Since connecting with Chris Guillebeau of the Art of Non-Conformity a few years ago, I have taken up his practice of doing an Annual Review. I take the time between Christmas and New Year to meditate and reflect on the past year to see what I would like to tweak, change or eliminate or create for the coming year. I now have annual reviews from the past six years since 2011 when I launched The Global Yogi.
What I have changed since the early days of my annual reviews is I take a more yin, or feminine approach to the whole process. Instead of focusing on concrete goals (write that book, make that album) I place the focus on how I want to be feeling both within myself and within my relationships with others (which is a reflection of how you feel about yourself).
I find this softer approach to the process of the annual review works better for me. It doesn’t invite self-judgement as easily as the more goal focused approach, where, if you haven’t reached said goal, even for a few years, then you can feel like a failure, which is never useful.
I figure that if I keep the focus on my inner life, on how I am feeling and how I am relating to myself, then the outer manifestations (what I am doing, what I am producing) will take care of themselves. It’s an inside out approach.
Like the Dalai Lama, I believe the ultimate ‘goal’ of human life is happiness. We are all here to be happy, to enjoy our lives, and to find fulfilment in the way that only we know how. So in my annual review process, I often look back on the year and ask myself when were the times that I felt the most happy this year?
This particular year there have been plenty. As well as lots of yoga (I can now do a whole new variety of headstands and am getting close to a freestanding handstand), it was full of travel and adventures for me, which are some of my favourite things.
After a very intense bout of chronic asthma during the wet season in Bali earlier in the year, I realised I needed to get out, and I opted to head for Italy, where I was lucky enough to spend one of the best weeks of my life thus far at the beautiful Yoga in Salento retreat. Following this I spent about six weeks enjoying the day-and-night-long-party that is summer in the ancient medieval town of Siracusa, which actually occupies a tiny island of about 1 km square (yes, it’s cosy!). On leaving Siracusa I went on a rollercoaster ride through Eastern Europe investigating my relationship with money, before arriving safely via Blah Blah car on a mountaintop in Romania, where I spent another amazing week in one of the most picturesque and nostalgically beautiful regions of the world, where farmers still drive in horse and cart to the market (yes, really!).
It has been an adventure filled year. Though I have had my challenges, I find that I am living life on my own terms and following my heart. This is my way to happiness.
Self-Love, Self-Love, Self-Love
And, as I have been talking about a bit this year, at the root of this is a practice of self-love. And I am happy to see that many of my feeling state wishes (around boundaries, connection, self-honouring, self-care) for this year have manifested.
I still have challenges in the area of money, but these have been lightened by the findings of my inadvertent experiment, and I am happily tracking all of my incomings and outgoings and delving deeper and deeper into discovering further blocks to my abundance that may be hidden in my subconscious (that mysterious control centre from which your life is directed but to which if you want to peak in at, you need to find a portal – a bit like Alice when she goes through the looking glass or the children from ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ who discover a door between dimensions at the back of their closet.).
This year I am also following another of my online writer heroes, Havi Brooks, of The Fluent Self who gives each month a word for the upcoming year.
My word for the whole of 2017 is EXPRESS.
And here are my words for each month.
- JANUARY: Seed
- FEBRUARY: Flow
- MARCH: Ignite
- APRIL: Relish
- MAY: Receive
- JUNE: Release
- JULY: Associate
- AUGUST: Illuminate
- SEPTEMBER: Eradicate
- OCTOBER: Solidity
- NOVEMBER: Harmony
- DECEMBER: Alchemy
If you would like to do a Feeling-based Annual Review like the one I do, then follow these steps.
- Summary: sum up generally how the year has panned out for you based on how you were feeling throughout, and how in tune with yourself and with your heart’s desires you were.
- Areas of Life: Relationships, Creativity, Work, Intimacy, Play. Investigate how you experienced all these areas in your life this year. Write free flow and see what comes out for you. Identify areas where you would like to feel differently next year and see what underlying beliefs may need changing. Check the Theta healer interview with Erika Johansson for more details on how to do this).
- Write your wish list: This can include desired feeling states as well as anything else you’d like to bring into your life. This might include something like:
- I wish for consistent opening to my creative energy in whatever form it wants to manifest.
- I wish to be less and less concerned with finding a partner and more and more concerned with connecting to myself and my true needs and desires.
- I wish for my yoga practice to feel more and more like a moving meditation; honouring life and feeling deeply all that there is to be felt in my body.
- Assign a word (may be a feeling state, may be a verb, and adjective, a noun, whatever feels write) to each of the months in 2017. It is then fun to look back and match your experience in that particular month to the feeling state.
I would love to hear how this resonates with you in the comments if you feel inclined to share.