As 2021 comes to an end, this is a time to reflect upon the events of the year with its highlights, lows, successes and lessons learned. We owe this reflection to ourselves, even if sometimes all we want to do is burry the negative in the past. Reflecting on the positive – the wins – has the added benefit of anchoring our lives into a soil of increased confidence and hope. And who doesn’t need such anchor when we face the unknown of a new year….with the COVID pandemic still threatening lives, communities and economies.
Perhaps not unsurprisingly, some lessons learned in 2021 center around change:
- Change happens if we take responsibility for it. Whatever changes we need or desire start with us committing to them and taking the time and resources required for such changes. It could be as simple as planning more family outings – which in turn will result in more quality time and stronger family bonds. In other words, fun times rarely happen by accident or by consuming social media feeds, we are the main characters of our lives and taking the driver’s seat is the surest way to reach our destination. Any change in any area of life starts with clarity about what we want or need to change, and taking ownership for envisioning, planning and executing on the desired outcome.
- Change rarely happens overnight. Momentum is built over time by being consistent in our behaviors and pursuing the actions we need to take in order to bring the desired change or progress. At some point or for particular changes, the momentum is so strong that the transformation becomes obvious to ourselves or others around us. And in this process of changing, we might find new cheerleaders and connections, while, at times, partying ways with some old ones.
- Change is dynamic and ultimately a perpetual state. There are always changes to aspire to, or that become obvious needs in our lives. We are going from one destination to another, from one life transition to another, from one unforeseen event to another, from one emotion to another … Change is a perpetual condition of life. Building the life skills of navigating and adapting to change and thriving under an always-changing condition of life are paramount to moving forward in life.
- Change cannot be rushed. Irrespective of how much we wish for something and do all the right things, some changes can only happen after some pre-requisite lessons, conditions or events have occurred. Passage of time or going through a particular life experience (e.g. a relationship breaking apart, a career or house move) are at times the only bridge to a particular change or outcome. Learning to discern when not to force a change versus forging ahead full speed, as well as learning to accept some life changes and events that are out of our control, both are a powerful catalyst for becoming who we are meant to be and growing into the best version of ourselves.
- Some needed changes are often linked to our strongest (oftentimes negative) emotions. If we pay attention to and lean into what our strongest emotions are telling us, we often times identify what the biggest changes should be for us to break through from what might be holding us back or away from our potential and usually a happier life. For instance, anger is often the result of holding back forgiveness. If we look deep inside and embrace that particular emotion, we receive a key to change – e.g. make peace with the past or with a particular person- which typically involves some level of healing and growing.
- Change provides for an up-to-date roadmap to our priorities, reflective of our values. The more we are in touch with our values, the more we can consciously prioritize required changes to live in alignment with such values. Change becomes a constant act of accountability and alignment, which feeds into a loop that clarifies and preserves our values and priorities. Sometimes it takes hardship or a crisis to understand the importance of a particular value, but once understood, we strive to make a change and build a system, habits and plans around it.
2021 has been a gift unwrapping the powerful impact of continued change. The grace of change comes when we continue to grow and be transformed into a better version of ourselves, one which is truer to our essence and values.
May life-given and purpose-driven change be with us all in the new year!