Don’t Look Back In Anger

At the start of the year most people find it more seductive to look forward to the incoming New Year. But when we do this we often miss out on important data and information that can be found and located in acknowledging and accounting failures accumulated in the outgoing year.
Failures happen to everyone. During the course of 2015 I found myself on the receiving end of a takeover on a board I had served on for several years. For years I had been pleading with the other board members to sort out our governance and to desperately fund training for what I could see was an ill equipped team. It took the arrival of a new board member who clandestinely formed divisive alliances with two of the existing board members and then spearheaded a take over in which my services and contribution were considered no longer needed.
I wasn’t surprised at all. I had a gut feeling for several months about our new member tempered with a previous experience of using their services before in another capacity. However I choose to ignore and not act on the warning signals that I clearly felt and had rigorously documented for months in black and white in my journals.
Even writing about it now I can see that this was an important lesson for me and was the cliché gift self help guru’s encourage you to identify in experiences of this nature. The truth was I found it hard to let go of and walk away from people and experiences I no longer find fulfilling.
Looking back it was radiantly clear that I had long outgrown the role and time on the board. But my denial and lack of action meant that my former well meaning intentions had slowly over time turned into frustration and eventually into cynicism and apathy.
Reflecting back at the end of the year on the apparent failure helped me to own a limiting quality that often finds me holding on long after I should have let go. By looking back at this failure and other failures throughout the year I am now better equipped to understand my part to play in many of my failures but to also appreciate the learning that’s in there for me. I know what went wrong and have a better handle on how to respond more restoratively in the future. This is valuable data for my personal and professional growth.
Beyond the ownership of my part to play in the above examples there were also benefits to be gained from what looked like a failure on the surface. For instance leaving the organisation freed up much needed physical and psychological space that had been blocked for sometime. All the negative thinking that had consumed me around the organisation and the people I was working with evaporated and I was free to spend time investing and experimenting with my own creativity. 
On the other side of the experience looking back I can see why in the self-help movement we are encouraged to thank our persecutors. Why? Because often they are teachers in disguise helping us even unwittingly to step beyond the limitations of our comfort zones and to move into the zone of growth, which is characterised by discomfort. A place most of us are desperate to avoid.
So as we head to the first days of 2016 how about making time to list your failures from the outgoing year?

· What was the lesson or the teaching that now in hindsight you can see was part of the experience?

· What things will you change or do differently as a direct result of your understanding of your failures that are in fact insightful data for your growth?

Failures are the stepping-stones to your successes. Bring them out of the dark and into the light and you almost instantly diminish any shame that might be attached to them.
I realise that in my work as a writer and a coach and the life long task of being a human being it is the grit of our more unsavoury experiences that gets alchemized into the grace that materialises from being truthful and honest.
My honesty about my failures often starts on the welcoming blank pages of my journal. Many of my failures have been worked through on the pages of my journal with relative little harm or residue to others or myself. My journal has been one of my best life teachers and truth tellers. It has helped shaped me and solidify my core beliefs and values. I consider mindful journaling to be a powerful personal growth tool and catalyst for change.

I now teach others how to make meaningful use of journaling through my Paper Therapy online journaling course. Paper Therapy is an online seven-week inside out journey in journaling and creative writing for self-understanding and growth. Over the course of seven weeks you will deep dive into exploring your creative and spiritual self through journal prompts and creativity exercises.
The course is an intimate exploration in getting to know yourself and is supported with themed lessons and online coaching and support over the course of the seven weeks.
The New-Year offers the promise of turning over a new leaf. Every day the blank the blank pages of your journal offers the promise of a new start a point well made by author Paulo Coehlo,
‘You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of it’s own. It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle.’

Focused journaling can unearth answers to deep and meaningful questions such as: Who would you like to be in 2016? What are you hungry for? What would you love to experience more of?
We’d love to journey with you in our New Year Paper Therapy on line journaling class starting on the 18th January 2016, the first new moon of the year.
For more details click here

In the meantime I hope you find the courage and motivation to mine those failures. There’s gold there. Make sure you don’t make the mistake of leaving the gold behind.