As we come to the end of 2015, it’s helpful (and healing) to look back and reflect on how this year has been – and in particular to acknowledge our learnings.
For me this year has been far more transformational than I could ever have imagined (and often uncomfortably so!) In this blog post I’m sharing some BIG lessons that have come through for me during the year, as well as some personal decisions that have impacted on my life in a positive way.
Please note, this is an unashamedly long blog-post, but worth it – I promise!
Lesson No 1 – The gold in the darkness
This year did not go as planned for me at all. After a great start to 2015, by the end of the summer things began to go off track.
- Business dried up. Even my hypnotherapy practice was struggling and this had always provided a steady income for me.
- I started to feel as low as I’d done for many years – totally lacking in inspiration and energy.
- One family challenge after another seemed to come up – including serious health issues.
All of this rocked me and made me question the path I was on.
But even at the darkest of times this year, I tried to hold onto the fact it was all happening for a reason (even though this was super-tough at times).
In the last few months of 2015, I’ve done some profound inner work which I probably would have skirted around for years if everything had been ticking along nicely.
The most challenging of times has truly brought me the greatest of rewards – getting to know and embracing my full self, giving myself the space to see the direction I want to move in and letting go of what wasn’t serving me.
In the darkness we’re forced to recognise and draw on our inner treasures and that’s exactly what’s happened for me over the last few months of 2015.
That’s why I can honestly say that this year has been one of the most transformational I’ve experienced in recent years (which is quite something, as my work is all about transformation).
Over to you: Take some time to reflect on any challenges you’ve experienced this year. What did you learn? Where did they lead you? What was the gold in your darkness?
And if you’re ready to do some super-powerful inner work in the first 3 months of 2016, click here for an invitation to Your Heroine’s Journey.
Lesson No 2 – Choosing a word for the year is more powerful than you imagine
In the past I’d always thought that choosing a word for the year was fun to do, but not hugely meaningful. How wrong I was!
My word for the year has been UNBOUND. I chose this as one of my core desired feelings at the end of 2014 when working through ‘The Desire Map‘ by Danielle Laporte (which is highly recommended btw).
Early this year I created this image to sum up what unbound means to me.
I never imagined the huge impact this word would have on me personally and in my business.
It was a big part of the inspiration for me to write my book ‘Heal Your Inner Good Girl’ which is about reconnecting with your Unbounded Self (look out for it in the Spring of 2016!).
When I came up with the concept, I was excited about getting to know my Unbounded Self. After all, this is what my year was all about – letting go of limitations and embracing myself fully.
But when I created a meditation designed to help me connect with my Unbounded Self, I was shocked to discover what she was like.
My Unbounded Self was a dark, powerful, elemental force. At first I couldn’t see her clearly – she was like a whirling energy that felt out of control.
It was actually uncomfortable for me to spend time in her presence. (I’d actually been much more comfortable during the meditation I created to connect with my inner good girl!)
I ended the Unbounded Self meditation sensing that she was full of rage which left me totally confused, until I recognised that she represented the full expression of me – including the heavier, darker emotions that I’d often suppressed in the past.
Of course she was full of rage – I’d rarely allowed myself to express anger. As a 9 on the enneagram, I pretty much do anything I can to avoid conflict. But my Unbounded Self was calling me to acknowledge my rage, my anger, my frustration and to channel this powerful energy.
As I wrote about this for my book, I realised that many women would feel the same. Many of us were told that being angry wasn’t ‘nice’- the message being, we should put up and shut up.
But what happens to all of that anger and rage?
It’s there, bubbling away, and unless we find a way to express it, our anger can become toxic.
So by choosing ‘unbound’ as my word for the year, I’ve connected with a part of myself I’d disowned and in doing that I feel more powerful, more complete, more whole. And it’s taken me in a new direction in the work I’m focusing on with my clients – helping women to express and be their full, unbounded selves.
Over to you: If you haven’t already, choose a word that describes how you want to feel in 2016. Know that it will impact on you in ways you can’t yet imagine.
Lesson No 3 – Get the freakin’ full body massage
Having a monthly massage has been a non-negotiable self-care ritual for me since I did my counselling training a few years ago.
I know I can hold emotional and psychological tension in my body, particularly my shoulders, and my monthly massage makes sure it doesn’t get a chance to build up.
Before this year I’d always opted to have a back, neck and shoulder massage. I knew these were the areas I tended to hold tension and I also hated to have my legs massaged – in fact they always felt so tender and sensitive that I literally wanted to kick any massage therapist who came near them!
