As the year draws to a close are you relieved its over and trying to forget about it in the never ending stream of seasonal events and parties?
Do you want to take a virtual blanket and throw it over the year and ‘move on’?
If you do, you are not alone.
Many of us shun the past and at this time of year eagerly await January 1st to start afresh!
What fear do we have in looking back and learning from our experiences – the good and the not so good?
Fears and regrets
If I’m honest, I have been the fastest person I know to move on and forget the past, only to have it haunt me at 2am in the morning as I am jolted awake by a regret, an ‘if only’ or “I wish”.
Over the last year this has been an area I have worked on… And I’m sleeping better!
But it hasn’t been easy.
A habit I have had for 30-ish years wasn’t going to be broken overnight. So everyday I spend time reflecting and making peace with the not so good bits of my past and also celebrating the good ones!
I think as business owners, sorting through this makes a fantastic foundation for growth. As we feel more complete, forgive others and ourselves and recognize our successes, we become stronger and more energized. Those regrets and the ‘if only’ or “I wish” sap our precious energy and take our mind from the moment. Once we have made peace we can truly live in the now and be fully present to build our business and enjoy the moment.
Look where you’re going!
If this sounds a bit ‘woo-woo’ or new age, think of it another way. Every time your mind is focused on the past you are not thinking about what needs to happen now nor are you thinking about building the future. Every time you have a thought that is using energy and given that energy is one of the three most precious resources of a business owner (time and money are the other two) you need to be careful where you spend it!
When we think, neuropeptides (chemical messengers) are created in the brain. So if we think loving thoughts about someone close to us, we get a burst of oxytocin and dopamine. These are the brain’s feel good chemicals. These help us feel happier, warmer, more open and optimistic. When we think negative thoughts about a situation we perceive as bad, we get bursts of adrenalin and cortisol. These can make us feel scared, angry, withdrawn and disconnected.
Take a moment to think NOW!
Be honest – over the last 24 hours, how much of your thinking has been in the now and how much of it has been in the past. And when you have been thinking of the past, what sort of emotions have come up for you? And how have these thoughts added to your day?
The good news is, we can control our thinking. Imagine what it would be like if we could reduce the number of times those regrets or unhelpful thoughts of our past pop into our minds.
Try this process to make peace with the past, gain completion on all of the ‘what if’ and ‘if only’ thoughts.
Step 1: PURGE IT!
Take some time where you can be alone and interrupted for 30 minutes or an hour. Bring some blank paper and a pen.
And think – think about your past and write a list of EVERYTHING you are unhappy about, the wrongs, the unfairness, the unfinished business, those words you wished you had or hadn’t said, that email you did or didn’t write, the relationship that you felt wronged by, or you did wrong to them.
You get the idea? Purge it all – from when you were a child to now….
Step 2: CREATE PEACE
Well done on doing the purge! I know from my own experience it can be painful going back to dwell on those memories we would rather forget.
Time to create peace.
Take each memory, idea, item from above and one at a time consider it as you are today. Is this memory and the emotion associated with it really worth hanging on to and is it worth having you be pulled away from the now?
Then with each memory, think about how you can start to feel completion about it. How can you put the memory to rest so it won’t bother you again at 2am in the morning? How can you be complete with it, make your peace and move on?
Here are some ideas that you can use, or maybe they will ignite some different ways for you..
- If you have an incomplete relationship with a person – you ended on bad terms or it just fizzled out, write a letter, make a phone call. Say what’s on your mind and complete. Don’t judge or seek to blame, lay it out in a non-judgmental way and make peace. (If they have passed away, write the letter anyway, just don’t send it)
- If you owe anyone money – no matter how long ago, pay up! Or if you are still owed money from someone, ask for it
- You said you would call someone for coffee and you never did – just do it!
- Review the memory, ponder it and ask if you still need it with that level of emotional charge. Think about it again and really think about it with love and forgiveness and let it go.
- There may some action son the list you haven’t done and you feel regret – schedule some time to do them. It’s not too late!
Step 3: Build Your Foundation
You may want to do this step on a different day and in a different location as it is a more generative, positive task.
Get more blank paper and list down everything that went really well for you and your business in the last 12 months.
Everything – no matter how big or how small!
Maybe you re-organized your office to be more efficient, you gained 10 more clients, you tightened up your invoicing process and improved your cash flow or maybe you made time to see friends and exercise during the week.
Whatever it is, write it down.
Then ponder this – how are you feeling??
Are you experiencing those feel good neuropeptides I mentioned before?
Take this great list and put it somewhere you can access it easily. You may want to review it everyday for a great positive start to your day or when you need a pick me up! Or maybe before ‘that’ phone call you need to make.
Step 4: Completing Your Day
To keep on top of your incompletions and to keep your positive foundation strong, I suggest spending 20 minutes a day reflecting on the day that has been. You may want to write in your journal or simply jot down your thoughts ion your computer. The pint is, to actually spend the time reflecting as the day finishes, so you can fully make peace with whatever has happened and move on. And you must capture those things that have gone well for you that day, so you every day you are topping up and strengthening your foundation for success.
Wendy Kerr is an expert in Corporate Crossovers – women who have left corporate careers to start their own businesses. Her company, Corporate Crossovers®, offers coaching, mentoring and resources to enable these women to thrive in their businesses and their lives.
For more information, and your free guide on “Discover the Four Blocks that Stop You From Earning What You Used To and How to Overcome Them ”, visit http://www.CorporateCrossovers.com