Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

6 Ways to Capture Your 2011 Life Lessons

We may have jumped ahead by planting the seed for your One Powerful Word 2012, but let’s not forget to capture our 2011 life lessons.

They are precious gems, indeed!

Have you ever noticed how insights that are so uplifting in one moment seem to dissolve in the next?

Unless we capture them and actually practice integrating them into our being, they will vanish into the mists.

How to Capture Your 2011 Life Lessons

I’ve recently read six extraordinary articles that offer different slants on learning from our life experiences. Some focus on 2011, one goes all the way back, and one focuses on the present moment, the culmination of 2011 and all our years.

I would like to do all these processes!  So I bet one of them may ring true for you.

Maia recommends taking a full day to focus on reflection and journaling on the past and coming year.  She offers 5 keys questions to deeply stimulate your thought process, including celebrating the positive.  She describes intentions in the following way and explains how intentions link to goals:

“Intentions come from the heart and soul – they are rooted in the values that are most important to you. An intention is connected to your life’s purpose, and is a specific way of expressing it at a given time in your life.”

Aileen offers an even more ambitious project.  She asks you to reflect and listen to your life story – starting at the beginning – and offers 15 questions to enable the process.  By knowing your life story, you can change any elements of it that no longer fit.  She invites you to:

“Do yourself a wonderful favor, and listen to your life story. Identify your life patterns. See what you need to change within your mind and your habits. See what you have changed and what you’ve accomplished and celebrate your successes, all of them, the big ones and the tiny ones.”

Tony explains the whole idea of a life “story” – or belief – in detail and how it can limit your life.  He then offers a simple template for examining the stories you’ve created in 7 different areas of your life.  He says:

“When I ask, what is your story costing you, I mean what is it you’re having to sacrifice to hold onto the belief your story is supporting? Is it costing you fulfillment, satisfaction, love etc in that area of life?”

Another way to reflect on the year is to use Galen Pearl’s 10-step happiness template.  Although you may not have been following the process throughout the year, Galen’s personal reflections illustrate the model perfectly.  Instead of going month-by-month, you can use the key concepts as a way to frame your reflections for the entire year.

Looking at life from the angle of change and relationships through the lens of clarity and wisdom, Manal invites us to find closure, let go of what’s holding us in the past, and open to new beginnings.

“When you accept, you put yourself in the driver seat and steer your life towards closure.

You choose to close this chapter. What was is over—regardless of why and how…

And the best part about closure is that it’s always up to you. No one can take it away from you. When you decide to let go and move on, no one can stop you—other than you.”

Zeenat offers eminently practical tips for clearing out on a physical level in order to start the new year on a fresh note as well as encouraging us to engage in introspection.

“Take these last few days of the year to bring harmony and balance in your living and working environment. Walk around your personal spaces and sense what’s working and what’s not. Open the drawers, step in the garage, look into all the nooks, crannies, and dark spaces.”

In addition to using one or more of these methods, you could complement your writing by creating a collage, painting a picture, or assembling a collection of memorable photos. Or simply picture 2011 in one of these ways as a reflection on its own and forget the words!

This has been a challenging and powerful year for me.  This morning, I found myself vigorously extracting key lessons from my journal and contemplating how to carry them forward.  I know this is just the beginning of my process.  As such, I’m grateful for the additional insights and prompts offered by these six remarkable and caring individuals.

Whatever method you choose, I hope it will be a meaningful process for you.  Letting go of the past and bringing life lessons forward is a terrific way to springboard into the future.

How are you reflecting on 2011?  Do you have any key lessons to share with us?

You might also like:  One Powerful Word 2012:  A Simple Approach to New Year’s Resolutions

If you liked this article, please consider sharing the link on your social networks.  And, I would love to connect with you on Google+ or the Always Well Within Facebook Page   With love, Sandra


One Powerful Word 2012: A Simple Approach to New Year’s Resolutions


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  1. Oh I so enjoyed reading this post and have book marked it so I can come back and read each referral – I read several of the blogs now, but can see there are some good ones I am missing 🙂

    I am working on enjoying life moment to moment to end this year, which has been an exceptionally difficult one for me. I find I am so caught up in the future and planning and making changes that I often do not enjoy the here/hear and now/present

    I have decided to take the last two weeks of this year to just practice being in this moment and particularly enjoy the 4 days that my family will be here to celebrate. My biggest future planning is my Wednesday trip to the grocery store and I got a group pedicure appointment for the girls.

    I think I will come back to this post and work through it for my New Year’s exercise –
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Patricia,

      Being in the moment is a challenging for all of us, isn’t it! But the payoff is big. I’m inspired to see that you’ll be spending the last two weeks of the years with the exercise. It takes practice, but like any habit it can be changed with time. I wish you all the best with your aspiration.

      I’m glad this post has intrigued you! I hope you enjoy each of the articles as much as I did.

