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Last Dance...of 2023!

This is my last post in 2023 and I am feeling a bit reflective, considering all of the changes that have occurred this year. Has it been the same for you too? 




 As many of you know, I retired from my full-time position in higher education back in June, not without some trepidation.  I wondered if I could make the shift from working full-time to effectively managing my expanding coaching practice, without too many bumps along the way.  How would I fare financially, emotionally, and physically with this big change? Would I be anxious, depressed or tired? 


Big surprise. I was tired! I didn’t realize that holding down a full-time job, and building a part-time business can be exhausting, mentally and physically.  So I took the summer off to recuperate and rejuvenate myself, with many opportunities to laze by a pool, or head to the beach.  It was time well spent.


Additionally, it has been my heart’s desire to move to Portugal for some time, and I am making that dream a reality too.  It is a complicated process, but not without its perks.  We had an opportunity to go back in the Fall and explore new areas of the country, make some new acquaintances, and confirm our choice to live abroad.   Again, it was the right choice, and solidified my commitment to making this happen.   


Being fairly introspective, each year-end I like to spend some extra time, beyond my daily meditation, to reflect on the year and envision what I would like to occur in the coming year.  I put aside time either on New Years Eve or New Years Day to reflect and evaluate the past year and imagine the future.  When I look back at the end of 2022, I know I had made up my mind to retire, just not sure when.  I also knew that 2023 was the year to make my move to the other side of the pond and started planning then what next steps to take.  I am glad I did both.


I also like to take the year’s end to be grateful, for all of the luck, new friends, new experiences, new foods, and new ways of looking at things that enhance my life. 


If I didn’t say it, I also journal about what I am focused on, what inspires me, where I get stuck and where I find gratitude.  It really helps me center and is a guidepost from year to year.  Heck, day to day, week to week, right?


Thinking about one positive thing in your life each day is either a simple or very difficult thing to do, dependent on the day, am I right?  And writing about the experience, even better, by making a quick journal entry.


I have gotten out of the habit of journaling each day, and I feel the difference.  I guess this is why I wanted to pick this thread back up in 2024, as I know how helpful it can be.


If you have considered journaling for the first time or picking it back up, here are some tips for you to get started in the new year, if you would like to give this a go:


I kind of like this idea of journaling in the evening on the following questions:

  

What excited me today?

 

What exhausted me today?

 

What did I learn today?

 

I think these are great questions to consider, as it helps us to see the positive in each day, each moment as we reflect on the day. 

 

And to make it even more meaningful, rating how I feel at the end of the writing exercise, using a rating of 1-5, with 1 being “so-so” and 5 “amazing.  Again, another point of reflection, checking in with our feelings, not just writing down a quick list.

 

Keep it for at least 30 days, to see if a pattern emerges.  I bet there does.  Am I mostly excited or exhausted? And by what or whom?  What did I learn over the course of 30 days? Hopefully, I am getting better and finding the positive and gratitude, no matter the outcome.


And lastly, journaling gratitude is a contemplative time.  However, to add a component of behavioral gratitude, only amplifies the benefits of gratefulness. When you express your gratitude to your partner or friend and let them know how much you appreciate something specific, it is not only an investment in your relationship it also connects you to the other person more completely.  So whether it is a note expressing your appreciation or a quick chat about a warm memory, you create a stronger bond.


And, finally, so is positive self-talk.  I hope if and when you write a journal you include positive statements about and to yourself.  Claiming what is specifically special about you and why you are so grateful for you goes a long way towards maintaining well-being and good mental health.  For example, are you a person who wraps beautiful presents for others, sends them the perfect card for their birthday? That is a gift, my friend, and I am afraid not one of mine (if only).


Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found that effects of positive thinking (optimism) on your health may include:

 

  1. Lower levels of stress

  2. Greater resistance to illness

  3. Lower depression rates

  4. Reduced risk of death from cancer, respiratory conditions, and infections

  5. Better coping skills when times are hard

  6. Living longer

 

All good stuff to add to your arsenal for your overall health, right?

 

Keep me posted on your outcomes.   I am curious to know how these practices will impact you in the coming year. Did you know you can post your comments right here on the blog?   Have a great start to 2024!

 

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