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What are your roles in life?

When we are doing the end of year reflections and setting goals for the new year, it is easy to focus on one or two areas of life which we may be preoccupied with at the moment while ignoring others.

Living our best self requires us to pay attention to all aspects of our lives, even areas which may not immediately come to mind.

The first step in thinking this way is to define the 'domains' of our life. Another way look at it is to consider our various roles in life at present, at home, at work, in our communities and in the world at large.

For example, here are some 'domains' which may be applicable to you:

The health domain
The spiritual domain
The work domain
The business domain
The marriage domain
The parenting domain
The volunteering domain
The community service domain
The domain of family relationships/family of origin, extended family
The domain of friendships
The home organization domain
The domain of self growth and actualization

Do you get the picture?

So start making a list of the...

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What needs to be cleaned up?

As we continue with end of year reflections, let us tackle some more challenging questions:

What are some goals that you did not meet?
Commitments you did not end up keeping to yourself?
Commitments that you did not end up keeping to others?
People that you need to apologize to? (hard one, this!)

The end of year is an excellent time to review what did not end up happening this year. Declare it not done, and either recommit or let it go.

It is not a good idea to ignore it or carry it forward to next year because it is sapping your unconscious energy.

A fresh start requires that we are intentional about endings as well.

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What were your wins this year?

It is very useful to begin the process of reflection by acknowledging what went well. Research suggests that when we pause for a moment to reflect on what we are already doing well, it encourages and motivates us to tackle the less-than-easy stuff on our task and project list.

Here are some questions to get you going:

1) What are my 3 biggest successes for this year?
2) The next 3?
3) What are the small successes that were the most challenging for me?
4) What is a smart decision that I made this year?
5) What are 3 ways that I have grown this year? (have I become fitter, more patient, begun to speak up . . .?)

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The one thing you must do before setting goals for next year

If you are anything like me, about this time every year, you ask yourself the same question: where did the year go?

Some of us get into a mad dash at the end of the year, trying to accomplish everything that we meant to do this year. Others are already thinking ahead to January and planning what goals they want to set for next year.

In order to start the year 2017 off well, there is a very important step we need to take right now.

Taking stock of this year as it ends.

Writing an end of year reflection is an excellent way to acknowledge your successes and wins and start considering where and how you might do better next year.

Begin by setting aside some time in your calendar over the next week to complete your end of year reflection. We will start going through some questions to help us with this starting tomorrow.

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Check your assumptions!

Human beings are meaning making machines. We often take 2 + 2 and make it 22, filling in all the missing numbers in our head.

Making assumptions, or mindreading as it is also called, is not always a problem. When I am grocery shopping for example, I will often pick up things that I assume my family will like.

Other times, however, when we make assumptions about what someone is thinking, why they are doing what they are doing or what they are thinking, we need to remind ourselves that it is very possible that our assumptions are wrong.

The only way to know for sure if our assumptions about someones behaviour or thinking is to check them out.

How? Just ask!

"why did you . . ."
"why didn't you . . ."
"am I right in thinking that . . ."
"would love to know your thoughts"
"how do you see this"
"am I right in thinking . . ."
"help me understand . . ."

This week just begin to notice how many times you are assuming what is the motive behind someone's action. And then check your assumptions. You...

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How is project "Self Development" going?

I love projects. I love the fact that a project has a clear beginning and an end, with a feeling of achievement once it is completed.

For much of my life, I saw various aspects of self development as a project. Once I had achieved these projects, I told myself, I could put a check mark against them. Done! And then move onto other projects.

Here are some examples of my self development projects:

1) Become more patient
2) Become more positive
3) Be less angry
4) Forgive more
5) Be less resentful

It did not, however, work out as I had envisioned. NOT. AT. ALL.

What I noticed what that there were days when I was really positive and patient and then other days, not so much! But this is not how a project is supposed to work is it? Once you have completed a project, it is not supposed to be undone, is it??

It took quite a bit of awakening to realise that working on oneself is not a project. I begun to recognize that all aspects of self development are actually practices.

On days when I...

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Can you?

Do you ever question yourself about what is possible for you to do?

Leadership and personal growth guru John Maxwell writes in his book, "The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth", that how you ask yourself the question about your abilities greatly determines whether or not you will achieve something.

This is how he says it:

"At first glance, the questions Can I? and How can I? may appear to be very similar. However, the reality is that they are worlds apart in terms of results. Can I? is a question filled with hesitation and doubt. It is a question that imposes limitations. If that is the question you regularly ask yourself, you're undermining your efforts before you even begin. How many people could have accomplished much in life but failed to try because they doubted and answered no to the question 'Can I?'

When you ask yourself, 'How can I?' you give yourself a fighting chance to achieve something. The most common reason people don't overcome the odds is that they don't challenge them...

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Your human tool box

Once your pause button is activated, it is time to delve into your human tool box and see which of the following tools you can use to respond rather than react:

Willpower: this is the ability to stop yourself. Sometimes we tell ourselves we 'cannot' stop ourselves. Not true. We all have willpower and can strengthen it with practice.

Conscience: we have an inbuilt GPS system that guides us regarding our deepest values. It does this by making us feel good when we act in accordance with our values and nags us when we go against them.

Imagination: we have the ability to imagine ourselves doing something other than what we habitually do. Imagination is a powerful ally in helping us move in the direction that we want.
Imagination also allows us to predict the future outcome of our present actions.

So how sharp are your tools?

Which will you use today to help you respond rather than react?

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Your internal pause button

A powerful way to practice pausing is to intentionally activate your internal pause button.

As human beings we have the ability to stop ourselves before reacting by 'pressing our pause button'.

People use various ways to activate their pause button:

- By imagining reaching for a remote control and pressing pause
- By imagining that there is a pause button on some part of your body and pressing it with your hand to remind yourself to pause rather than react
- By imagining that you are slowing or freezing time

When learning to pause, it is an excellent idea to be intentional about creating and activating your own personal pause button. The more concrete it is in your mind, the easier it is to activate when you need it.

So go ahead.

Where is your pause button? Practice using it in conversation and in your daily interactions. Even when you think you don't need to.

The more you practice when you are not really triggered, the easier it will be to use when you do need it.

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Learning to pause

If we can pause for just a moment and respond with intention rather than through automatic reaction, our lives would be quite different, don't you think?

Learning to pause takes some practice – the more habituated we become to reacting, the easier and more automatic the reaction is and the greater the need to interrupt this pattern.

The first step in learning to pause is to recognize the trigger/s that cause us to react.

Recognizing the trigger means to tune into bodily sensations that signal stress or upset. These signals are always present moments before we react. They are present in the form of 'knots in the stomach', clenched fists, tight muscles, a headache, fluttering in the heart or stomach, perspiration or some other sensation.

It takes practice to connect these bodily signals to what is happening outside of us and recognize them as a warning sign that we are about to (over) react.

Here is an example:

The phone rings, and it is your mother/mother in law. There is a...

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