In the busyness of the holidays, it’s easy to get wrapped up in tackling things that feel urgent: buying presents, planning gatherings, cooking, perhaps arranging childcare for a school break or navigating stressful travel. This “task focus” leaves us constantly asking “what’s next?” If we’re not careful, it can drown out life’s whispers and take us away from the important work of reflecting on the previous year in order to set our goals and priorities for the year to come.
In this holiday season, carve out time to create space and stillness. Really listen to what your mind and spirit are calling you to, in order to live your fullest life in the new year. Though it’s challenging to find the space and time, this season of celebration, family, and new beginnings is the perfect time to reflect on lessons learned over the concluding year.
Listen to life’s whispers
In her commencement speech at Stanford University, Oprah Winfrey inspired the graduates to “Pay attention to life’s whispers.” As the whisper becomes a scream, Oprah encouraged them to contemplate: “Why is this happening? What is it here to teach me?” This sage advice reminds us that we have the opportunity to grow from our experiences versus wasting time wrestling with what we cannot change.
As you reflect on the year, look for the whispers in events, relationships, and daily life. The places where there seems to be a small voice suggesting that you need to change course, to heal or to renew. Then take steps to address those whispers before they build to screams, so that you can turn and embrace the year ahead with clear eyes and a grateful heart.
A Mindset of Contribution
We live a life of “What’s next?” Measured by milestones; first steps, first day of school, first date, graduation, first job, marriage, promotions, retirement; we are in search of more, and frequently thinking of how the future relates to us. As my sister Jennifer professes, “We want the frosting on the cake, forgetting we already have the cake.”
When we focus on the cake we already have on our plates, it frees us to look out past our own table and see what we have to give. Approach the new year with a mindset of contribution to your colleagues and relationships. What you choose to believe becomes your reality. You will appreciate your job to a higher degree when you enter your office with a culture of service in your heart and mind. Consider asking yourself: “What can I do today to contribute to our company, assist our clients, and champion my colleagues?”
Eyes Wide Open – Look for the Opportunities
Whatever your position or tenure in the workplace, be on the lookout for opportunities for both you and your company. Take the initiative to create your own future – don’t wait for someone else to guide you. Where is opportunity whispering for you to join it?
Reflect upon what is truly important to you in this chapter of your life. There may be a time when it feels meaningful to make “a lot” of money, striving for a bigger home, newer car, exotic vacations and other things that will make you “happy.” Yet research has consistently proven that “things” will not make us happy.
Through the chapters of your life, the things that feel important will change for you. Yet what does not change is the authentic happiness derived from our relationships–our family, faith, friends and community. Use this broad and evergreen truth to inform your exploration of what is genuinely important to you in this chapter of life, and strive toward those goals in the new year.
In this holiday season at the end of the year, listen to life’s whispers and let them guide you, preparing you to embark on the best year to come!
Gail Lowney Alofsin is an author, speaker, adjunct professor, and business executive. Her book, Your Someday is NOW – What are you Waiting For? has raised over $40,000 for non-profit organizations since April 2014.
A lifelong student and humanitarian, Gail believes that we all have the capability to be a leader in our own lives, influencing the lives of others to positive peak performance and success. To book Gail for your next conference or company meeting, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on twitter: @gailalofsin.