January is drawing near. It's a time of hope and renewal despite the nip in the air. Another new year's dawn symbolizes great potential - limited only by your drive and creativity.
And as ISOs and merchant level salespeople, many of you are already thinking about business and personal goals for 2008.
But what about the year that just passed? What happened for you in 2007, what made you happy or sad, and what did you learn?
It's a good idea to pause and reflect on your experiences before embarking upon the new ventures and adventures that await you in the coming 12 months.
So, find a comfortable spot, perhaps a cozy chair by a window with a view. Make yourself a cup of hot cider or tea to sip throughout this exercise. Bring a notepad and pen or your favorite electronic substitute. Sit down; take off your shoes. Wiggle your toes. Stretch and yawn.
Now, try these steps to take your mind off of whatever may be preoccupying your mind at the moment:
1. Take in the scenery. Is there a rabbit hopping through the snow outside? Do you see mountains in the distance? Is a leaflet dancing in the wind on a sidewalk below your window sill? What's the farthest thing you see in the distance? What's the closest? Look at the world around you inside and out.
2. Listen. What sounds do you hear? Are birds chirping in swaying branches outside? Does a truck rumble by on a nearby street? What about children?
Are they laughing and calling out to one another as they dash down the road?
3. Taste. Let a sip of your drink linger in your mouth before swallowing. How does it strike you? Are there subtle tastes you never noticed when drinking more quickly?
4. Get tactile. Touch your clothes. Are you wearing a warm, nappy sweater or a sleek silk shirt? How does it feel? Run your fingers over your watch or jewelry. Do you feel bumps and shapes you never noticed?
5. Use your nose. What aromas waft through your room? Incense? Embers from a fire in the hearth? Someone's perfume or aftershave? Do you smell spices from a nearby takeout restaurant or warm bread baking in your oven?
Now, think about 2007, the year that is coming to a close. Was it a great year or one you'd just as soon forget? Do you remember what you set your sights on at this time last year? How did you feel about your chances of success?
Review the year in your mind's eye month by month. As events come to mind, take notes, listing the highs and the lows. Write about how each one affected you and those you care about.
Don't rush. This may take some time. Breathe deeply.
If you feel strong emotions, either negative or positive, notice them. Let them be. Don't suppress them or try to hold on to them. Good or bad, they will pass as all things do. When you are done, review your list. Add anything that comes to mind that you might have missed.
Now, it's time to celebrate the year's blessings. Did your portfolio grow beyond your expectations? Did you win your company's highest sales award? Did you take a dream vacation to Bali or Tibet? Did you make new friends? Get a new degree or accreditation?
Did you fall in love, get married? Was your first grandchild born? Whatever good things happened, acknowledge them. Give thanks for them.
Were you able to make a difference in your community in small and large ways?
Buying groceries for an ailing neighbor counts just as much as making a large financial contribution to a food bank. Appreciate all of your good deeds.
And, let's not forget the difficult times. It's not easy to think of the rough spots as blessings, but they, too, bring each of us gifts and new discoveries about ourselves and the world around us.
Did you lose a loved one or a valued colleague? Take a moment to think of that person and all that he or she brought to your life.
Have you done something to honor that person's memory? Is there more you'd like to do? If so, make plans to do it. And take comfort in knowing that as long as you remember those who pass on, they live on inside of you.
Did you miss your earnings mark or have another type of business reversal? Take a moment to think about how hard you worked, and appreciate your tremendous efforts on your own and your family's behalf.
Reflect upon every negative development with an eye for finding the kernel of goodness each setback holds for you. If nothing else, you will have learned something, and that is a plus.
Also, think about people who helped you during the year. Come up with a plan for how you will express your thanks in a way that will be meaningful for each individual.
And if you did something to harm anyone, make a commitment to make it right just as soon as you finish this exercise.
If you have regrets about anything, acknowledge them. Express your disappointment out loud if you have to. But then, let them go. Really, let them go. And do it before you leave that comfy chair you've been sitting upon.
We all know we cannot undo the past. But sometimes our emotions about perceived failures tie us to cumbersome memories, and we forget how much power we have to shape the present and the future.
Don't dwell on old wounds or victories once you've done your review.
Be kind to yourself. Be the loving parent you may never have had.
No matter how young or old you are, or how accomplished or inexperienced you may think you are, remind yourself that you are lucky to be alive and in business.
Now, say a fond farewell to 2007. Get up, stretch again and say hello to 2008.
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