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5 Ways to End the Year Right

5 Ways to End the Year Right

The end of the year can be bittersweet. It is dual in nature, a dying of the old and the beginning of something new. It can put our accomplishments and failures in sharp focus, and force us to reflect on how we’ve spent the year. For me, the transition from autumn to winter—the cold nip in the air descending into chill, the trees shedding their glorious heads of red and gold, the sunlight prematurely creeping into night—has always triggered re-evaluation, and lots and lots of mixed emotions. Are you struggling with year end blues? Here are five tips to help you kiss 2015 goodbye and greet 2016 with a huge smile.

1. Go ahead, look back.

Say it with me and Socrates: “An unexamined life is not worth living.” It’s healthy to sit down and take stock of events and choices that led us to where we are in life at this particular moment in time. Was there anything you could have done better? Are there self-destructive habits you need to let go of? When we look back, we not only take time to acknowledge our actions and learn from them; it also helps us notice certain situations, people, or patterns that may no longer serve us.

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different.” (C.S. Lewis)

“It’s okay to look back at the past. Just don’t stare.” (Benjamin Dover)

2. Highlight the successes.

Though looking for ways to improve is a good thing, there is nothing wrong with giving ourselves a pat on the back for a job well done. Perhaps you were able to lock down the apartment of your dreams this year. Or finally got around to starting a small savings account or investment fund. Maybe you quit smoking or stuck to your gym regimen. No matter how trivial it may seem, personal successes and accomplishments are worth toasting to. So clink, clink!

“Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.” (Anne Sweeney)

“Celebrate your success and find humor in your failures.” (Sam Walton)

3. Forgive yourself.

This piece of advice is something I constantly have to remind myself to practice. I am my worst critic. It’s so easy to beat ourselves up for our so-called failures. So maybe you didn’t get the promotion you were expecting. Or maybe you feel like you didn’t work hard enough to achieve your goals. Perhaps a relationship you put so much energy in ended. Sometimes, we can be so kind to other people but so hard on ourselves. We are all perfectly flawed. And we have to love and forgive ourselves despite our faults and flaws in the same way that we love and forgive others in spite of their imperfections.

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.” (Oprah Winfrey)

“Detach from needing to have things work out a certain way. The universe is perfect and there are no failures. Give yourself the gift of detaching from your worries and trust that everything is happening perfectly.” (Orin)

4. Give thanks.

Make a list of everything you are thankful for this year. Gather friends and family ’round the table, and let them know how lucky you feel to have them in your life. The habit of thankfulness is like a muscle that needs to be exercised. The more we focus on what we’re grateful for in life, the more we notice the abundance of blessings around us.

“Happiness isn’t about getting what you want all the time. It’s about loving what you have and being grateful for it.” (Asher Roth)

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but a parent of all the others.” (Cicero)

5. Celebrate!

Lastly, get those dancing shoes on and shake that booty on the dance floor! You are alive here and now, and the future is blazing in front of you. Shake it to the left for the 365 days you lived in 2015. Shake it to the right for the 365 days of newness up ahead. Let 2015 go and open your heart wide wide wide for all the loving, learning, and living that’s in store for you this new year!

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

“Live life like everything is rigged in your favor.” (Rumi)

Featured photo credit: Sunrise in Calgary/davebloggs007 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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