An ALT View.

Creative Strategist & Partner

Each year, when the calendar flips to December, I feel the urge to reflect on the past year.  2021 has been unforgettable for everyone because the Covid pandemic continued to stretch the limits of our patience and tolerance for personal and professional uncertainty. But unforeseen events and obstacles are a part of the wild roller coaster of life. So no matter what worries are born from the unpredictability we face, I try to assess the past year with an ALT view to prepare for the year ahead.

My ALT view is an alternative focus on what I appreciated, how well I listened, and where I spent my time.  Read on to understand why I feel an ALT view can help us learn from the past months to live life with more meaning in 2022.

Appreciation

Research has proven that sharing what you’re grateful for with others causes the brain to release dopamine and serotonin that make us feel good.  And the more you express gratitude, the more you strengthen the brain pathways that create a consistent positive feeling inside you. So instead of looking back on a year with dread, I focus on what helped me make it through and express my appreciation generously.  The simple free action helps you feel great and lets the essential people in your life know you care. 

Listening

In the July blog, I stated that listening is one of the most critical and undervalued actions that a human being can perform.  When I look back on 2021, I reflect on how well I was listening to the people in my life.  Too often, our focus is pulled by the numerous distractions vying for our attention.  But, with practice, we can learn to see, hear, think, and feel more for the people and issues that make life meaningful.  Exercising openness, silence, curiosity, awareness, and respect will help block the distracting noise and hone your listening skills on what matters.

Time

One of life’s gifts that we squander every day is time.  Roman Stoic philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger wrote, “We’re tight-fisted with property and money, yet think too little of wasting time, the one thing about which we should all be the toughest misers.”  It’s difficult for me to reflect on the past year and not acknowledge how relentless interruptions stole my precious time.  Seneca bluntly calls attention to the fact that we are quick to protect what is tangible and squander what we can’t see or feel.  We can always replace money and material items, but when your time runs out, you’ll never get it back. In reviewing the past year, I take an honest look at how I spent my time, so I waste less in the New Year.

Taking an ALT look at the past year might be brutal for some people.  But, an honest evaluation of appreciation, listening, and time helps put into perspective how you’re living your life. Each passing year offers valuable insight that can improve our well-being.  But you have to take the time to pay attention to the lessons and apply what you learn.  British-Nigerian writer Habeeb Akande once said, “I may not be where I want to be, but I’m thankful for not being where I used to be.” I feel an ALT view helps realize Akande’s poignant truth.  When you take a serious look at how you live, you might not like what you see, but acknowledging how far we’ve come, helps us all live a more meaningful life.

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