I like this time of year – back from the holidays having enjoyed some great sunny weather and a change of scene. A bit more rested and refreshed than usual…
It feels good to think about getting back into things and tackling new projects. Sharpening our pencils and clearing out the metaphorical pencil case in readiness for new work ahead. And the weather starts to cool down, the days shorten and the prospect of a warming stew seems suddenly attractive.
It’s a second start to the year and one without the added pressure that comes with 1st January.
There are no new year’s resolutions to make and break. No underlying tension about joining a gym; just a fresh start. It’s a good time to take stock before the next phase of the year gets going in earnest.
I find a very helpful exercise to help me check in with myself is the Examen. This short 10-minute reflection helps you get in touch with what’s going on underneath the surface of life and taps into your inner wisdom and intuition. It’s a great way to discover what gives you energy and what drains you, so that you can focus on the right things going forward.
Here’s what to do:
- Find a quiet place where you can be still and won’t be disturbed. Turn off your mobile phone. Set a timer for 10 minutes.
- Think back over the past day/week/month or whatever period you want to review recalling the key events, conversations, meetings, frustrations… times of happiness, stress, joy, boredom. You might play back the time in your head like a movie or just let events emerge in your mind in random order. Either way is fine. Don’t judge what you see; just observe.
- Now notice the times when you felt energised, alive, grateful, generous, loving. When were you at your best? What was happening? What do these times tell you about yourself and others? Be thankful for them.
- Focus now on the moments when you felt distracted, bored, drained, disconnected. Don’t judge yourself. What was going on then? What can you learn?
- Spend a moment thinking ahead to tomorrow or the next week/month. What will you be doing? Where will you be? What do you desire for yourself? How do you want to be?
To get the most from this exercise, afterwards jot down what you notice. Pay attention to what you find energising and fulfilling. What does that tell you about your gifts and strengths?
What are you learning about what you do not enjoy and about how you behave under stress? How could you make changes to enable you to do more of what is energising, or manage the times of distraction more effectively?
As you repeat this exercise over time, notice the patterns you find. Certain things will stand out as energising or draining. You start to see what comes up as trustworthy and telling you something significant.
As I did this exercise and reflected on the past few months, I noticed what has been energising for me has been working on expanding my coaching practice. It has put me right out of my comfort zone, but at the same time, it has been hugely life-giving and I have learned such a lot about myself and others in the process.
I recognised too how draining self-doubt is and how it comes from a place of insecurity. A place which is definitely NOT my inner wisdom and intuition.
What I want for the next few months is to be open to experimenting with approaches to how I do business – there’s something about playfulness that feels important at the moment. I also want to find a better balance between work and rest/recreation.
This exercise was created by Ignatius of Loyola and forms part of his spiritual practice. I would love to hear how you find doing this exercise. Please share your thoughts or questions in the Facebook group.
I wish you a fruitful time in the next few weeks and look forward to catching up next month.