How will reflection and reckoning shape you in 2019? (Read my story.)

At a client lunch last week, the chat around the table swirled around this past year. A few chatted about the moments they found juiciest — where they felt proudest or most joyful or engaged. Others talked about most challenging moments, lessons learned, and hopes for 2019.

I’m a big fan of reflection, of pausing to get curious, to consider small moments and their impact. And, in my book, it’s the noticing of and reflecting on these moments that individuals do throughout their days and lives — and then the reckoning with the feelings that come up as a result — that grows strength and resilience and happier, more courageous people.

More coaching conversations than you might think start with the question:

When do you feel triggered or snagged - that “something’s got me in a bad way” feeling?

Followed by:

Have you gotten curious about why?

In her work on courage and vulnerability, research professor and author Brené Brown talks compellingly about the reckoning process.

“Reckoning involves walking into our story by paying attention to our emotions and getting curious about them, rather than numbing or ignoring the discomfort.”

She emphasizes — and empathizes! — that doing the reckoning is hard. Explore my feelings? Face my internal narratives? No thank you.

That said, it can be done. So, in the spirit of transparency (and vulnerability— eek!), here’s one of my own stories of reckoning from 2018.

I love/hate to write. I respect and enjoy words (massively), how they’re used, their multiple meanings and origins. I write as an aspect of my work: proposals, keynotes, assessments, facilitator notes, agendas. I also write blog posts and thought leadership pieces around what I’m learning every day and the truths of what it takes for leaders and teams to be successful and happy.

No, wait… I don’t actually do that last thing very much at all.

I had a grand plan at the outset of the year to publish at least one piece of writing per month. Over the course of the year, I sketched out topic areas, gathered relevant resources, and worked out timing. I wrote and published a post in February and another in May, but besides those… nothing. I intended to sit down and write many times, and in fact did start a number of promising drafts on a variety of topics but didn’t finish most of them.

I felt bad about this.

Explanations for this behavior came to mind: “I’m just too busy”, “I must be either lazy/uninspired/disorganized” (none of which I believe to be true). Then I got more curious about it. I focused on the feelings that arose for me when I attempted to write and then stopped: doubtful, uneasy, inhibited, super exposed.

And the questions in my head sounded like:

What if what I write isn’t original or interesting or motivating to my readers?

• How can my writing be relevant to everyone who reads it?

• Everyone is SO busy - how can I make sure to not waste my readers’ time?

Sometimes these questions became dramatic statements:

My writing isn’t original, interesting or motivating to my readers.

What I’m saying isn’t relevant, and…

It’s not going to be worth the time to read.

By not sharing my writing and by pushing away these feelings, I could avoid the whole writing thing… and just keep working.

Even now, I can get snagged in the writing moments. Recently, however I decided to push on — knowing full well that there will be topics that won’t interest or inspire or resonate, and that not every reader will emerge feeling the same level of motivation or learning as others might. I’m well aware that there will also be people who just plain disagree with my point of view, or who won’t even take the time to read — and that’s ok too. I’ll remember that the point of producing the writing is to offer up ideas, to invite consideration — and to stretch myself. It’s for these reasons and in this spirit that I will effort not only to write, but to finish and to share.

So, here’s an idea for you: in the coming days, take whatever (richly-deserved) break you can from the pace, the goals and timelines of our daily lives. Take the dog for a stroll (that’s my practice), take a drive minus the audiobook/podcast, leave a boring party early — and get curious about reckoning with something that matters to you. And in a future moment when you get that snagged feeling — do the same — pause, reflect and muster the courage to reckon with it.