Shoulda. Coulda. Woulda.

I know it’s cliché to say that I can’t believe we are at the end of 2021 but I can’t help myself. It’s really hard to believe. 

Where does the time go!?!? 

I remember when I was a girl, watching my mom look at herself in the mirror, pulling back her cheeks and neck to smooth it all out and say to me, “I still feel 16 inside.” 

Of course, I had no idea what she was talking about but now, I totally get it. 

I pull back my cheeks and neck in the mirror or while waiting to be let into the Zoom room.  And while my heart and soul still feel young inside, I’m reminded some days by my body that time is a cruel mister (yes, you read that right).

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I allow myself to be drawn into a little game - with myself or with others - called, “Shoulda. Coulda. Woulda.” 

I’m sure you’ve heard of it or even played it yourself. (It’s not a game you want to play after drinking too much tequila.) 

This game may be triggered while stalking Facebook and seeing a couple of old friends having drinks together in New York City and you remember what a blast everything and everyone was back then and think to yourself, “What happened to me?!?!?”  

Then you start looking back on your life with statements like, “I really wish I would/wouldn’t have…” Or the popular, “If only I had/hadn’t…” followed by a storm of personal attacks about everything you did or didn’t do, who you did or didn’t date/marry, the job you did/didn’t take, the move you did/didn’t make, and so on.

In reality, “Shoulda. Coulda. Woulda.” is a form of personal torture akin to pulling out your own fingernails. It makes no sense why anyone would do this, and it’s painful. Incredibly painful. 

When I get going down this path, my husband will say to me, “What’s behind you is not in front of you.” 

He’s not wrong. 

So in the spirit of taking a look back on 2021 in a more positive and proactive way, and with an open mind and heart, my Advanced Emergenetics colleagues created a 2021 Year in Review and Reflection Guide, designed to take an intentional approach to reflect on the various aspects of your life over the past year. 

Reflection gives your brain an opportunity to pause and create meaning from your experiences. When you pause to reflect, your brain is also able to process information more effectively. 

As you prepare for the year ahead, full of unknown potential, opportunities, and adventure, take some time to yourself to reflect so that you may move into the new year filled with intention and purpose. 

And when you find yourself playing a useless “game” of what might have been, consider this quote from John Dewey, American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer:

“We do not learn from experience... we learn from reflecting on experience.” 

As you reflect, do your best to find learning, meaning, gratitude or whatever else may come up for you about what you experienced over the past year.

I’m gifting you this 2021 Year in Review and Reflection Guide to support you in giving yourself the credit you deserve for all that you accomplished over the past 12 months. Please drop me a line and share your reflection experience with me at [email protected].

Stay tuned for the 2022 Action Guide coming your way soon to help you plan for the year ahead. And while you do, enough with the cheek and neck pulling. 


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