Year-End Review of “Engage”

My 2011 word of the year was “engage.” You can see the other posts about it here and here. Today is a year-end review of “engage.”

Looking back, the funny thing about my 2011 word of the year being “engage” is that I learned the most from where I wasn’t engaged or when I stopped being engaged. My coach says “who you’re being anywhere is who you’re being everywhere.” And it’s certainly true.

Many of my strategies for being engaged revolved around setting intentions and goals. And that’s a great way to tackle being engaged (or any goal). I apparently am very tied to how I see things going. Meaning – when I set intentions or goals I have a very clear idea how I see them working out. Which is ok and probably to be expected. However, when things don’t work out quite the way I thought they would I’d disengage.

Yep, instead of re-evaluating the situation I’d throw my hands up and say “well that didn’t work. I guess I should try something entirely different.” And set a new intention or goal without really reviewing why things didn’t go the way I expected or thinking about what could be slightly tweaked or changed to allow it to still work – or work next time. Apparently I was an all or nothing type girl this year.

I’ve struggled this year with things not going the way I expected and beat myself up over it quite thoroughly. Negative self-talk – ohh, I had a lot of that this year. High expectations with little wiggle room with how to reach those goals, yep, got that too! Do you see the problem? I didn’t for quite a while and when you add high expectations with no flexibility and negative self-talk you end up with a lot of beating yourself up!

The past month has been the best and worst month this year – and I type that with a smile on my face. I looked back at the year and saw the patterns – beat myself up about it and then forgave myself. That last part can be the hardest part to do – forgiving yourself – and it’s the most important. It lead to me to letting go of a seemly small and insignificant obligation that I’d been thinking about letting go of for months. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it because of what I perceived as other people’s expectations of me. Letting go of that one obligation seems small, but was huge. I was actually putting myself first and letting go of expectations (mine and others).

That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned this year is that I don’t know what the future will hold and despite my best efforts, I can’t plan it into exactly what I want it to be. So, maybe I can enjoy the ride a bit more. And enjoying the ride means letting go of how I think things should go and enjoying them as they are.

This doesn’t mean I’m not going to set goals, intentions or make changes. It does mean that if those goals, intentions or changes don’t have the exact end result I anticipate then I’ll spend less time being disappointed and upset about it and more time enjoying the unanticipated outcome.

Part of the process this month was done with my coach (the friendly different perspective and prompting was invaluable) and resulted in me writing about what happens now after all the self evaluation, disappointment, anger and (of course) forgiveness. I’ll end today with the last line of the page I wrote:

I don’t know exactly what the future will hold or exactly the path I will take to reach my goals – and that’s ok – the path will unfold as I go and I can stop and look around and enjoy it a bit more.