It’s the time of year when many of us conduct annual rituals that may include everything from strategic planning sessions for business to making New Year’s resolutions or setting Bold Goals for 2010 and beyond. We’ve found any such process to be much harder to do when we haven’t completed and let go of the past. It's very difficult, (impossible?), to really move forward when we are carting the past along with us. The process of letting go can include changing your attitude and perceptions about what the economy did to you, to digging very deep and letting go of some of the childhood stuff that shapes your life. On the fun end of the spectrum, we have for many years put flip chart paper all over our walls when we have a New Year’s Eve party with a simple question on each, such as “What did I start and not complete?” or “What did I accomplish that I haven’t been acknowledged for?” or “What did I screw up that I didn’t get caught for?” Guests write on the charts all evening with colored markers and sometimes get even more creative with a touch of artistic display as well. On a number of occasions we have taken them all down at midnight and symbolically burned them.
On a business note, we just completed a week of group meetings with our executive clients where we passed out an exercise with questions for them to fill out and discuss that explored accomplishments and failures in their businesses, practice of leadership, and lives. One of my favorites is “What must I communicate to be complete with 2009 and to whom?”
A few of the highlights from the executive discussions included discoveries of attachments participants did not realize were holding them back, people around them who they had failed to acknowledge, and places where they were not leading by example. For a couple of clients who have transitioned into the next phase of life after full-time CEO work, they discovered that there is not much useful and generally accepted language in our culture to describe someone who is no longer working full-time and yet intends to offer a contribution. This opened up an exploration of advisor, teacher, mentor, sage, and wisdom roles.
We also were reminded that for many folks the holidays can include a lot of upset, ranging form anxiety around gift giving and office party attendance to remembrances of lost loved ones or unhappy childhood experiences related to the holidays. The latter is fertile ground for completion work, of course.
One of the participants in our completion work summed up the experience of working with the exercise as “transition/transformation is a lot of work!” If you are intending to be powerful in 2010, have big goals, and produce great results, we highly recommend you spend the next couple of weeks completing and letting go of 2009, (and earlier if you need to), in order to create fertile ground for your 2010 vision to come alive.
If you would like to try our exercise format we have included it here as a free download.
Wishing you a happy ending to your 2009 and a fabulous 2010!