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‘Tis the time to retreat, reflect and rejuvenate

Tinsel is sparkling, fairy lights are twinkling, the tree is up and the Advent calendar is already a third of the way open. It is almost the most wonderful time of the year.

Only this week the courageous ‘Silence Breakers’ were honoured as the Persons of the Year by Time magazine and Twitter announced the most retweeted tweets of the year. Doubtless, such lists and accolades will follow until the end of the year with weekend supplements chronicling the passing of another year, whimsical TV shows casting a critical eye back at the fashion hits and misses of the last 12 months, highbrow blogs listing the must-read books of 2017 as we hurtle towards the Awards season. Then we move on.

Blink and you’ve missed it. In just three weeks’ time the talk will be 2018 – the new fashion trends, political forecasts, winter sun destinations, colour of the year (Ultraviolet, for those who haven’t yet heard), and anything else under the sun you can look forward to.

If endless 2017 lists with their winners and losers, Person of the Year covers and top tweets are anything to go by, the next three precious weeks are also the time to take stock before you move at lightning speed into the new year and 2017 becomes just another year for the annals never to be looked back at again except when Facebook Memories brings up a photo or two in a few years’ time. Time to take stock, count your blessings, celebrate your accomplishments, mourn your losses so come the first day of the brand new year, you can begin with a clean slate. Not just the proverbial one, one that is carefully constructed after informed mindfulness.
So here are my suggestions for the next three weeks to make sure you calibrate right, make peace with the year gone, and step into the new one in the right frame of mind.

Count your blessings
It may sound insignificant but counting your blessings will immediately put you in the right frame of mind and give your inner calm. Today I pulled a muscle. Writhing in pain, struggling to move my left arm, for each tiny movement would send a shooting pain up my spine, I couldn’t help feel thankful for being able-bodied. Within those few minutes, I thought of how much we take our bodies for granted. How, when you are fit and healthy, you never realise how much work and effort goes into a single movement, how that single movement is the difference between being stuck in bed and being able to go out, work, earn a living and enjoy the little pleasures of life. It is only when we are in pain we appreciate what we have, which goes for not just our bodies perhaps, but all else we’ve been blessed with.

Celebrate your accomplishments
Just this year, I started three new projects, some of which I had no previous experience of and involved a lot of learning. Caught up in the daily hustle of trying to stay on top of things and trying to impress new clients and colleagues, I would often forget to take a break and give myself some credit. Occasionally I would also despair at the work load. Then I realised, it isn’t until you take the time to cheer yourself on that you’d find the strength to tackle new tasks.

Embrace the new challenges
Over the last few months I have come to gain a whole new appreciation for Thomas Edison’s words of wisdom: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” This year, or the next, or the one after that, we will always face a new challenge, whether it is a new job, a new business or a new colleague you don’t quite know how to interact with. I have come to find this year, more than ever, some doors open so as we walk through, we learn new skills and new ways of being and come out stronger at the other end. See each experience you’ve been through, each person you’ve met, each encounter you’ve had this year as an opportunity and ask yourself what you’ve learned from each and how they’ve shaped you for the next challenge. Once you’ve done this, you will feel ready to embrace the next challenge.

Mourn your losses
It may be a family member who passed away, or a relationship that turned sour or a job that ended this year, take the time to grieve in your own way. Whether that involves quiet contemplation or cutting up your ex’s clothes and burning them in a heap, whatever it is, once grieved, you will draw from within you the strength to move on. Often, we move on from a loss, head held high, internalising the pain, not realising it will pour out at an inappropriate moment to punch us in the gut. If you haven’t made the time to mourn for anyone or anything you’ve lost this year, set aside the last couple of weeks of the year so you can purge the pain and begin again.

Take some me time
Between family and friends, the rundown to Christmas can whiz past before we find ourselves unceremoniously hurled into the new year. Don’t overlook yourself during the run up to the festive period. The holidays will be booked, the turkey roasted, the Christmas shopping done, but not if you fail to look after yourself. Spare a half hour daily whether it is reading a few pages of a good book or pampering yourself with a beauty treatment, or keeping fit with a quick exercise routine. Come Christmas, you will feel a lot healthier, come New Year’s, you’ll be ready to take on whatever 2018 throws at you.

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