As we hit the downward slope to the end of another year, the tendency for most of us is to look back and decide whether it has been a good year, or not. This is, in fact, an important process to complete before we embark on our goals for 2019. I would like to add a different perspective; how you rate the past year depends on how you choose to see it.
What do I mean? Many of you will be familiar with this picture of a woman. I was reminded of it recently when paging through Stephen Covey’s legendary book “7 Habits for Highly Effective People”. Right at the beginning, he talks about the need for a paradigm shift if we want to make changes in life. For example, if we are not aware that we are constantly looking for the negatives, we will be unable to change our negative outlook. Take a look at the picture, do you see the old woman or the young one?
2018 has been a tough year for many people. As you look back and assess the year, become aware of which paradigm you are using for your observations. If you feel you have had a difficult, torrid, or unsettling year, bear in mind that life’s biggest lessons are learned when we perceive obstacles to be in our way or if we feel we have failed. When we are struggling, we tend to look for answers and in that process, we analyse and question what is happening. Thus we learn our lessons if we are open and aware.
It is that last sentence that is the crucial element. We need to be aware and open to the process in order to extract the lessons. I did a “closing” exercise for 2017, last year in December, and if you had asked me beforehand I would have told you I had had a really tough year. When I did the closing exercise and realised how much I had learned and achieved over the course of the 12 months, I realised it had actually been quite a productive time for me. The exercise focussed my attention on what I had gained from the experience, and therefore I looked at the year in a much more favourable light.
I also use the picture of the woman to help people look forward in time, to retirement. Do you see retirement as a time for growing old and frail; or do you see it as a time in life when the responsibilities of work and family are diminishing and you get a chance to do what you want? Do you choose to look at retirement as an opportunity or a burden? The choice is actually yours to make.
This is my second last blog for 2018. I will be taking a break from mid-December to January. The last one will reach your inbox on the 3rd December.
For those of you who might be retiring at the end of 2018, how are you choosing to see retirement?