I keep a journal, and at the end of every year, I review what I wrote. Sometimes it takes a long time, depending on the year and how diligent (or neurotic) I was that year, but it’s very informative, especially if you are a candid writer in your journals. (Why keep one if you’re not, but that is another tangent I will embark upon another time.)
I’m not very good about writing details nor do I write every day. But it’s a very good way to observe what you did and did not accomplish, reflect on what your dreams were and what they’ve become, and remember what was heartbreaking and when you were triumphant. It is a record of your growth. Or not.
This year, it just so happens that I am characteristically running late with this ritual. I am just now reading my journals for 2012.
But I’ve discovered that this kind of review is a very good way to stay in touch with what I truly want, where I am going, and how important it is to sometimes let go of certain dreams, relationships, and things when it is clearly time and focus on new ones.
This is exceptionally powerful to do around birthdays, anniversaries of any kind, holidays, the New Year, or when you’re starting a new chapter in your life for whatever reason. I also turn to the writings of others that have been exceptionally poignant and helpful for me in this area.
“Letting go of a dream is hard, yet liberating. Sometimes it’s just time to start living a different dream.”
A very important quote for me from my book is Bart Knaggs’s. It was one of my editor’s all-time favorites too. He talks about his epiphany being when he finally let go of a long-time dream that he’d experienced some success with and began taking action toward a new dream that led him to heights and satisfaction beyond his imagination.
Here is an excerpt of his interview that could really be applied to anything, not just a career dream:
“Letting go of anything you love is hard…Knowing how and when to move on from one dream to another isn’t easy, but I knew it was time to start living a different dream. Letting go of a dream can be extremely hard, yes, but it’s also liberating.”
Bart Knaggs, Epiphany, p. 224
Below is an excerpt from Martha Beck’s writing. I simply love her work and her writing, and this anecdote about disappointments and dreams is spectacular. Thinking about letting go of your disappointments and beginning, creating, and discovering your new dreams is a wonderful and exciting way to start a new chapter, in whatever area of your life.
“My favorite story about handling disappointments comes from the India guru Amrit Desai. He had a collection of very rare crystals that he’d accumulated over many years. One day his cleaning lady knocked over a display case and smashed most of the irreplaceable crystals. When she tearfully pointed out her mistake, expecting a violent reaction, the guru shrugged and told her, ‘Those things were for my joy, not for my misery.’
“Accept things for your joy instead of making them the reason for your misery. Hope for your wildest dreams to come true, and then spend all your time imagining, discussing, dreaming, and enjoying the happiest possible outcome in advance. If your heart’s desire does not happen, you have my permission to be extremely disappointed—but not for very long. The fact is, the only reason you are alive is that far more has gone right for you than has gone wrong.
“Your dreams are for your joy; even if they lie crushed on the ground, you need not make them responsible for misery. If you raise your eyes from the shards you’ll find more dreams all around, and many of them can come true.
“As Marcel Proust wrote, ‘If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time.’”
May this be the year that your dreams that are meant to serve your highest and best become realized in spades—for you and for the good of us all.
If you aren’t already, you might want to think about giving journal writing a whirl. I just write in those ninety-nine cent old-school composition notebooks you can get at any drugstore, and I use about four to six a year. Or you can buy a special leather-bound notebook or write and keep it on your computer, or there are even online journals and apps you can use, so it’s kept and protected for you somewhere in cyberspace.
But try it and see what happens. Maybe you’ll find yourself having an extraordinary experience as you review a day, a week, a year in the life of the unique and magnificent YOU.
And if journaling seems overwhelming, just do this exercise:
Think about and write down only your greatest triumph(s) of the past year or so, your greatest disappointment(s), and at least one major thing you’d like to accomplish within a year. On New Year’s Eve this year, some dear friends and I went around the dinner table and shared these as a conversation. It was a profound experience sharing with loved ones and friends who could not only hold space for our disappointments but who also could support and hold our new intentions with us. You can do this at any time of year and for any reason or celebration, and it’s fun and meaningful.
If you want to share your experiences, dreams, epiphanies, suggestions, a quote, a joke, whatever, please comment below.
Elise Ballard is the author of the book, Epiphany: True Stories of Sudden Insight to Inspire, Encourage, and Transform, a heartfelt journey full of amazing stories of fascinating people, from world-renowned figures, thought leaders, and performers—such as Maya Angelou, Dr. Oz, Desmond Tutu, Deepak Chopra and Barry Manilow—to former inmates, leading psychologists, teachers, homemakers, and many more. To learn more about Elise and Epiphany Channel, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.