A perfect time for reflection

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Most of us are super busy during the holiday season — getting ready, traveling, celebrating in all sorts of ways. There’s lots of emotion in the air (and often a mix of emotions). 

Happily, we get a short respite between Christmas and the start of the new year. 

I treasure this space. With festivities behind us and so many people on holiday, things get quiet. I find this to be a perfect time for reflection. 

Reflection is something most people never get to doing. Life is always hectic! But when you make time to slow down and look back great things happen.


The benefits of taking time to reflect

Meaningful reflection requires time and space. You must slow down and get quiet, and that in itself is an important gift you can give yourself. 

Taking time to reflect enables you to gain perspective. Rather than drifting from day to day and week to week until a year has sped by without any insight, when you create focused, quiet time you can see so much! With thought and attention, you can consider what worked in your life, and appreciate yourself and celebrate your accomplishments. You can also spot the patterns or habits that kept you stuck. 

The insights gleaned from reflection afford you tremendous opportunities for moving into your future. This is a time to consider what you want to build on, as well as what you want to do less of — or stop doing altogether. Consider the qualities you need to cultivate or nurture to live your best life. Start to consider the goals you want to set, and how you can reach them.


5 tips and suggestions for meaningful reflecting  

Why not create a special ritual for this process? You might even want to begin an annual tradition of reflecting. Here are some ideas to consider:

  1. Set aside some time for yourself at a particular time of day and find a place you like — a cozy nook, in front of a fire, a special chair — to settle into.

  2. You might want to ask someone to be a partner. Sitting together, you can do some thinking and writing, and then share your insights and ideas with one another.

  3. Designating a lovely journal for reflecting can make this a more special experience. And the journal can also be your place to note reflections at regular intervals during the year. (You might reflect monthly or at the start of each new season.) Your periodic reflections will help you stay clear and aware as you move through the year.

  4. You can approach the process of reflecting in a range of interesting ways. One possibility for getting started is go through your calendar and review the entries for each month, then note insights that come to mind. 

    Another approach is to create lists as your jumping off point. Try noting your top 10 highlights of the year or top 10 lessons learned or the 10 most important things you want to stop doing in the future. Next, jot down WHY each thing is on your list, and what you learned related to the entry. Before long, you’ll have a rich array of insights.

I would love to hear about how you reflect on the year that’s winding down, and what your big aha’s and take-aways are. Leave a comment here, or email me.

I would be happy to hear from you if you want to talk about how coaching can support you to live with clarity, intention, and commitment this year. I welcome you to get in touch to talk with me about how I can help.

I wish you and yours a New Year of living big!

How a simple word can change your year

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A new year is underway! The new year arrived in New England with unusually frigid temperatures and a blizzard is underway as I write. I am grateful to be warm and dry, that our power is on, and that my family is together. I see this as a fine start to what I know will be a big year.

But, big years do not happen magically. When we drift through life without intention, as so many people do, we are unfocused and usually scattered. 

So, how can you make this year a big one? Some of us think we need to make resolutions, but you have probably read all sorts of articles about why resolutions fail — and I agree that New Year resolutions are far from the best way to make positive change in your life.

Here's what I recommend instead. Choose a word of the year.

Begin by reflecting, with clear eyes, on your life in the previous year. By getting clear, you can more easily envision what you want in the year ahead. Maybe you want more quiet in your life. Maybe you want to stretch into being bolder this year. Maybe you are ready to release old habits. Why not start now and choose 3 to 5 concepts that feel most important for this year of your life?

After you have your short list, you may see that some of the concepts are related, and you can feel which seem most on target. Getting to clarity will be the key for you to set intentions — intentions that will ignite the energy that will support you to consciously create the year you want. 

I have been focusing on my intentions and choosing a word to guide my year for several years now. And, I help my clients to do that, too. The idea is to zero in on a word that will help me stay on track as my year unfolds.

Two years ago I chose the word SAVOR as my word of the year. I knew I wanted (and needed!) to slow down, but "slow down" was not quite it. I yearned to make time to truly connect to all there was to appreciate and hold those things in my heart. SAVOR was a rich word that entailed slowing down as well as bringing a focus on gratitude. And, it meant that all of that goodness would not be forgotten. SAVOR was a great word for me, and guided that year in wonderful ways.

At the start of last year, I chose the word VIBRANT. I had been recovering from surgery and was focused on restoring robust health. But, I applied the word VIBRANT to many other aspects of my life and how I wanted to be. It entailed a stretch for me. The sign I posted in my office and looked at every day said:

VIBRANT   health  |  energy  |  creativity  |  thinking  |  service  |  action

I was motivated throughout the year to be true to my intentions for vibrancy in all of those aspects of my life. 

I invite you to join me as I focus on choosing my word for the coming year.
Here’s a brief set of steps you can follow.

Start by answering these questions:
What am I no longer willing to tolerate? 
What activities do I want to START doing this year?
What do I want to STOP doing this year?
What do I want to KEEP doing this year?
At the end of the year, what has to have happened in order for me to call the year my BEST YEAR EVER?

