Reality Check: How Did It Go?

It’s common practice to take stock at the end of the year. How did the past year pan out for you? Do you see that you’ve made progress since the year began? Or does it feel like you’re sliding backward, away from the direction you want to go? Was it a boom or a bust?
I suspect that many of us will come up with a mixed review. Some things got better, others worse. Keep in mind that it’s easy to get a skewed perception because we are so influenced by recent events. If we had even a minor setback yesterday, that could overshadow a major positive event of last January. But overall, how did it go?
You might find it useful to try a structured process when you’re thinking about your year. One structure that I often find helpful is based on the five basic needs of Choice Theory.
First among those needs is our need for love & belonging. How are your relationships? Do you have the kind of connections with people that you want to have? The key here is “that you want.” Some people want a lot of connection; they like to be out and about actively engaging with people. Others don’t; they prefer a limited amount of interaction and enjoy their alone-time.
You’re doing this assessment for your own purposes, so you may as well be honest with yourself. If you feel that your life has a backdrop of loneliness, then you might want to think about how to have more connection. Similarly, if you see that you have a lot of unsatisfying interactions, you might ask yourself whether that is a good use of your time. Your time is your life, after all, so if your life is captured by unsatisfying activities, now is as good a time as any to consider a change.
Another basic need is the one for power, which I suggest is the need to feel worthwhile, recognized, significant. We could satisfy it through accomplishment, by persisting through difficulty, by developing skills, by helping someone out. What’s your perception? Do you perceive that you have gained power/recognition/significance over the year? Or do you have the sense that you’ve lost some?
The need for freedom is also one of our basic needs, and again, different people perceive it, and satisfy it, in different ways. Some have a renewed sense of freedom through the ability to travel and have new experiences. Some who have changed work situations may find themselves with more “free” time, which can translate to a greater feeling of freedom. The freedom to arrange your life as you see fit, to associate with people you enjoy, is necessary to our overall satisfaction.
Fun, a need that we might think of as non-essential, is still a basic need. As grown-ups, we may dismiss the need for fun, or see it as something we will do later when there is time and money. But fun is serious business, and it’s worth taking a serious look at how you fulfill your need for fun.
Finally there’s the need for survival/security, a fundamental need indeed. Is your situation more secure, or less secure, than it was at the beginning of the year?
Assessments are useful because they can focus our attention on what matters to us. When we figure out for ourselves what is and is not working well, it can help us decide what to focus on.
So, how was your year?

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