      Wishing you the most enjoyable holiday season.

  2. So glad I could contribute Sandra and I appreciate you sharing it forward 🙂 Great roll up of 2011 and it’s many lessons.

    Wishing you the very best holiday and Merry Christmas!

  3. This is a wonderful post, I love it! I found this on Patricia’s facebook page, so thank you Patricia for sharing! I really want to spend some time reflecting on all the things I’ve learned this year. 2011 was a big year for me, life-changing even, so I’m thinking I might even want to use the whole year of 2012 sharing what I learned on my blog so I can help others overcome the struggles that are limiting their life too. I was constantly setting goals this year and it’ll be nice to have some time to look back at it all and appreciate the journey I’ve had and all I’ve learned. Great post, I have bookmarked it as well and will check out the other links you recommended!

    • Hi Brittany,

      I think your shyness project is fantastic. I’m sure you will help many others by sharing what you’ve learned in 2011 next year on your blog. I support you in taking the time to look back and review your journey. Thanks for your enthusiastic comment!

      • Thank you Sandra! I looked through all the sites you mentioned and used them and your your post to help me figure out how I want to reflect on the year for the next few days especially. Once I reflect I’ll be able to make sure I remember those lessons myself and then I’ll be able to remind/tell others of them too. I’ll still have things I’d like to focus on improving in 2012, but I’m not going to be as rigorous about it like I was this year. Thanks for your reply!

  4. Definitely planning on delving further into these posts, thanks for sharing. 2011 has been a challenging year for me in many ways, and what I’ve learned from it is to be so, so grateful for those challenges because they took me places I never would have gone without them.

  5. Thanks so much for including me on this list. I’m going to try some of the others. I was especially intrigued by the ambitious life reflection–maybe a good project for me up at the cabin. And also the ending the year on a positive note tips. Thanks for putting all this together.

  6. You’re welcome! Wishing you a nourishing time at the cabin.

  7. Zeenat Syal’s 5 steps strikes me as an excellent way to spend the last few days of this year. My wife and I go over our budget and plans for home improvements and vacations on New Year’s Eve. If I start the 5 steps a few days before that it should work out perfectly.

  8. That’s terrific, Bob. I really loved her ideas on clearing out the physical clutter. We’ll be working in sync.

  9. Sandra this post is a brilliant instruction book on rounding out a years end, contemplating and preparing for the new chapter of this new year. Such wonderful posts all in one.
    Thank you for including mine, I’m glad it resonated with you.

    The end of the year can be such a great time to put things into perspective, get clear and set a fresh new intention. I really like your idea of having a word for 2012. It’s a focused intention. 🙂

    • Hi Aileen,

      Your post resonated for me so strongly. The idea of going all the way back can be a very useful one! It’s a great time for reinvention and you are leading the way. Lots of love to you.

  10. i like especially “closure” – i’ve been struggling with burntout, stress and major depression from the last 2 years, leading me to end my corporate job. i’m still bitter sometimes, but through my writing i’ve come to terms with a lot of things from the past, not just job, but relationships, mentality, outlooks… it’s time for closure, and to move on
    Noch Noch

    • Noch Nock,

      I think there’s something in this round-up for everyone and I so happy you found the piece and angle that is so fitting for you. I’ve had my own struggles in the last year, and Manal’s article on closure really spoke to me strongly. I’m happy to moving on alongside you.

  11. What a wonderful collection of resources for us. I have read most of these articles. I’m going to check out the ones I’m not familiar with.
    Happy Holidays to you.


  12. Another resourceful post Sandra. I’m glad the article about closure resonated with you. I hope other readers will find some of it helpful. I have read Zeenat’s article and motivated me to clear up a few things before year end. I’m going to read the others and I’m sure I’ll find a lot of things to work with. Thanks for sharing and continuing to be a valuable and essential part of this wonderful blogging community.

    • Manal,

      Because I too am going through a process of loss and grief, the idea of closure was a very strong one for me. The point you made about how things always change, it doesn’t matter why or how, really hit home. It’s easy to get stuck on the why, but it doesn’t really help. I’m so happy to know you and value your clear thinking and wise and compassionate writing.

      • Dearest Sandra,
        I hope you find the strength to cope and move forward after the loss. We do tend to get stuck on the why and it’s wonderful that you are aware of this and making a conscious choice to let go.
        This is a great time for all of us to heal and close the chapter welcoming a new one with open hearts. Much love …

  13. Hello Sandra,
    Thanks for this excellent resource. Zeenat’s article has inspired me and I’m sure the others will also.

    P.S. I love the blog changes. 🙂

  14. timethief,

    You’re welcome! Glad you like the theme changes. This version of twenty eleven is similar to manifest, but it has a few additional features that make it more suitable for me at the moment. I love the changes you’ve made to yours as well. You have such a creative flair, there’s always a beauty in your presentation.

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