But I knew that the areas we resist being pummelled are probably the areas where we need it most (the same goes for inner work – the gold is ALWAYS in the places we don’t want to look).
Our legs are all about the ability to move forward and by neglecting them, I was preventing myself from moving forward freely.
So this year I bit the bullet and told my massage therapist, Dannie, that I was going to try a full body massage. I breathed deeply as she massaged my legs and affirmed to myself, ‘I’m willing to move forward’.
And do you know what? It wasn’t as bad as I expected. In fact, it felt amazing for my whole body to benefit from a massage.
I couldn’t believe that I’d been having half a massage for so long.
Even though it’s painful sometimes when Dannie gets to my legs, I know I’m enjoying a much fuller experience.
Over to you: What are you feeling resistance to at the moment? Can you find a way to be bold and go there? How can you make self-care more of a priority in 2016? Where in your life would you benefit from going all in? Don’t be satisfied with half measures
Lesson No 4 – Good girl goals don’t work
One of the revelations I’ve had this year is that my Inner Good Girl has been having a far bigger impact on me than I’d previously imagined.
I always knew I had a part of me that wanted me to stay quiet and small, but as I’ve been working on my book I’ve realised that my Inner Good Girl was much more complex than that.
As well as holding me back, she was very often responsible for pushing me forwards.
My Inner Good Girl is the part of me that wants to keep up with others and be seen as successful. And this means she is BIG on goals.
The problem is that the goals my Inner Good Girl pushes me to move towards are very often out of alignment with my true desires. This means it’s blooming hard work to build up the momentum to achieve them.
An example: Earlier this year I thought I’d had a brilliant idea when I decided to set a goal for myself to reach financial freedom by my 45th birthday, at the end of 2016. The inspiration came to me suddenly and initially I was really excited by it.
I’m a quick action-taker so I recorded a video stating my goal and asked others to join me. I knew that by making a public declaration, I’d be more committed to the outcome.
All went well at first – lots of people were interested and wanted to join me. I put a strategy in place and even ran a free financial freedom challenge.
But as I moved into the latter part of the year, I just couldn’t get excited about my financial freedom goal any more. In fact, the very idea of working towards it felt draining.
It was then I realised that this was a Good Girl Goal – a goal I’d set for myself because it seemed ‘right’. It was a clear, definite goal, one that I knew others would be interested in AND it would be a huge achievement when I reached it. Plus it would make me look super-successful.
All the things that my Inner Good Girl valued.
But as I stripped it back, I realised that I’m not actually that driven by the idea of financial freedom.
Of course, it would be nice to have (I mean, who wouldn’t want to be financially free?), but ‘nice to have’ just isn’t compelling enough for me.
Good Girl Goals don’t cut it. They drain your energy, rather than inspire you. They feel like a chore, rather than a joy. They constrict, rather than expand.
So, I decided to let my financial freedom goal go. I’ve set my intention and who knows, maybe I will be financially free by the end of 2016? But I’m not going to strive for it.
Over to you: Check in with any goals you’ve already made for 2016 – do they feel like Good Girl Goals? Are they about looking good, rather than feeling amazing? If so, ask yourself, ‘What do I really want?’ and set some new Unbounded Self intentions.
Lesson No 5 – You’re often far closer to your dreams than you imagine
This follows on from lesson number 4 as when I started to reflect on my financial freedom goal, I realised that I already had much of what I was striving for.
You know when you do those ‘ideal day’ exercises? You imagine what your ideal day would be like and write down exactly what you would do, who you’d spend time with, where you’d be.
I’ve done that exercise countless times and even included it as part of my financial freedom challenge.
When I write about my ideal day, it’s always pretty much the same – I’m living by the sea with Mr H. I get up each day, do some yoga, write, see a one-to-one client in my gorgeous therapy room, go for a walk by the sea, have lunch with a friend and then cook dinner for Mr H and I.
It’s not too ‘out there’, is it? But this is what would make me happy. This is my ideal day.
And a couple of months ago, as I was out for a walk on Southampton Common I realised that actually I was pretty much living my ideal life right now.
I don’t live right on the sea, but I do live on the south coast within easy access to the beach. And apart from that, I can tick every single box on my ideal day checklist.
I couldn’t believe I’d never seen this before. It was only when I allowed myself to slow down, do less and shift my priorities that I realised I pretty much have everything I wanted right now.
My. Ideal. Life.
I simply allowed myself to appreciate all that I have already. Something I knew and was teaching to others, but wasn’t fully doing myself.
