With four days left of 2018, most of us have probably written out our list of resolutions, the goals we hope to achieve in the coming year, and maybe a few things we’re saying goodbye to in 2019. Some of these lists might already be tacked to the office corkboard, hung up on the fridge, or maybe even burned in a holiday fire, but either way, we’re clear what we want more of — and what we want much less of as we make our yearly leap into a fresh start.
But what about everything that was great about 2018?
Scientists have recently outlined seven ancient instincts that exist within every human being — Anger, Fear, Grief, Play, Pleasure, Care, and Seeking — the most important of which is our impulse to seek. Setting our sights on all the things we wish to manifest is a necessary part of living a fulfilled and inspired life. Being in a constant state of seeking is the foundation of our spiritual unfoldment. You can’t become a change junkie without seeking positive change and taking the steps to actualize it. But this is only half of the picture.
I speak a lot about a teaching from the kabbalists that revolves around appreciation. The kabbalists say that “blessings cannot rest in a place of darkness,” meaning when we are overly focused on lack or negativity, we aren’t making space for our blessings, no matter how right or proactive our actions may be. Without a consciousness of gratitude, we are guaranteed an experience that falls short of our dreams.
When we have a desire for something, it becomes so easy to only see the lack of the thing we wish to manifest. We set goals, make plans, and execute them only ever looking at the top of the mountain in the distance. What we miss is the beauty of the journey. It’s the process that is the purpose, not the destination or achievement.
Before making the final touches to your list of goals for 2019, take a moment to really appreciate everything that you achieved in 2018. Grab your journal and answer the following questions:
What new friendships did you make? What relationships did you heal or fortify?
Relationships are important aspects of our lives. When relationships are suffering, it is difficult to show up fully in our lives. And when our most intimate relationships are flourishing, we feel as though we can do anything. What relationships are you most grateful for this year? Were there any that you healed or even gracefully released? Who did you meet that became an ally, a new source of support, or brought a new sense of joy into your life?
What did you overcome? Make a list of every challenge that you faced. What did you learn? How did it help you grow? Were there challenges that you feel you failed at overcoming? If so, how can you shift that perspective to see the inherent gift? Whether it is facing an internal struggle, dealing with loss, or rising to the occasion after a failure, the most difficult moments of the year brought with them just as many gifts as the positive ones. As you reflect on what you faced and overcame, don’t forget to dig for the gold within the challenge.
What are you proud of having completed? Even if it’s just organizing your closest, the completion of projects that are, let’s say, less-than-exciting is something worth celebrating. Write down everything you completed. Maybe it was finishing each book in your book club, sticking to a 30-day health challenge, or kicking an unhealthy habit. It could be every day that you woke up early and meditated, every day that you sat down to work on your novel or your art or your business. It could be following through on intentions to cook at home more or use your phone less. Whatever it is, no matter how small, write it down as a win.
What’s something new that you learned about yourself?
Every year, we grow and change. The experiences we have across each of the 365 days of any given year shape and transform us. We can use them to create stories about how we aren’t good enough, how it didn’t go as we planned, how we messed up, or how we missed out. Or, we can use them to get to know ourselves in a deeper way. What is one positive thing you learned about yourself this year? What about this makes you proud to be you? Now, what is one thing you aren’t proud of? How can you bring more love and appreciation to that part of you?
We can climb and climb and climb, and eventually, we will reach the top of the mountain. However, without reflection and appreciation, the top of the mountain won’t feel the way we imagine that it will. An unfortunate truth is that the joy we experience when we achieve a goal is short-lived—lasting perhaps only a moment or at best maybe a week. True and lasting fulfillment is experienced through the process, each step, every day, in simple yet profound ways. Success isn’t money in the bank, a bigger house, or a million followers. It’s the ability to share; it’s being able to build a home with people that you love; it’s having the chance to give of yourself in every way possible.
Your goals and desires are important, and the world requires talents and gifts that only you can provide. But not at the expense of your joy and gratitude. I wish you all the best in your endeavors in the year to come and a consciousness that allows you to appreciate all that your good work brings into your life.
THOUGHT INTO ACTION
Spend time with these journal questions and see what else you can find to be grateful for in 2018. Gratitude begets more gratitude, so there’s no way to do too much! Share with me in the comments some of the things you find so I can support you in your appreciation.