Margaret Marcuson: Celebrate last year (you heard that right!) before you launch into this one

2020 was a year like no other, for most of us. There have been endless retrospectives on the challenges the world, the United States, schools, the medical community, churches and families have faced this year.

I recommend you consider another question: What went right last year? What can you celebrate? Stop right now, or set some time this week to reflect. Write it down, ideally by hand. (Handwriting helps your brain make more connections from what you’re writing).

  • What went right at church?
  • What went right in your wider community?
  • What went right in your personal relationships?
  • What went right for you spiritually?
  • What went right for your health?
  • What did you learn?
  • What did you read?
  • What new things did you try?
  • Add your own question…

Make as long a list as you can.

Then stop a moment. Celebrate and give thanks for all of these wonderful things in your life. I’ve got a long list, including the opportunity to work with clergy around the U.S. and Canada through these unprecedented days, virtual connections with family, my public library (especially library e-book!), and a Zoom baking group I joined in April.

Dave Ellis, who taught me to do this process annually, suggests looking back over your calendar and even through your pictures to remind yourselves of the many things you have forgotten about your year.

He also suggests you look back and consider the things that didn’t go so well this year, the disappointments, failures, and struggles. Now, take a few minutes and write that list. Just take a moment and sit with this second list.

Then look at it and reflect: is there something you can be grateful for in each of those challenges? What did you learn, how did you grow, what was the benefit? Write it down. It may be hard to see in some cases. However, I’ve found the more I practice this the easier it gets. You can even do it daily to reflect on the everyday struggles, big and small.

So, go back and review your first list of celebrations, and the list you made of gratitudes for your struggles. Sit with those lists. Give thanks.

Now you’re ready to start 2021.

Click here to get six ways to lead less anxiously and sustain yourself through these days.