It’s that time of the year again

Learning  Relationships
29 December, 2014

My thoughts on a cherished New Year’s Eve family tradition for self-reflection and sharing.

As the year draws to an end, this is the time when many of us make resolutions for the new year.  Many of us resolve to lose weight and exercise more – others resolve to give up smoking, spend more time with their family, control their anger, become more organised, etc.

Frankly, I have been lukewarm recently about making new year’s resolutions. I don’t know about you, but what I have found is that after a good start for a few weeks, by the time February used to roll in, my motivation to continue seemed to wane and the resolutions used to get forgotten and abandoned.

If you are like me and have struggled to keep up with your resolutions, fear not – you are most certainly not alone. In fact, research indicates that a paltry 8 percent of those of us who make resolutions stick to them.

But does that mean that we should bag making new year’s resolutions? Probably not. I think that each of us can derive a lot of benefit through resolutions. But we need to approach this differently. Next week, I will share my thoughts on what we can try to do differently with our new year’s resolutions.

This week, rather than looking forward, I want to share some perspectives on reflecting on the year gone by. I want to share a New Year’s Eve family tradition that has become a wonderful way to close the year. We call it ‘3 Highs and 3 Lows’.

On the morning of December 31, we spend a few minutes summarising what we did in the year, the main events that happened etc. Then, Roopi, I and the big kids go off to our corners to write down our 3 greatest high moments (moments of joy, triumph, or celebration) and our 3 lowest moments (moments of disappointment, sadness or grief).  While writing these down, we don’t discuss them with each other or trade ideas. And there cannot be more than 3 of each. Also, these are individual highs and lows. Over dinner on New Year’s Eve, as the year draws to a close, we share them with each other. We celebrate our individual joys, share our personal struggles and reflect together on another year behind us.

We have found it a thoughtful and reflective way to end the year. For us, this exercise is a reminder that every year in our life will have its highs and lows. In fact, the highs will not seem like highs if there are no lows. We also sometimes recognise that low moments may come, but they seem smaller when seen in the context of a whole year.

Gifting ourselves the space to reflect on the past year has been a great source of personal energy. It also helps us figure out what we want to do differently next year and us grow as individuals. And sharing with each other brings us closer together as a family. This shared reflection leads to such a meaningful conversation between our family – we find that we end up having some common highs or lows amongst us. Also, the act of verbalising our personal low moments to our family can be very healing. Often, there are surprise highs that we didn’t expect to hear.

Becoming more self-aware is critical to helping each of us become more effective – as leaders, as parents, as spouses, as children, as friends, as colleagues and as citizens of our communities. Most of us get so caught up in the day to day rigmarole of life that we don’t consciously set time to reflect. And that is why an exercise like this, which allows us to unplug, even for a few minutes, can be so energising and powerful.

I would highly encourage you to try and create some opportunity for self-reflection for yourself and within your families or friends. Are you giving your friends, your family, your work and the world the best you can? Are you living up to your core values and your personal mission? Are you using your talents fully? Are you progressing towards your desired future?

Rather than ‘3 Highs and 3 Lows’, if you want to try something more specific, here are some other questions that I have heard other people recommend using, in a similar vein:

  1. What is the best thing that happened to you this year?
  2. What did you do this year that you have never done before?
  3. What is the biggest challenge or obstacle you faced this year?
  4. How did you do on your important relationships this year? Which ones improved? Which ones suffered?
  5. What do you wish that you had done more of this year?
  6. What do you wish that you had done less of this year?

I have also heard that some people create videos of these conversations among their family members. But whether you make a video or write it down, you will find that this is a wonderful way to record your memories and cherish them.

I am sure that you have other things that you do to make your new year moments special. I would love to hear more about it.

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