Let history light the path.

What’s the story you’re telling yourself today about last calendar year? Did you heave a sigh of relief at the arrival of 2023, saying something to the effect of “good riddance” to the year behind?

Maybe you’re seeing the new year as a fresh start, a chance to begin again.

And: Maybe today, January 3, you’re already feeling the pressure of returning to the demands of the working world, wishing you had just a little more time to re-boot.

And: Given the unsettling state of big things (geopolitical affairs, the global economy, climate change) and nag of little things (laundry you ignored over the holiday?), perhaps you’re coming into today with a mixed bag of feelings.

Wherever you are mentally/emotionally today, on this third day of the new year, consider this trite but true aphorism: You’ve survived 100% of your bad days.

You have a track record of success. With that in mind, let’s pick up where we left off yesterday.

(And a note, for anyone who hasn’t been following along in recent days: I’m giving followers here a free walk-through of a course called “Your First 100 Days,” a structured approach to help turn ideas into action. First post in this series is here.)

Yesterday’s exercise was to review/record the events of 2022 by looking through calendars, social feeds, playlists, etc. The purpose of the work was to make note of things that happened during the year without interpreting or judging them.

Today’s work is to revisit those notes and look for patterns and insights. In the workbook there are two sheets for this exercise (images below) – easy enough to do these on blank sheets of paper, though.

Label one sheet “Parking Lot” and the other “Insights.”

As you review the notes you wrote about last year, ask yourself questions like these:

  • When I had a choice between doing A or B, what did I choose and why?
  • How did friends/family/colleagues help me through challenges?
  • What were the highlights and moments I was proud of?
  • What do I wish I could go back and do over?
  • When I look at last January, what differences and similarities do I see between then and now?
  • How did I get unstuck? Where did I stay stuck?

The Insights sheet is for, well, insights that you have about yourself as you review the past year and contemplate answers to the questions above (and others that you’ll come up with on you own).

The “Parking Lot” sheet is for noting ideas or details that pop in your mind but that are unrelated or tangential. An example might be remembering the need to schedule an appointment for the coming year. Just jot that down on the Parking Lot sheet so you’ll have a place to put the information but won’t get derailed from the main exercise. We’ll come back to the Parking Lot later.

This exercise will take about 30 minutes. Don’t overthink it. If you get stuck in the exercise, try removing yourself from the story, looking at yourself from an outside, third-party view. (Ask: “How did last year’s me handle X?”)

When you’ve completed this work, you may want to keep the sheets close at hand for the rest of the day. I often find that I continue to have insights, and sometimes those later “aha” moments are big.

The point of this work is to look at your own history as a guide, a teacher that can illuminate the path ahead.

In other words: New year; same you.

So, it’s worth spending some time learning about that same you who’s embarking on a fresh journey, using experience as an asset.

Tomorrow we’ll take one final walk through the year-in-review notes, and then we’ll shift toward what’s ahead.


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