Have you ever done the Highs & Lows of your day? What was your highest (special, happiest, feel-good) moment of the day, and what was your lowest (hardest, saddest, maddest) moment of the day? This practice is also known as Roses & Thorns. I’m an eternal optimist but it’s not lost on me the importance of looking at the not so good moments as well as the positive ones because a) it’s good to keep it real and b) that’s typically where the learning is. So for a little spin on things, I’d like to suggest you do the Highs & Lows or Roses & Thorns for this year because when you are ending a year and setting intentions for the New Year you want to take all those hard earned nuggets of wisdom you gathered along the way (however hidden) and use them as fuel to make next year more of what you’d like it to be and hopefully a little less thorny and a lot more rosy.
So pour your favorite cup of whatever and grab a notebook, journal, or back of an envelope and jot down your Roses & Thorns for 2017. I have to say for me 2017 has felt more thorny than rosy, but when I wrote it all down, I was genuinely surprised that I had more roses than thorns, and even some of my favorite experiences came out of things that I perceived as being bad at the time.
Since my work centers on creating change, making the list is only the first step. Information is good but it’s what we do with this information that makes the difference. So after you create your list, look it over and mark off all the thorns that are taken care of, or not likely to happen again. For instance, last year I was feeling massive stress. When I brought in additional coaches, it meant that I’d be doing more marketing and less coaching. I’ve been marketing a new accountability session every 3 months for 5 years, so I know what I’m doing and I thought it would be easy, but what I didn’t realize was that my primary focus would be the part of my business that causes me the least stress without the part that I find the most rewarding. It took me almost the whole year to realize I needed to change things up and move off the marketing model I was using. Instead, I’ll be teaching more (which I love), coaching more (which I also love), and offering incentives to people to join my program for a year at a time. Hence, I’m able to scale while giving myself a job I really enjoy. So that thorn is taken care of.
Other thorns included the two emergency root canals I had this summer, the rats that moved into my house while we were gone for Thanksgiving, and the Thomas Fire that had us displaced for two weeks in December. Definite thorns, but not likely to happen again.
All and all in reviewing your list you will find things that aren’t likely to happen again, things that you have very little if any control over, and things that you do – that’s great news because it gives you information about what areas you can actively work to improve. Great food for thought when it comes to setting 2018 goals!
Now for the roses, these are just plain fun, but the most interesting thing to me is that if you’ve had a tough month or two (like me) it tends to color your perspective of the entire year whereas if you take the time to think through each month you remember all the good things that happened and in remembering you get to enjoy them all over again. Not surprisingly my roses include the people I’ve gotten to be in relationship with and the experiences we’ve shared so that also serves as a reminder that when I think of what I want more of in 2018 its time spent with the people I care about, sharing good times, and visiting new places. It also reminds me that I’m blessed to do work I love and be surrounded by people that I genuinely admire and feel honored to serve.
So, I encourage you to do this simple exercise. It could literally take you less than 5 minutes but there is so much to be learned by taking the time. And if you do, I’d love for you to tell me in the comments or shoot me a quick email and let me know what wisdom you found in it.
Just did it! What a TERRIFIC exercise. It really put this past year in perspective for me. I had more than twice as many roses as thorns. And some of my roses were really, really amazing (my oldest son got married). Thanks for this idea. I love your end of year planning and reflecting exercises!
Hi Bonnie! I’m so excited you did it and that you had twice the number of roses. How cool is that!? Congrats on your oldest son getting married too.