2022 definitely had some highs and lows: the COVID virus brought out the best and the worst in people, the pandemic was finally declared over, we witnessed some strong divisiveness and togetherness; it exposed strengths and weaknesses from all levels of governments, in the media, and in various infrastructure and health care systems.
We had supply chain issues, substantial inflation, rapid and significant interest rate increases. So much of what transpired, seemed to appear as reactions versus measured responses to the events.
As we are nearing the end of 2022, I make time, as I do every year, to reflect on what was a very interesting year for the above reasons and more. Here are the big lessons I learned and wish to share.
Lesson 1: Thoughts Are Things
Because there was so much going on that was well beyond my control I really focused on working on my “inner game” and how I am being in this world.
Through my metaphysical learning process it really became apparent that it was crucial to nurture my mind with positive information in a world that seemed to be feeding on negativity as presented through the media.
Whether the information was fact or fiction is not my point, the point is we need to be the guardian of our minds and what we allow in because thoughts are things, and when mixed with emotion can be incredibly powerful in both a positive or negative way.
I always have a choice of what I combine with those thoughts to either support or oppose my well-being.
The first thing for me to do was to wake up from a sleeping state of doing and becoming mindful as much as possible.
By focusing on the positive possibilities and combining them with clarity of purpose, I found that I became consistently happier, more effective, and more resilient to negativity.
I quickly realized that even though I am awake I spend almost all the working day not being aware or mindful of what I am doing, but just doing!
In fact I started to realize that I am awake each day for mere seconds.
As a result I downloaded a reminder app called “Retimer” where I entered in several repeating daily reminders to stop what I am doing for a few seconds and “wake up” to be present and aware of what I am doing, what I am thinking about, and how I am being in that moment.
This has made a significant improvement in how I approach life. I find myself being more mindful more regularly. This leads me to the next lesson learned
Lesson 2: Avoiding the Excessive Importance Trap
In 2022, I found myself getting caught up in the divisiveness issues, and felt my emotions and expectations overriding my happiness and sense of well-being.
I quickly realized that I was projecting my expectations on the world, which in hindsight is quite naïve and harmful to me.
I was reacting because my emotions were taking over and my intelligence was being compromised by the overpowering emotions based upon my expectations.
When I took time to step back and got quiet about it all, it came down to one main theme, which is called excessive importance.
When I place excessive importance on events, thoughts, outcomes, etc., I find myself to be more rigid in my expectations and increase the probability to be disappointed or upset.
With that excessive importance, I found that my emotions were heightened and my heightened energy was being focused on things external to me, rather than the things to which I have the best chance to control, such as how I am being and how I respond in different situations.
Because I was asleep while being awake, I would react instead of mindfully responding. Until I take that second to step back, to engage my observer mode, to read the physical signs of my gut or chest tightening and realize that my emotions were taking over, I was at the mercy of my emotional response.
Lesson 3: Small Habits Done Consistently Can Create a Massive Difference
In my drive to continue to be successful in my work and home life I have read many books on success and one thing that was consistent was those successful people maintained daily habits which weren’t always big tasks.
They obviously plan, prioritize, and work on their business’ key metrics, but they also focus on other habits around themselves and their health, such as getting proper sleep, exercising daily, listening to uplifting music, taking time to unplug, taking time to learn new things, and they all start their day with meditation.
Over the past few years I have committed to exercising almost daily and that has been great for my physical and mental state.
Even if I do 15 minutes of body weight exercises, and stretching most days I feel better. Walking Zoso, our dog, everyday permits me to get present, be out in the fresh air, and slow down unplug from the computer and business.
Another seemingly small habit that has become a significant aspect of my daily life is that I start every day with at least 10 minutes of meditation.
The meditations may be guided or using some background music conducive to meditation. Currently, I use two apps that can be downloaded on Google Play or Apple App store. They are “Waking Up” by Sam Harris which is focused on being present and mindful, and “Insight Timer”, which has literally tens of thousands of guided and music meditations on all sorts of subjects and durations. Daily meditations help me start every day by getting present and centered.
In addition to using a weekly planner through the coaching program I belong to I set daily top 3 priorities that I must complete no matter what happens in the day. This little habit creates a sense of accomplishment and momentum on a daily basis.
Lesson 4: Take Nothing for Granted
If COVID taught us nothing but not to take things for granted, that would be a tremendous life lesson to learn and incorporate into our daily lives.
This was a prevalent theme throughout 2022 for me. In order to maintain that focus and to remain in gratitude I journal at least five waves of fortune or success in a living document.
Sometimes, it is less than easy and I call those situations ripples instead of waves. It can be even as simple as I hit all green lights while driving; we got a booking for our Maui property, I received an unsolicited phone call from an interested person or a referral from one of my clients.
What I found by doing this is that I notice things, events, and actions by me or others that positively impact my life that day.
Every night and every morning I think of three things I am thankful for, such as I woke up this morning…this is a good day.
Lesson 5: Everything is Impermanent.
Everything has a finite existence and the only thing that is consistent is change.
Nothing is permanent. This last lesson learned may be the most powerful lesson that I endeavour to maintain top of mind.
Every minute, hour, day, week, month, and year come and go and once they are gone they will never come back. That same philosophy applies to our experiences and relationships.
While we were in Maui this November, I watched storm swells take the beach sand away in front of our building in the matter of two days. It does come back but not as often as it used to and there is no guarantee that it will come back.
In my business life the theme of impermanence clearly caught my attention this year as a few of my clients have begun to have health issues or have passed away.
As a music lover, I recognize that many of my favourite bands are disbanding or members are passing away and I will never see them perform live again.
I now savour those great moments that I may have taken for granted in the past. Sunsets, sunrises, great conversations, great musical performances, friends, family, loving relationships and so on, are wonderful things to experience and notice.
The point of this is not to look at impermanence in a sad perspective, but to embrace all the wonderful things, people, places and events that make up our daily lives in those moments that they are happening.
Thank you all for being a part of my life.
To your success and happiness!