As we approach the end of the year, we request that you use the following approach (which is in The Coach’s Corner every year at this time) to be complete with the past, wipe the slate clean, and prepare yourself for a loving, joyous, and prosperous 2014. Don’t think about doing it. Just do it. You won’t be sorry and you’ll be pretty happy when it’s done.
The freedom of completion
Let's explore the phenomenon of being complete. The first part of being complete is to notice that we naturally want to allow ourselves to express whatever we are experiencing. You see this most clearly with little children. They never hesitate to let you know exactly what they are feeling. Simply said, laugh when you are happy, cry when you are sad, yell when you are angry, and apologize when you screw up! Learn to get present to the moment and be aware of your body sensations, your emotions and your thoughts about yourself and others. Little by little, you will get faster at noticing yourself in the present moment and be able to respond authentically and responsibly to what is happening with you. You will be amazed at the freedom gained just by this simple process.
The second part of being complete is to learn to let go of grudges, just like children in a playground. When someone takes away their toy, they might throw a tantrum, but when they have fully let out their anger, they usually go back to playing together! We highly intelligent, highly evolved and oh-so-cool grown-ups, however, might not ever speak to each other again! And not only that, we are righteous about not having to because, after all, it IS their fault! So for us, this is really the hard part.
All kinds of things happen to us that we are not happy about, but rather than expressing ourselves and then letting go of the anger, we tend to hold on to it. We get righteous about our point of view instead of communicating it. We have the choice to be either right or be happy, and we cannot be both! Unfortunately, people think that they get to be happy by being right, but it's not true. Those choices are mutually exclusive.
If you want to be happy, you need to give up your attachment to being right and that ultimately means you must forgive yourself and others for the things that happen in life that you do not like.
If you want to be blissfully happy or even immensely sane, forgive others and forgive yourself for everything. Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself. Through the act of forgiveness, by giving up resentment and the right to punish, you are left with serenity, freedom and peace of mind. You will again see the world through the bright eyes of a child.
Try This Exercise
We have discovered a completion process that embodies these principles, one which, if you are willing, allows you to express that which you have experienced and let go of the past. It is ideally suited for this time of year so that you can be complete with whatever happened in the year 2013 (and even before that) and not drag it into 2014. So PLEASE, do this exercise.
Keep in mind that completion is a function of your willingness to be complete, your willingness to express that which you experience, and your willingness to forgive and let go.
Do this exercise with your co-workers or family or a friend. It is very effective to do this in a group and you can also do it as an individual at any time you want to be complete with something. We have done this many times at the end of the year with our clients, always with spectacular results. It’s a six-step process and it’s really important that you express everything, answering each question fully.
First, "What did you accomplish this year?" Acknowledge all of your accomplishments for 2013. Just acknowledge what you did this year. Include the big things, [You cleaned out the garage or cured a rare disease], the little things [You cleaned out the garage], include everything. Don't rip yourself off with the "that doesn't count," the "yeah, buts" or the "if only's." Just acknowledge your big and small accomplishments.
Second, acknowledge what occurred in 2013 that was a source of pleasure. "What gave you pleasure this past year?" List it all. I literally went through my calendar for 2013, one day at a time, and made a rather long list of what I accomplished and what brought me pleasure. It was a very exciting list. And I now have these lists for every year since 1994.
Third, express your disappointments, unfulfilled expectations, thwarted intentions and sources of displeasure in 2013. Again, list them all.
Fourth, answer the question: "Who do you need to forgive and for what?" It’s crucial that we be willing to forgive each other and ourselves for whatever happened. When we don't forgive, that grudge takes up space in our life and we cannot put anything in that same space to make ourselves happy or healthy. Grudges use up our life's oxygen. To the extent that we are unwilling to forgive is the extent to which we miss out on wonderful things we want because we simply have no place to hold them.
The Fifth question is: "Who do you need to thank and for what?" This is the most inspiring part of the process, as it gives you an opportunity to really acknowledge each person in your life as if today were the last day of your life. So many people contribute to us each and every day, and we usually don't stop to say thank you. "Thank you for remembering my birthday, thank you for being kind, thank you for respecting me and listening to me, thank you for making my paycheck good every single time."
When we do this process in organizations and people go around the room thanking each other, it is really very inspiring. By the way, don't forget to also thank yourself.
The sixth and last question simply is: "Is there anything else you need to say about the year 2013 in order to be complete?" If you just ask yourself each of these questions, what is there will immediately come to light. Whatever comes up, that's the answer.
There are no hidden meanings and no right answers. You do not have to search through your mind or struggle with the process. Whatever is necessary to be said will be readily apparent.
Finally, completion is a phenomenon that lives only in language, it's always and only just people talking, and our speaking creates our reality. In other words, the only way you can be truly complete with something is to declare yourself complete. After you have acknowledged your accomplishments, your disappointments, forgiven and thanked people and said anything else you need to say about 2013, declare yourself complete. Move forward, let the past go, and bring on the New Year.
Enjoy! Be happy. Be Complete. Be free. Happy New Year.