It’s that time of the year when our calendars are filled with activities and time seems to fly faster than usual. As we prepare to turn the page on 2011 and open the book of 2012, it is important to take time to reflect and plan.
Just as a trapeze artist cannot swing from one bar to another without letting go, an important part of starting a New Year is to first release the last. Carve out some time now to reflect, release and renew for 2012. A great way to facilitate this process is by writing a letter to a dear friend you haven’t seen this year. The letter won’t be mailed, but it will be filed away for you to review at this time next year.
Reflect on 2011
Begin the letter by writing about 2011. Describe the top 3 most significant events of the year with the detail you would want to share with your closest friend. Include not just the events, but also the feelings that accompanied these events and what you learned from them. Help your friend live the experiences through your letter. Also write about what you are grateful for as this year ends. Reminding ourselves about our blessings and what we have to celebrate lifts the spirit and generates a positive attitude for beginning the New Year. Include both personal and professional things for which you give thanks.
Include in your writing how you are different this year than last and why. We all grow each year, but often we forget to look back at where we started and the changes that have occurred. Remember measuring your children each year and marking their heights on the door jam? I can still recall my parents doing that and how excited my younger brother was when his height mark passed his older sisters! Those were visible signs of growth. The invisible signs are there too, you just might have to look harder to find them. Then, in your letter, make those growth marks visible to your friend and they will become memorable markers to you as well.
Goal Set for 2012
Once you have reflected on 2011 and released it by writing, continue writing to your friend about your hopes and goals for 2012. Describe where you want to be at this time next year. Include personal as well as professional dreams and aspirations. Write this part of your letter as if you could accomplish exactly what you want because you are guaranteed not to fail. Do not let your current reality hold you back. Go beyond the typical New Year’s Resolutions and create the year you want to have.
What do you want your practice to look like at the end of 2012? What new skills do you wish to develop? What do you want your team to look like? What do you want your patients to experience as a result of your care? Describe what you will create professionally this year.
Tell your friend about your personal goals. Describe what you want to achieve in your personal relationships. Write about how you want to grow personally. Tell your friend your goals for fun and fellowship. What do you want to accomplish in 2012 that will make this coming year the best it can be? Describe all of this in great detail.
Once you have finished your letter, place it in an envelope, address it and place it in a file in your desk so that this time next year, you can open it and read it yourself. It will then serve as the launching pad for writing your year-end 2012 letter.
I hope this becomes a habit for you and each year as you review, release and renew, you also REJOICE.