Taking Action

Why An Annual Review Is Worth Your Time by Amy DeRosia

"So may all that sits unsettled and undecided within you,
may all that weighs heavy upon you,
may all that grasps and all that grabs and all that demands,
may all the loud voices and the persistence of self-doubt,
may the fear and the frozen and the fractured and too-broken,
may it all, may it all, may it all
wash from your skin
and out into the night,
to never
be able
to hold you
down again.
It is a new day, new year, the old has gone,
kiss her goodbye."

-Joel McKerrow

Attempting New Year's resolutions year after year without results is frustrating enough to turn many people off of goal setting completely.  But if you want to build new habits, one of the first steps is assessing where you are now.

An annual review is a great way to celebrate the wonderful things that happened, figure out what worked, and let go of what did not.  Some years are not fantastic. Painful years often need healing and closure. So be gentle with yourself.

I've tried a lot of methods over the past few years to create successful change in my life. None of them have fit me perfectly, but each year is a closer guess. We have to take the time to figure out what works for us as individuals.

Chris Guillebeau  leaves town for about 10 days every year to do an annual review and focuses on two questions: 1) What went well? and 2) What didn't go well? You can also ask two follow up questions: What did I learn? What do I want more of?

End of the year rituals can be as simple or detailed as you want them to be. But we could all benefit from a little self-reflection and a new start.

What tools and rituals do you use to reflect on the past year?

How to Recover More Quickly from Disappointment by Amy DeRosia

Yes, if we care enough and dare enough, we will experience disappointment. But in those moments when disappointment is washing over us and we’re desperately trying to get our heads and hearts around what is or is not going to be, the death of our expectations can be painful beyond measure.
— Brene Brown

When you're learning something new or out of your comfort zone, eventually you're going to fall down. I had a moment like this recently and was reminded of how terrible it feels-even when you are fully aware of how useful failure is.

The word failure is imperfect. Once we begin to transform it, it ceases to be that any longer. The term is always slipping off the edges of our vision, not simply because it’s hard to see without wincing, but because once we are ready to talk about it, we often call the event something else- a learning experience, a trial, a reinvention- no longer the static concept of failure.
— Sarah Lewis

When we find the courage to put ourselves in situations where we fail more, we continue to grow and learn. But we also need ways to help us get back up after the fall.

In Brenè Brown's most recent book, Rising Strong, she does a great job of talking about what she calls "facedown" moments- failure, disappointment, shame, etc. One practical suggestion to help us learn the lessons from our failure is to write about them.  Using short writing exercises can help us discover new insights about our experiences.

Emotional upheavals touch every part of our lives. You don’t just lose a job, you don’t just get divorced. These things affect all aspects of who we are- our financial situation, our relationships with others, our views of ourselves, our issues of life and death. Writing helps us focus and organize the experience.
— James Pennebaker

She mentions a researcher from the University of Texas at Austin, James Pennebaker, who has studied the benefits of short bursts of writing in the healing process. His work shows that processing your uncomfortable emotions through writing for 15-20 minutes a day can help with symptoms of anxiety, depression, and improve your immune system in as little as 4 days.

Brene suggests two sets of prompts to work through your "facedown" moments. In this first set you want to make sure you don't censor yourself. Write down your actual reaction- not how you think you should respond.

First draft thoughts:

The story I'm making up-

My emotions-

My body-

My thinking-

My beliefs-

My actions-


Once you've got your initial thoughts on paper, you can go a little deeper or as she calls it "rumble" with a second set of questions.

"The Rumble" Process:

1. What more do I need to learn and understand about the situation?

What do I know objectively?
What assumptions am I making?

2. What more do I need to learn and understand about the other people in the story?

What additional information do I need?
What questions or clarifications might help?

3. What more do I need to learn and understand about myself?

What's underneath my response?
What am I really feeling?
What part did I play?

This specific method may be too rigid for you. But I hope you find a daily practice that helps you make brave choices.


P.s. Brené Brown is offering some classes now on her new site, Courage Works, about applying her research to everyday life -including a free class on the Anatomy of Trust.

Why We Should Be More Arrogant by Amy DeRosia

CC photo by Matteo Paganelli

Creative entitlement simply means believing that you are allowed to be here, and that-merely by being here-you are allowed to have a voice, a vision of your own.
— Elizabeth Gilbert

I've never been a fan of arrogance. But developing this quality was one of my major takeaways from Elizabeth Gilbert's new book Big Magic

We wait for approval, recognition, or confirmation that our ideas are worth sharing. We feel obligated to follow the rules, go through the proper channels, and stand in line until we're noticed by someone who matters. But that method is rarely the best way to create or add value.

You don't need anyone's permission to make your art, start a movement, or solve a problem.  Even though there is security in being chosen or invited by someone else to do something, waiting to be picked is disheartening. Sometimes it doesn't happen at all. We could easily become bitter, cynical, or stuck because we're giving someone else all the power. 

The arrogance of belonging is not about egotism or self absorption. In a strange way, it’s the opposite; it is a divine force that will actually take you out of yourself and allow you to engage more fully with life. Because often what keeps you from creative living is your self-absorption (your self-doubt, your self-disgust, your self-judgement, your crushing sense of self protection). The arrogance of belonging pulls you out of the darkest depths of self hatred-not by saying ‘I am the greatest! but merely by saying ‘I am here!
— Elizabeth Gilbert

Believing that you have a place at the table changes how you interact with the world around you. You stop listening to the voice that says, "who do you think you are?" You learn by doing and speak up when you have something to say. 

Leadership, like art, is something we tend to leave to the experts. But you can be a leader through small, ordinary actions. Here is an excellent TEDx talk on Everyday Leadership by Drew Dudley:

We have made leadership into something bigger than us. We’ve made into something beyond us. We’ve made it about changing the world. And we’ve taken this title of leader, and we treat it as if it’s something that one day we’re going to deserve, but to give it to ourselves right now means a level of arrogance or cockiness that we’re not comfortable with.
— Drew Dudley

Creativity and leadership are not supposed to be for the select few. We are all artists and leaders whether we define ourselves that way or not. This type of confidence will spill over into every area of our lives, relationships, and communities.

When have you been arrogant for all the right reasons? Did It pay off?