Andy Williams might be crooning “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” from every department store speaker in the country, but for many, the sentiment is so far from reality it’s comical.
The run up to Christmas is so frantic – balancing work, social commitments, friends, family and gift shopping – that some of us may feel spent, despondent and a little jaded.
And while this isn’t exactly “wonderful”, it does provide us with a reason to check in with ourselves and reflect honestly on the year that’s past.
We’re fortunate in Australia that for many of us the craziness of Christmas is often followed by a long, slow, summer holiday in the sun, the perfect opportunity for recharging your batteries.
But before you can recharge, you need to figure out what gives you energy in the first place.
That’s why at least two weeks before Christmas every year, I like to reconnect with my friend Louise Davis and pose a few self-reflective questions to one another.
Taking time to reflect with another person offers both of you a new perspective – a Christmas gift to each other.
Here are the six questions that will help you to regenerate your energy for the new year without falling for the “new year resolution” question – which is often answered in haste, is too ambitious, and can lead to internal conflict.
1. What has been your most satisfying achievement at work this past year?
Think back over the past year and try to pinpoint the one moment, event, achievement, opportunity, or win that made you proud.
Why was it significant? What were the factors that caused it to work out so well? Can you repeat these factors in other situations at work or personally?
Most importantly, have you created a different attitude or approach in your work or life because of this achievement?
Thinking about these questions will allow you to not only reflect positively on the great result; it will also encourage you to notice what you did and how you did it.
Knowing we are capable sets up our beliefs and mind-set, which is one of the building blocks of motivation, which fuels energy.
2. What are the three things that would make your work perfect?
If you were to describe your perfect week at work, what would you be doing? What would you have if you did this regularly? And how would you be if this was your norm?
Are you someone who quests for improvement in the world, ethics and a strong sense of right and wrong? Or are you someone who wants to apply your flair for originality and creativity, so you can be uniquely you? Do you want interaction with people? Do you like to be challenged and to challenge?
Are you able to tap into these needs in your work? If not, how does this impact your energy and approach?
Having clarity and insight into what would make your work perfect means you can shape the direction you want to take in 2018.
3. What were you most cautious about this year?
Caution may hamper your progression and courage invites curiosity and learning. Being careful and cautious makes sense, but it can also be unhelpful if it gets in the way of your growth.
On the flipside, tremendous success may hamper progression too – often when you’re feeling on top of things, competent in your work and successful, it can reduce your drive for coming up with new ideas, or doing something remarkable.
If you’re looking to grow in 2018, figure out if caution is hampering your progress, or if it’s the complacency that comes with success?
4. How much fun are you having, who are you sharing this with?
What’s happening in your social life? What’s going well, and what’s not going well?
If there are friendships that are dwindling, ask yourself why? What are you doing that may be contributing to this, what are your relationships teaching you? Let the effort or resistance be your advisor.
Have you been so busy at work that it is impacting your social support network? If so, does this concern you, or is work more important right now?
There’s no right or wrong answer here, it’s about understanding why you’re making certain choices, where you get your energy from, and where your energy is being drained.
5. How are you feeling physically?
When it comes to understanding where your energy comes from, your physical health is important.
So, ask yourself – how often do you wake up ready to take on the day, or are you dragging yourself to the bathroom most mornings?
Are you looking after yourself, or are you letting other factors get in the way of your health?
It’s not just about exercise – if exhaustion or fatigue has become the norm, think about how this influences poor decisions across many realms in your life.
This is not about body shape this is about vitality, take time to think about how to regain your physical (and therefore emotional), energy in the new year.
6. Do you think about your financial situation?
It might sound dull, but your finances can either be a downer, or they can give you a sense of achievement. Money can be a major cause of anxiety and a key motivation, particularly if you are keeping some rather than spending it all.
How much would you like to keep this year? Most of us could always do with more cash but can you balance your need for extra income against your lifestyle priorities?
We can learn to accept our financial position and invest in intangible things – like contribution, friendship and fitness – that don’t cost the earth.
The “money” question, can cause us to feel vulnerable or aspirational. Looking at your financial situation can give you a clear picture of what you want or need to achieve in the new year.
And that’s it! Six simple questions to set you up for the new year that don’t involve resolutions, or change, or “stopping” anything.
By asking yourself these key questions before you take time to recharge your batteries you will gain a better understanding of what to pursue and what to protect in 2018.
Have fun with this, my gift to you and Merry Christmas to you and yours.