Who Does Your Year-End Review?

It’s time for your year-end review. The one where you go over all the stuff you did (or didn’t), the weight you lost (or gained), the promotion you got (or got passed over for). It’s time to go over all of the things that happened this year (can you believe it?) and reckon with the fact that the year is now over (can you believe it?). Time flew with some of it, and stood still with others, your heart beating quickly in response to the moments that are seared into your mind.

It was quite the year.

The challenge to the year-end review is to do it without judgement, without criticism, without a bar held up to *here* of all the goals you had set for yourself in 2018 and did or didn’t meet. But rather like you’re flipping through a photo album or watching a documentary. Taking an extra moment to linger in in 2018 before we jump into 2019.

Because in our eagerness to have a fresh start in 2019, we may wipe the slate clean of all the richness and emotions that took place in 2018. We may erase the hearts broken, the tears shed, the fists clenched, the shame, the anger, the pain and with it all of their upsides as well - the resilience, the hope, the boldness, the vulnerability, the awareness and the truth.

In our anticipation of the goals of 2019, we may overlook our achievements of 2018 - the ones that are less measurable and less popular: how our compassion deepened and our hearts widened. How we walked over to the edge of our tolerance and understanding and did our best to push past it and try to understand the Other’s point of view. Conversely, how we stopped allowing people to pee on us and call it rain (thank you, G), by redefining our boundaries and holding onto them firmly, even as our hands shook because of our limited practice in holding onto boundaries and our experience of it as conflict-fueling and isolating. And still.

In our rush to make resolutions for 2019, we may step over the ways in which we unfolded in 2018 - in our kindness towards our bodies, our awareness of our choices at work, our patience in our relationships, our desires and needs in our partnerships. Our resolutions await in the wings, ready to take center stage (most of them resolution reruns brought out year after year, this one with a new name, perhaps, but always the same cast of characters: Lose Weight! Get Healthy!! Don’t Eat Sugar!!! Go to the Gym!!!! Resolutions come with exclamation marks. The older they are, the more they need. Each exclamation mark an added push for the times the resolution did not get resolved before, Each one a shameful reminder of the ways in which you have failed before, but won’t this time. Because this time you are resolved and ready and determined. As if you weren’t all the other times. As if you weren’t just one year ago today when you made the same resolution.) Be wary of your resolutions because they can be mean. And so can your year-end review.

Next week I will be doing my year-end review with my bestie. We will go over the year’s highs and lows. Go over the moments of sublime joy and heart-breaking pain. Go over our lists of what we wanted in 2017 and what actually happened in 2018. At one point, my voice will lower and I will make a comment, a subtle jab at myself for something I did or didn’t do. My bestie is a vigilant witness,  picking up on these remarks like a Dachshund trailing a scent, barking out the moment she smells my self mean-ness, “Hey, hey, hey! Cut that out!!” (Taming our critic’s voice is a better use of exclamation marks, IMHO.) That’s the benefit of doing your year-end review with someone whose kindness for you exceeds your own. A warm and gentle revisiting of 2018.

And less resolutions for the year to come.