And I guess it’s not just me that this is the case for.
Over to you: When you think about your ideal day, how much of it have you actually got access to already? Rather than focusing on how far away your dreams seem, choose to notice how close they are to you.
Lesson No 6 – Choosing to go grey
This was part of my commitment to being ‘unbound’ in 2015. I decided to stop dying my hair and allow my natural grey to come through.
I got my first grey hairs when I was in my mid-teens and as I had dark brown hair, I noticed them immediately.
I only had a couple at first, but by my late twenties, they were much more noticeable and I started to dye my hair.
After 15 years of doing this every few weeks, I was completely fed up with it. I hated when my grey roots started to come through and was really conscious of them.
Mr H has been grey for years and encouraged me to follow suit. And I told myself that maybe when I was 50, I’d allow my grey to come through. (Why 50? I really don’t know!)
But was as I got towards the end of 2014, I asked myself, ‘Why not now?’ I had a strong desire to be completely me, truly authentic and how could I be that if I was slapping on dye every four weeks?
I talked to my hairdresser and he said that the grey would suit my skin colour and as I still had some dark hairs, it would be gradual process. So I decided to go for it.
I can’t tell you how liberating it was to stop dying my hair. But it was scary too as more and more grey came through.
For the first time in my life, I was going to have fair hair. I imagined that I’d look completely different. Would my clothes suit me, or would I have to get a new wardrobe?
But to be honest, over a year on from the last time I dyed my hair, the grey is still not completely through. I still have a fair amount of dark hair and because it’s been such a gradual process, I don’t notice the difference too much (although lots of other people have commented on it, mostly complimentary!)
But when I pull my hair back and see the grey underneath, sometimes I wobble as I see myself as an older woman.
Being young has always been part of my identity. People have often commented that I look young for my age and as I don’t have children, I’ve never moved into the ‘mother’ phase of my life.
So now it feels like I’m making a huge leap from young girl to older woman, from maiden towards crone, jarring my sense of identity.
And then I remember the wisdom I’ve gathered over the years through experience, the way I’m able to express myself more fully and know myself more completely and I lean into the joy of being a wiser, wilder older woman.
And it’s such a relief to be more fully me, to show the true me, instead of hiding behind hair dye.
Over to you: Where are you hiding a part of yourself? Where are you clinging on to an old identity that no longer serves you? What change could you make that you would allow you to be more you?
Lesson No 7 – Knowing it’s okay to be inconsistent
This has been a BIG lesson for me this year.
As a recovering good girl, I like to do things right and I’ve always been told that consistency is key in all parts of life, particularly in business.
That’s one of the reasons I always sent weekly newsletters to my community – every Wednesday, regular as clockwork. I blogged pretty much every week and posted consistently on social media.
Most of the time this felt good. Like you, I’m a creative and can always find something to write about and share.
But sometimes, I really didn’t feel like writing. Even when I didn’t have anything compelling to share, I felt I had to go ahead and do it anyway. It was like I was this content-producing machine that couldn’t stop. But of course, I’m not a machine. I’m a woman, which means I operate in a cyclic rather than linear way.
My very nature means that I’m inconsistent (this is one of the key learnings I took from Lisa Lister’s awesome book, ‘Code Red‘). So trying to fit into a consistent structure just wasn’t working for me. In fact, this year I saw it was draining me more than I realised.
Towards the end of the summer when I started to feel low and burned out, I knew that something had to change. As I took time to rest and recover, I stepped back from regular blogging. I let go of the need to send my newsletter every week. And I spent less time on social media.
I decided to write to my community when I felt inspired to.
And guess what? The world didn’t stop.
In fact, I received more interest in what I had to say than ever before.
I have far more time for myself.
And, rather than beating myself up for being inconsistent (which in the past I equated with being lazy), I now listen to my needs and inspirations, rather than over-riding them.
It feels SO good.
Over to you: What are you doing in your life and your business because you feel you ‘should’? What are you aching to let go of? How would it be if you did just that? Lean into that feeling.
So, that’s the 7 life lessons that have come through for me in 2015 (actually as I was writing, I realised there were far more than 7, but once I got to 3000 words, I thought that was enough for now!)
I invite you to comment below with a life lesson you’ve learned this year – I’d love to hear what’s come through for you.
And I wish you a joy-filled and abundant 2016.
Your next step. Want to discover some super-powerful ways to create the abundant life you TRULY desire (and deserve!)? Click here to join my free 7-Day Money Mastery Kickstarter Challenge and get going right away.