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The Magic of Transitions: How to End Mindfully and Start Skillfully

"Not in his goals but in his transitions man is great." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

As we approach the Holidays and towards the end of the year, I hear more and more of the popular song, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." I believe, as you are reading this, you may have already started to hum the melody and silently sing it. Maybe that song is one of your favorite holiday songs in your playlist. Since I began to hear more and more of this cheerful song, I realized I need to think deeply about the month we are going through.

What do we experience at the end of each year? Do we feel captivated with the cheer and joy of the Holidays and the new year celebrations with self-appreciation and a sense of celebrating our journeys? Is our sense of joy shadowed by preparing long lists of new year resolutions and rushing to set new goals for the next year with a sense of urgency? Let’s pause here to take a moment and acknowledge some of the energies that come up. What do we experience as we have not concluded 2021 and have not started 2022 yet? As the song suggests, we are living the most wonderful moments of the year. Do we feel as wonderful and as cheerful as the song implies? What type of emotions emerges for you in this transition period?

Transitions can be anticipated or unanticipated. In either case, they trigger change. Change can be overwhelming for some people because of the feeling of fear that can come with it. For the year-end, which is quite an anticipated transition for all of us, things might be a little bit different. For some people, the year ends may be festive while for others, it might feel like trying to finish a race or a time to push harder to complete or reach some goals. Not only people but companies also go through this transition period. Year-end transitions even start earlier than December for most companies. The last couple of months of the year is always hectic for businesses with the budget processes, completion of projects, year-end evaluations, etc. While people go through their transitions, they also facilitate the transition of the businesses to the next year. There is always so much going on. For entrepreneurs like me, it feels like we need a break from this busyness, after working 24/7/365.

Ending to begin

December is a month of dichotomy and transitions. All transitions start with an ending. Farewell to the old and welcome to the new. Every year, we go through this ending process. We transition ourselves amidst the dichotomy of ending and beginning. That is where the magic happens. Transitions are great endeavors for learning and growth while they bring different waves of feelings and energies based on the balance between the poles of each dichotomy. In every transition, there is a space for “letting go.” A clarification of what needs to end is important to move forward with a beginner’s mind.

Time to reflect

This time of the year is great for reflection. I have mentioned the importance of reflection in one of my posts this year. "How can you use the value of yesterday's experience now to create more value for tomorrow?" Keeping a journal and a log of past learnings regularly can help you work on a deeper level at year ends. You can do this for yourself and if you are a leader working with teams, you and your team can benefit highly from a reflection exercise. What were some major wins and breakthroughs in 2021? What are the lessons learned?

Celebrating the wins

It is important to acknowledge our major successes as the year ends. Not everyone can find the time to celebrate the wins as they take place. But everyone deserves the moment of celebration for every win. Enjoy this time of the year to praise your journey by acknowledging the strengths that carried you to the year-end and the values that kept you on the track like a compass in adversity and challenge.

Planning for the future

After working on the meaning of past experiences through reflection and celebration, it may be a good time to start planning for the upcoming year. Some people feel that they need to set some goals immediately, in a rush, before the year ends. Later, those goals may play against them. Chasing wrong goals may demotivate or overwhelm people. Goal setting is an art and like the artist, you need to have the inspiration to set goals so that those goals keep you motivated and inspired. Your goal must be worthy enough to commit to it. Per Michael Bungay Stanier, there are three attributes to a worthy goal; a worthy goal is thrilling, important, and daunting. It is important to have goals that speak to your values, serve your purpose, stretch your limits to acceptable levels, and fit your vision. Do not rush to set goals, do it the right way by working with a coach. You might want a thinking and accountability partner to make the courageous leap to set some different set of goals for 2022.

Making the right investment

Health is wealth and time is limited. Make sure you are paying attention to your health, using your time wisely, and making the right investments for the happy life you want to design for yourself. Invest in your well-being now to start the year with more energy. Resting, self-care, and mindfulness practices will keep you grounded for your best start. Investing more for your well-being will bring more kindness and compassion into your life not only at the end of the year but always. Self-compassion is like the softener we use for laundry, it softens the effects of transitions. So, use it.

Staying Connected

We are wired to build connections. Showing our gratitude for people who have a great influence on our journeys is an important ingredient in life. This is also an investment to increase our social wealth and strengthen our support system. It is time to honor and show our appreciation to family, friends, peers, colleagues, to everyone who has played and will continue to play a role in our journey in life.

Today we are experiencing the un-balance of light and dark, the winter solstice, another transition in December. After the longest night today, gradually more daylight will accompany us. We are transitioning to brighter days. So, let’s set our intention for a more balanced, happier, and purposeful life with a sense of release and ease into anticipated and unanticipated transitions which empower us. Our greatness lies in our approach to transitions.

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