Next, go back to your list of up to 5 concepts you wrote down that felt most important for this year of your life. Do your answers to the questions above give you any new insights or ideas for things to swap out? (Maybe words like Presence, Friendship, Power, Risk, Freedom, Action, Openness, Love, Change, Happiness, or Trust might feel like they belong on your list. Let your intuition guide you here.) Do you see some words that feel squarely on target?

Now, narrow your list to one or two words. (I know it may be hard, but this is the time to get focused!) Write down why each word is a great choice. Consider what would be different for you every day if you chose it. Write out a short list of actual things you could create or bring into your life if you chose it. Then write down what you would cultivate as habits (or bring more focus to, if the habits are already in place) to embody the word.

Look again, and see if the right word shines clearly for you. Or, think a bit more and hone in on the word that captures what you want.

With your WORD OF THE YEAR selected, here are your next steps:

In addition to printing out and posting your word, also share it. And, ask for encouragement when you need it. It’s great to ask someone to be your partner and supporter. And, of course, commit to taking ongoing action based on your word.

So, this is my moment to share my word for 2018: LEAD

I intend to be a leader in my life, to be all that I can be in each moment. I intend to show up more and shine brightly. I intend to passionately lead my clients to create the futures they want. I intend to paint with the energy and passion of a leader, and not limit myself. 

What will it take for me to LEAD in these ways? I commit to not shrinking back, even when I move into territory that’s new for me. I intend to focus on what matters most, and commit to those things with a whole heart. I commit to taking good care of myself so that I have the energy to see my vision through, all year long.

I invite you to share the word of the year that you choose, and tell me why you chose it. Leave a comment below, or send me an email to let me know. (Bonus points for adding what it will take for you to live your word of the year.)

I wish you a momentous year filled with growth, wisdom, happiness, and all that you desire. 

The art of end-of-year reflection

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As the days of December — and the year — wane, we have a great opportunity to reflect on the year that's ending, and to start considering what we want to create in our lives in the coming year. 

Most of us rush through holiday preparations and celebrations. It’s easy to move on auto-pilot and find ourselves in a whole new year without having done any reflecting. And that’s a big missed opportunity. Because when we fail to slow down and take stock, we fail to live intentionally. It's like leaving unclaimed gold behind, that can inform your future in important ways.

Can you make time for thought and reflection, even at this busy time of year? Can you make some precious time for yourself a priority — and commit to giving yourself this gift?

Here’s what this commitment looks like.

Set aside an hour or two for quiet reflection. Pick a spot that’s cozy and away from distractions. Maybe that's a room you love in your home or a quiet corner of a lovely restaurant or inn. Maybe you want to spend a few hours at a spa and sit in a beautiful, quiet room, wrapped in a thick robe. Maybe you are someplace warm and can find a spot in nature to relax and think.

You may want to do this reflecting alone, or you may invite a close friend, sibling, or partner to join you. Have a notebook in hand and a favorite pen or pencil. Include a mug of warm tea or a glass of wine, light a candle, and maybe put on some soft music to create the setting that will help you sit in peace. 

Ask yourself the following questions:

What did the last year teach you?

  • How did you step outside of your comfort zone? What happened? What is your big take-away?

  • How did you cope with a challenge (or more than one challenge)? How did you navigate it? What worked well? What could have been better?

  • How did you take good care of yourself, or find any new ways to care for yourself? What positive outcomes did you get? What did you try that did not meet your expectations?

  • If you neglected self-care, what were the consequences? Do they motivate you to find ways to take better care of yourself next year?

  • What do you want more of in your life?

  • What things or activities do you want to keep?

  • What things or activities do you want to stop doing?

  • What are you no longer willing to tolerate?

What can you acknowledge and celebrate?

  • What went well that you can look back at and truly appreciate? Can you see things (big and small) that are noteworthy, that you did that had a positive impact on your life?

  • What was it about you that made those things possible? Was it courage? Did you study to achieve it? Did you ask for help, so there was less struggle? Did you trust your intuition?

  • What can you celebrate? Can you celebrate overcoming a fear? Achieving something important? Healing a sore spot in your heart? Leading with more boldness? Staying committed to something important? Stepping up in a new way?

  • Consider the ways you can celebrate these things! Don’t simply shrug them off. Can you treat yourself to an experience you have been longing for? Can you make a sign to post where you will see it that says “Bravo!”? Can you invite someone special to join you for a celebratory outing?

After you have reflected, acknowledged yourself, and celebrated the great ways that you showed up in the past year, you will be poised to consider the year ahead — with questions like:

What do you want to be next year? 
What do you want to do next year? 
What do you want to have next year? 
In short, what do you want to create in your life next year?

Answering those questions will entail another session for thought and consideration. You may want to do some journal writing about them here and there in the next couple of weeks. This is a perfect time to start to think — and dream — about the year you want to create.

Wishing you all the best for the end of this year, and abundant happiness, love, and creativity in the new year.


