Year end 'baggage management' - what to pack and what to leave
The end of the calendar year is a good time to reflect on the past and plan the future. You might have had some changes sprung upon you. You might just have left something or somebody, or been left yourself. Or, you are about to start something new - a new job, moving into a new house, starting that business you always dreamed of. You might be elated about what is coming or have very mixed feelings.
Change, well, changes things. This can be hard (even when it is for the better). Often, the little things can be hard; they keep hitting home when we least expect it. Whatever the change, at some point we need to find it in us to move forward, even when the path isn’t clear.
Change can also be joyful, exciting, full of anticipation to leave the sordid past behind and ride off into the sunset, and we just can’t wait to close the door on the past and not be reminded anymore how awful it has been.
Whatever your change, the following things can be useful to 'sort out the baggage'. They can be done in multiple steps as you find the time, and you can go back and revisit them as needed or as they start feeling meaningful.
What to leave behind
There might be things we don’t want to keep dragging around with us. Make a list. What is it you don’t want to take along anymore? Flesh it out; draw it. Nothing is too mundane to put on that list. The socks in front of the sofa? On the list. The leaky smelly fridge in the staff room of your old job? On the list. The snotty now-ex colleague? On the list. The approval process that did your head in? On the list. The wafting frying smell from your neighbours? On the list. How small and insignificant X made you feel? On the list. The lack of recognition? On the list. You get it. Fill that list.
Take a look at the list and take some deep breaths. Start crossing things off as you let them go. Rituals can help with that. Professional help (psychological, legal, coaching, etc) can also be advised and can make a difference fast, depending on the size of the challenges you were facing. For more day-to-day topics, some people find it helpful to rip up the sheet into a million pieces or to set it on fire. Symbolically throw the past into the nearest river (like scrunching up some leaves and symbolically infusing them). Whatever is meaningful to you (and available as you are doing this); do this safely and don’t litter.
There is also a physical clear-out that can come with it, and there are plenty of ways to go about it that you can find online if you need a method. Donate what is useful (charity shops also do pick-ups and you are supporting a good cause). Sell what is sellable, but set a time limit when it needs to be gone and then donate it. Don’t make this another thing to fret over - you are decluttering, not looking for another part-time job.
Maybe this is also the time to look after yourself more. Get a facial and a massage. See that nutritionist. Do that session with the PT to get a program you enjoy following. Have your teeth cleaned. Do all the medical things you have been putting off, and be honest where you need help. Tackle your relationship with alcohol. Give yourself a thorough check-up. Your body is your biggest ally and might need some extra love.
Other things that might be on the list include;
- catching up on your paperwork
- reconsolidating that debt
- paying off that credit card in earnest this time
- starting that pension
- switching that portfolio to a more sustainable investment strategy
- clearing out that mess that you’ve been avoiding so you can move forward; this might involve uncomfortable phone calls - do them and then move on
What to bring along (and how to share the love)
We learn and grow through our experiences, and that adds richness and depth, and, let’s face it, some of the mess we left behind makes a very fine story indeed a few years later with a bit of distance.
As you are moving on, like with physical decluttering, this is also about what to keep.
What went well? What did you learn? How did you grow? What are all the things you have discovered, about humans, your work, yourself, and the world? Who did you meet? What is the space that you found, the community? What were the high points? How did it make you feel? Go into this. Flesh it out. Illustrate, pick pictures to illustrate it, revel in the joy and the successes. Find a way to remind you when you are likely going to need it, e.g. a background picture on your computer, a little memento on your desk if you have a fixed one, a fancy watch strap. Reward yourself (but don’t get into debt for it).
Ride that high. Throw a party and celebrate with others that stood by you. As you are revelling in your awesomeness, this is also a good time to update your CV, LinkedIn, and social media with that newly appreciated glory and your awesomeness. Also, find a way to share the love. Do some pro-bono work, mentor somebody, volunteer or support a cause that links to your story. Pay it forward, and thank those that helped you along the way. Call them, treat them for lunch, or send them a thank you card.
Share the love. It keeps us all going.
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