I began this month with a blog post about the pressure to improve ourselves (available here). I have the urge to reflect on whether I practiced what I preached.
I like January. Yes, it is the month of zero disposable income and long dark days. However, I find the run up to Christmas stressful, and I can’t help but feel a sense of relief that it is over for another year.
I wake up on the 1st January and think, “right, what has this year got in store?”, and I look at the things I would like to achieve. As January progresses, I reflect, and I reflect, and I reflect some more.
The first part of this reflection process is pretty basic. It is practical stuff, such as, is there still some money in my bank account? Or, have we managed to get back into the swing of school homework? Once I have covered this stuff, I can begin to look inwards.
Have I found this month hard? What have the challenges been that I have faced and how did I deal with them? Have I felt well, physically and emotionally? How have my relationships been?
If I can look back on these things and feel that I have had a good month, that I have felt well and I have had quality time with my loved ones, then great! I can head into February feeling motivated.
But, if I look back on the month and my little internal audit is less positive; that I have felt unwell in some way or I have been stressed and have missed time with others, what do I feel about that? How do I move forward into the next month with any positivity at all?
The purpose of this self-reflection is not to get into picking fault with myself. Its purpose is to take a breath (literally and metaphorically), acknowledge the challenges and their impact on me, and take some time to consider how I can change the things that are in my control and to let go of the things that are not.
Developing the ability to self-reflect has significantly improved my chances of bouncing back after a difficult or stressful period in my life. Combined with the self-kindness I described here it has allowed me to decrease the amount of pressure I would put on myself to ‘do better’ and find a way to move forward.
Self-reflection can take many forms. Sometimes it is a good long conversation with a loved one, sometimes it is taking a long walk that gives me the space to think. Quite often, however, it involves writing down my thoughts and feelings, as the process of writing is both cathartic and clarifying. Today, my writing has taken the form of this blog post!
So, when I look back on January 2020, overall, I can say, “that was a good month”. I have overcome some challenges, and I have worked hard on my business by writing weekly blog posts and increasing my online presence. I have had fun with my family, and I feel fitter and healthier than I did at the start of the month.
Yes, January has been a good month. But if it hadn’t been, then that would have been OK too. Because we always have another chance to make things better, and maybe, February can be that month for you.