For the last four years Jim and I have taken ourselves off for a few days over New Year. Time spent reflecting on the last 12 months and projecting for the next 12. Long gone are the days of midnight celebrations and booze infused jubilations.
This year we went away a little early. With a new addition due to arrive in December we thought New Year would be an unknown so we decided to get away before the usual time. This annual trip has become a tradition for us. An important time to be away from home and away from distractions. We spend quiet time with ourselves and with each other.
Raise, Reflect & Project
This year we headed to a worn out bungalow in South Devon. We chose it for the log burner and the expansive views of the coast. The scenery didn’t disappoint. Hours were spent listening to the waves and watching white horses roll into the bay. We saw storms come and go and watched birds float up and down thermals.
Previously we’ve called this trip our Reflect & Project Retreat. With a little person on the way and a huge change on the horizon we wanted to consider this transition “raising a kid is going to be an experience, so let’s talk about that too”.
We changed the name of our trip to Raise, Reflect and Project.
It’s not a surprise that my work in branding and Jim’s work as a coach spills over into our personal lives. The enjoyment that came from naming this experience and setting the tone, adds to the depth and meaning of the trip. Something I’d probably turn my nose up at a few years ago but knowing how influential it can be has made a real difference. Naming provides a structure…this is why we are here…this is how we want to spend this time…this is what’s important to us.
The turn of December into January is a natural change in energy. Wiping the slate clean and setting intentions for the next 12 months. A far cry from the fuzzy hangover head of my youth. Would I recognise myself? I hope not!
This year we adjusted timings. It didn't matter. We’ve both learned from the past 4 years and know what we want to get from this time.The ebb and flow of activity and quiet creates the opportunity to explore topics and dissect our thoughts, no matter what time of year it is. And that remained the intention.
Other than three topics of conversation - raising a family, reflecting on the past and projecting for the future - there is no set outcome. Previously we’d be setting goals and placing concrete metrics on future projects, approaching this time with masculine energy and outcomes. One of our biggest learnings from these trips is that a lot changes over 12 months and well-meaning goals in January don’t necessarily serve us across the whole year. Now we take a more flexible approach, pinpointing concepts and areas of focus rather than the hard and fast goals associated with New Year.
Whilst talking about these topics and looking out across the sea, noticing the changing tide, we let the conversation take twists and turns from the past and into the future, touching on areas that only time allows us to explore. Conversations that don’t happen at home with washing to do and work to distract us. Time allows our thoughts to percolate and marinade. We come back to phrases and pull apart ideas.
Personally I like to simplify things. Gone are the days where I think I can do everything and accomplish huge heights in one year. I’m a believer in the compound effect, big gestures don’t usually work for me.
For projection I usually have three areas of focus, this could be related to the energy I want to attach to certain things: relationships, career, health, lifestyle, family, finances, any number of areas that require energy. I don’t set goals, deciding to write intentions instead.
In reflection I review journal entries from the last 12 months and think about what went well and what didn’t, how I felt in those moments and what I’ve learned from that time. I look at last years intentions and pull apart the reasons why things didn’t go to plan. Look at what did go to plan and why.
It’s organic, undulating, it’s heartwarming and humbling. We talk through all of these things and come home with a blend of clarity and questions still up in the air for attention at a later date.
Finally we both identify a word of the year that will help guide us over the next 12 months. A word that ties everything together and acts as a common thread for all our projections. A word that defines an energy that we will take into the new year.
It feels good to focus on things that help clarify and add meaning to our lives. It feels good to address things that didn’t go well in the previous 12 months. And it feels good to wipe the slate clean and be ready for the next chapter.
We’ve come to learn over time that sharing our aspirations, ambitions, lessons and let downs, is a transparent and humbling conversation. It brings us closer together. A corner stone of our relationship making us ready for the next 52 weeks of inevitable ups and downs.
“When I don’t prioritise time to listen to myself, I don’t have the capacity to listen deeply to others.”
- Melissa from my meditation circle. October 2022
Bigbury on Sea. South Devon.