If you’re looking for another way to change your year, you can consider having a coach to support you to get clear about the life and work questions on your mind — to live the big life you long for — so that you can set clear objectives and get help to step into your future with intention and commitment. If that’s something you want to explore, I welcome you to set up an Introductory Coaching Call with me. There’s no cost or obligation for us to meet. Simply complete the Coaching Inquiry Form and I’ll be in touch to make a date with you.

A different kind of top-10 list

With the holidays upon us and the last days of the year winding down, top-10 lists will soon start showing up. We have all seen the typical lists of the top-10 films of the year, the top-10 world events, etc. In thinking about top-10s — which for me would include things like a significant birthday celebrated, the marriage of my nephew, coaching remarkable and inspiring clients, and a memorable trip to Paris — I decided to be grateful for all of those things, but to take a little different approach to thinking about how I want to compile my top-10 this time around.

I am thinking about the top 10 things I have learned that I want to take into the new year.

1. To start, I’m focusing on what I want to leave behind from this last year.

By reflecting on what went well and what things went awry this year, I will be able to leave behind habits and practices that I know do not serve me well. This will open the way for more of what I want to bring into my new year. What will I leave behind? For one, timidity. I have learned that when I take a step that feels big, and even a bit scary, it's always better than shrinking back. I will also no longer chase after every interesting idea I get or every opportunity that comes my way. I’ve learned that these distract me from my big priorities. Do you get the idea?

2. After reflecting on my last year, I will decide on the key things I want to create in this coming year and I will choose a word for my year.

When I have clearly defined my top priorities, for my personal life and my work, selecting a word that will guide me will follow. (I wrote about choosing a word of the year last December, and many people wrote to tell me they carefully chose a word to guide their year, too.) I learned that having my word was meaningful and inspiring, and that it was great to post my word where I saw it daily. I know this year’s word will help me to be focused and on-target, both with my new priorities and with how I want to live.

3. I will celebrate my achievements in this year and commit to celebrating my coming achievements in the new year.

We often lose sight of the things we have accomplished and achieved as we rush through our days — especially the small things that can have so much meaning. When we take the time to savor and celebrate ourselves for our successes, and celebrate things what we might overlook (such as trying out something new that is not a sure bet, or having a tough conversation rather than avoiding it), we encourage ourselves, and can appreciate that we are learning new skills and are growing in important ways.

4. I will make my visions visible.

For me, this includes making a vision board every 3 to 6 months. Creating a vision board is an incredible process, and the completed board provides a way for me to look at what I want to bring into my life on a daily basis, so I do not lose sight of what I want to manifest. Making things visible also includes writing down the top three things I will commit to each week and posting the list where I will see it often. The act of committing things to paper, and seeing them, is powerful.

5. I will get more help and support.

Last year I began to work with a great bookkeeper and wondered why I had waited so long to do that. My coaches are a big part of my support system, and I look forward to continuing my work with them. This year, I will begin to work with a virtual assistant to free me from daily tasks that take time away from doing the things that matter most to me and things that only I can do. I will also do more work with a great professional organizer to start the year with an updated filing system for my business, and to help me clear accumulated clutter in my office and home. And, I will think about other kinds of help and support I can enlist to make this a great year.

6. I will have weekly Accountability Calls with a colleague.

This is a practice I started in last year. In every call, we each report on what we accomplished in the past week, where we struggled, and what we learned, and we declare our top three priorities for the coming week. We close by picking a word to be our theme for the week. This has been a remarkable practice.

7. I will take excellent care of myself.

Having experienced a series of health challenges this year that are now, happily, resolved, I am well aware of the importance of careful self-care. I will pay special attention to what I eat and to my exercise routine. I will create a new daily practice that includes quiet meditation each morning, so that I will be centered, calm, and clear as I start each day. I will be tuned in to what causes me stress, and work to reduce those influences — and I’ll actively clear any stress that does come up.

8. I will show up, engage in constructive conversations, and take action related to civic causes about which I care deeply.

Current political developments are calling me to think creatively and partner effectively to be a force for sustaining and improving civil rights, ensuring social justice, building tolerance, protecting the environment, and more.

9. I will create as never before.

I know that when I write from my heart, and when I paint, and when I think creatively, and when I experiment freely, my life is enriched. Difficult emotions are transformed, I am fueled and inspired, I learn and grow, and I engage with others in amazing ways. I will also visit museums and galleries, attend live theater, music, and dance performances, and read as many great books as I am able. Creativity that I engage in and that I experience connects me to big, new ideas and accelerates inspiration.

10. I will live with love as a driver.

I know that love is powerful and positive, and that is what I want to be. I know that love is an antidote to fear and anxiety. So, I will continue to make “love” my watchword, as I have been especially focused on doing recently. I will check in with myself and ask if I am I serving myself, my family, my clients, my community, and the world with a full heart, and if I am modeling love and tolerance for those around me.

I am looking ahead to the next year with the desire to live bigger than ever. That desire informed my top-10 list entries. What will you include on your forward-looking top-10 list? How will you create the best year ever?

Let me know if you are making a top-10 list, and what your list (or lists) include. I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

All my best wishes for the upcoming holidays and a BIG and happy year. Let's all look ahead to a year filled with love, creativity, joy, abundance and peace.