I just watched a great holiday video by Tony Robbins in which he suggests four things to think about at the end of the year. And it certainly is a good time to look back. In Japan where I live, end-of-year parties are called bonenkai which literally translates as forget the year. It is a lovely tradition and a great opportunity to both remember and forget. Cognitive psychology suggests that we need to take the time to look back at things in order to restructure their meaning in a useful way in our long-term memories.
First, Anthony suggests three important questions to think about, either by yourself or with a loved one.
1. What were your magic moments for this year?
Take the time to brainstorm and write down a list of the magic moments of the year that you remember. Of course, you will include the big things like promotions, weddings, and other events. But also remember the little magic moments – the ‘small’ things like stories, and smiles and songs …
Thinking about your magic moments gives you momentum going into next year and helps you focus on what it is that brings real happiness into your life.
2. What sucked?
Tony admits that ‘suck’ is a technical term 🙂 In remembering the year, most people actually focus entirely on this question, but Tony recommends answering it after looking at the good things.
To answer question two, think about:
- What did you dislike?
- What didn’t work?
- What bugged you?
- What upset you?
You don’t want to duplicate the bad moments and bad habits next year, so think abouthat you could learn from it that you won’t do next year. A core NLP presupposition says that there is no failure, only feedback. Richard Bandler said that you only have failure if you give yourself a time limit. We have another whole year coming up, so we want to learn from last year in order to make the best use of the upcoming year. See if you can discover any common patterns that didn’t work. Think about your health, work, relationships and any other areas where you seem stuck in a pattern that is not helping you to be as happy as you deserve.
3. What are you committed to for next year?
A calendar year is, of course, an arbitrary deadline because huge decisions and changes can happen any day that you choose, but it’s still a useful deadline and one that we can make use of, especially if we’re on holidays and have more time than usual to think.
So be clear on the changes that you want for next year. Little changes, big changes – it’s useful to think about them all.
And on to number four which isn’t a question, but is also a wonderful bit of advice.
4. Set up a ritual or two that you’re going to follow
Rituals and patterns are the very fabric of life. Aristotle said that we become our habits. Whatever you are doing every day is what you have become, so it is useful to think about those rituals and patterns that we use to run our own lives. For example, in the next year, what are you going to do when you come home in the evening first – is it jumping into email or hugging your spouse, or taking ten minutes to meditate? Similarly, what are you going to do first thing in the morning? Or what are you going to do when you walk into your workplace?
Some rituals can be changed immediately. Others take a few weeks to really retrain your unconscious mind. But once you have set that new waking time, that new bedtime, that new training schedule, or those new eating habits, and you have carried it out for the few weeks necessary to get your whole body and mind used to it, it’s amazing how easy it is for us to change in ways that allow us to lead happier lives.
Thanks to Tony Robbins for his wonderful Christmas message. If you have a chance, I recommend watching the original video.