Happy first of the month, folks! I love the start of a new month, it feels so full of possibility; like when you start a new notebook and get so excited about all the stuff you can use it for. Just me? Ok then....
I wanted to write about my re-set ritual I have every 6 months, sort of a biannual review process where I check in with myself, review how the previous 6 months have gone, and set some goals for the latter half of the year. I've been doing an annual review at the start of every year for ages now, and I love it. I sit down on the first January and write answers to a whole bunch of questions designed to help me reflect on the previous 12 months, and plan what I want the next year to look like. For the past few years I've been using these questions, which go pretty in depth, but you can be flexible depending on how much you want to get out of it. As a natural navel-gazer, I enjoy going deep, but it's not going to be for everybody!
The 6-month review is not as in-depth, more of a re-set button to help me focus on what I've achieved so far, and what I need to do in order to feel I've made the most out of my year. I make sure I schedule some time to complete my 6-month review, but honestly I'm such a nerd that I can happily spend a whole weekend reflecting and setting goals.
I wanted to share some of the things that this 6-month review has taught me. A lot of these ideas were already swirling around in my head, but its helped crystallise things by writing them down.
So without further ado, here are the three lessons the past 6 months has taught me:
Reflecting on the past 12 months made me feel incredibly grateful; for the people I have around me, for my freedom, for the comfortable life that I have. But, more importantly, I've come to realise what a vital part of my life gratitude itself is. I've learnt that I need to have some kind of daily gratitude practise, where I check in and remind myself how bloody lucky I am. Usually, that's not an issue for me - I feel like I spend my life banging on about how amazing Sydney is and how lucky I am - but it helps to record these thoughts as they occur to me. One of my favourite things that I use my bullet journal for is a monthly 'highlights' page, which is really just a double-page gratitude list. I jot down anything that comes to mind, big or small, meaninful or trite, and I've found it such a valuable exercise. It keeps me mindful, and also gives the added benefit of making me feel good when I read back over previous months - a double dose of gratitude!
In the past I've not had a particularly healthy approach to health (pun intended). Health to me always meant losing weight, nothing more. As I'm getting older I'm learning that it's so much more than this, and certainly in the past 6 months I feel I've learnt more about mental health, and how important that is to look after my mind as well as my body. I started this year suffering really quite badly from anxiety, and have had spells of depressive phases on and off for years. I'm loathe to label myself a depressive, as I don't thing I am; it's (thank god) never lasted long enough or felt serious enough to call it depression - but there have certainly been periods where I've felt unable to get out of bed and lost all joy for the things I usually love to do. Things came to a head at the beginning of this year, and I sought help through work's EAP provider who signed me up with a CBT counsellor. Counselling has been amazing; and even though it's only been a few months, I feel so much better simply for taking action. I want to write more about this in a future blog post, but needless to say, taking a holistic view of health, and working on my mental health as well as physical health, has been life-changing and something I know I'll look back on at the end of this year and be able to pat myself on that back for.
I had this realisation about an hour ago, and felt it was too important not to write down! Confidence isn't something that is attained. It isn't something that I'll get bestowed upon me; it won't be gifted to me; it isn't something I'm going to get if I just wish hard enough or work hard enough for it. It isn't something new that is going to come into my life. Confidence isn't an addition; it's a subtraction. It's a taking away - of expectations, of 'shoulds', of mental chatter, of my inner critic, of judgement. It's a stripping away of all these things that will result in me having a place of quiet confidence in my mind. This realisation comforts me. It takes away the grasping nature of trying to reach some fictitious state of utter confidence. Instead, I just need to remind myself that as long as I regularly practise sitting, breathing, and focusing my mind, I will find my place of quiet confidence that was within me all along.