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Jean Clare Igwegbe: Finish 2017 with Positivity & Gratitude

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2017 came with its own happy and not-so-happy moments that affected us, both as individuals and as a collective. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that I am not the only one still surprised at how the year seemed to go by like a flash.

Isn’t it amazing that while each successive day may seem to differ just slightly from the last, when a year’s worth of those days has passed, we may find ourselves in a whole different place from when we began.

Most people started the year thinking “Yes! This is my year!” Some are at this point looking back at the year feeling bewildered or completely shattered at how unkind 2017 has been to them. But before you completely give up, I want to encourage you to take a step back and look at the year for what it truly was.

I am a strong advocate for taking a significant amount of time to reflect. A lot of people shy away from the reflective process because in doing so, we are often faced with the uncomfortable picture of our mistakes, our errors and our weakness. However, while the past must stay in the past, I believe that reflection is a key component of personal growth; If you can look honestly at the various happenings in your life (spiritually, physically, emotionally, financially and more), acknowledge those not-so-pretty details and make adjustments as you journey through life, then you are more likely to move forward effectively. You then decide if you want to stay blind and wander through the dark, or bring awareness to the situation and give yourself a headlamp.

Reflection can be done at any time, but when the end of a year comes around, it always seems to join it naturally. So with the final days of 2017 making their appearance, I urge you to give yourself a day of downtime before January 1st, grab your journal and use these reflective snapshots as ammunition to shape the coming year. Some questions are mine, while others were inspired by people.

How are you different today than you were exactly a year ago?
What kind of person were you like 365 days ago? How was your attitude and your personal relations? How is the you today better than the you of yesterday? What areas need improvement? We tend to ignore self-assessment – which are our foundational pillars – in our quest for a better year or a better future. Good news is, there is always room for more improvement.

What goals did you set for yourself this year, and if you did not accomplish it, why did you not?
Even though a lot of people start the year assuring themselves of how the “year is going to be different”, many renege on their resolutions by the first quarter of the year or fail to follow through their goals by the end of the year. Think about the goals you set for yourself this year. If you achieved them, good job! If you did not, why? Did you set the goal because you loved the idea of it or because you really wanted to accomplish it? Really try to get to the root of the ‘why’, to enable you determine a better way to overcome the barricades to reaching these goals in the coming year.

What were the things you found really challenging, but can now see supported your growth?
We all know that our experiences are building blocks for our tomorrow. What tough experiences did you have that actually ended up helping you become a better, stronger, braver person?

Is there anything you achieved that you forgot to celebrate?
A lot of us are very guilty of this: rushing from moment to moment without taking out time to appreciate ourselves for how far we have come regardless of the magnitude of the steps that we had taken. In effect, we end up easily exhausted. Take a minute to congratulate yourself for all that you accomplished this year, no matter how little you think the achievement may have been.

Who are the people that really came through for you this year?
Sometimes, we are surprised by the people that stand by us and the ones who stand against us or drift away. Perhaps you met some really amazing people this year who have impacted so much in your life within the relatively short time you have known. On the other hand, there are the people who you have always known, who have stood by you in your times of need. Let us take some time to be thankful to those who stayed true, who gave us their attention, and loved us just as we are.

What are the things you tolerated for a long time, but now you will not?
Was there a straw that broke the camel’s back this year? What unacceptable behaviour do you now draw the line at — both your own and other people’s? What old garbage did you finally throw your deuces up to?

Where did the majority of your time go?
Was your time well spent this year? Time they say, is money. Each day, you have your cash of 24 hours, wherever you choose to invest those hours, you will see a return. If you invest your time in beneficial things like gaining knowledge, you will get smarter and better at what you do. Similarly, if you invest your time in things that aren’t beneficial to you like being around negative people, you will probably become a more negative person.

What were your top five moments of the year?
A lot of sad things went on this year. However, nothing is wholly bad, just like nothing is completely perfect. I am pretty sure that there were some bright spots in your year. It could be the things you achieved or experienced that were uplifting, transformative, and expansive. What were they?

If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself this time last year?
What words of love, encouragement or wisdom would have helped you face 2017 with more dignity and grace? What advice would you have given yourself? Perhaps they could also suffice for the coming year.

Were you happy?
Honestly, were you happy? Take a moment to reflect on the overall picture of last year. If the answer is a Yes, fantastic! If it is a No, that is OK! Breathe. Remember that happiness is your clay, and you are the potter. Take some time to make a checklist of what you need to do to make yourself happy. Proactively mould your happiness by the second. You deserve to be happy.

Whether your year was full of big changes, or small changes, or good ones, or not so good ones, it is always best to look back with a smile. Be proud of your accomplishments, and look at hardships as both opportunities and learning experiences.

I hope these questions have helped you gain the positivity and confidence to strut into 2018.
017, thank you for all you have given us. 018… Let’s do this!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Jean Clare Ogechi Okpala is a public health and development professional. She is particularly focused on mental health initiatives that involve children, adolescents, women and girls. She is also a content creator and writer. She blogs at: thejeanclarecollectives.wordpress.com. IG: jean_deroy Twitter: jean_deroy

1 Comment

  1. Nan

    December 13, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    I truly needed this. Thank you for sharing.

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