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  • Dr. Lalit Chawla

E#28: How Will You Remember this Year?

In this quick win episode I share with you how to recap the highlights and lessons from your year and how to set yourself up next year?

Remembering our Time is Invaluable

(This is the core of the transcript from the podcast. The Intro has been removed and some areas improved for reading ease.)


I hope this year has been exceptionally well for you and your loved ones and that you are moving towards your personal aspirations. I certainly realize that’s not going to be the case for everyone. This year you may have seen some challenges. I know a couple of friends of mine who have had significant illnesses and also have had close family members pass away or are recovering from an injury; that has certainly been impactful and creates lots of reflection about what’s truly is important in our lives.

I also know in different times in our life that we struggle with challenges whether it’s personal health, our relationships, with family members, at work or sometimes getting work.

Sometimes we ask the question “Is this all there is to life? Are things going to change for the better? Why am I so bored in my life?” Have you ever asked that? I know I have at different times in my life.

When things are bad you tend to get worried and anxious, when things are good you can get comfortable, but both states teach us something.

When things are bad you tend to get worried and anxious, when things are good you can get comfortable, but both states teach us something. When we are worried or anxious those emotions increase our awareness by helping us know that we need to change something in our lives for the better. We may need help and/or revisit areas in our life- the old strategies of communicating or doing things may not be serving us anymore. We need to learn new ways to evolve, after all we are not the same person we were a year ago and the people and the environment we live has also changed.

When things are good, we also need to use those times to build and learn ways to help with tough times that will definitely come ahead. And that certainly is inevitable in everyone’s life. The challenge is, when things are too good in our lives is that we get complacent and may not ask questions such as:

- How can I be better personally?

- Am I reaching my full potential?

- How can I help others reach their full potential?

- What can I do to leverage the resources around me to find my purpose and live life to the fullest with greater meaning?

Comfortability can make us oblivious to what we were truly meant to do for ourselves, and others in our circle of influence. Uncomfortable emotions serve a purpose because it's your internal voice saying "you can be better or watch out for hazards ahead"

Comfortability can make us oblivious as to what we were truly meant to do for ourselves, and others in our circle of influence. Uncomfortable emotions serve a purpose because it’s your internal voice saying “you can be better or watch out for that hazard ahead”.

The one question I’ll ask you is “what do people want from their life?” My belief is that people what to have full joy, prosperity and health; personally and with the people they connect with. They want to live with greater presence and purpose. They want an abundance mindset and not live in a scarcity mindset and succumb to fear.

One of the significant obstacles to feeling content today, more than ever, is that we live in a world where we evaluate success with things that are accumulated, acquired or accomplished. Such as a new phone, car, more money, a luxurious vacation, a promotion or I’ve spoken at more conferences etc. Then we get into this ever chasing cycle of happiness is somewhere ahead of us and not right with us or next to us in the day to day moments.

The most meaningful things in our lives are NOT measurable, such as our relationship with our co-workers, the laughter we have with good friends, the smiles and experiences with family. How do you measure that? What price do you put on that? We can forget those things that give us joy, and it’s only when we lose those them - do we realize “gosh that really is what was most important.”

If I were to ask you “what is one of the most important things you’ve received joy from in the last year or month, what would that be?” Think about that? Even pause this podcast and ask yourself that question.

I’m willing to bet that it’s the positive experiences you’ve had with others or with self-improvements you’ve made with yourself. Relationships and experiences are the things we remember. Even when we get something like a new car, or gadget or an accomplishment, we share that with others. That sharing is what amplifies the joy and connections we feel.

And the relationship you have with yourself is the most important and first relationship that you have to foster and nurture continually. When we are well, personally and connected with ourselves, we can be better connected with others. When you’re on an airplane and the oxygen mask comes down you have to put it on yourself first before assisting even your children. That self-connection and improvement is a skill and something we can learn to amplify which requires constant conditioning. You know if you don’t build that muscle of self-image, self-confidence, resilience you lose it. You forget what it is that makes you innately remarkable.

At this time of year, the two questions I get asked is:

1) how do you end the year and prepare for the new year?

2) and how do you balance that equation of accomplishing tasks/goal setting and avoid the feeling of chasing something in the future; yet learning to be present with people and enjoying the momentary things that happen in our daily life?

“you don’t have to be great to start but you do have to start to be great.”

So I’ll answer the first part in this podcast.

So in December, I always end of the year by recapping major events that have happened. Things that I have been excited about and especially things that have been challenging. It reminds me to keep a growth mindset.

I’ll think about the things I’ve learned during the year. What went well and what I learnt from these experiences? What people in my life am I excited about? What new people did I meet?

Basically a year in recap. I’ll share with you my strategy and why I did this.

I started this about five years ago because when I would think back to what happened in the last year or 2-3 year's prior, I couldn’t really recall the highlights or lessons learned. Do you ever ask yourself the question “what did I do this past year or what major events happened even 2-3 years ago with myself, work, family members?”

I don’t know if you fall into this camp of thinking, but when I look at old photographs I think “wow, yeah we went to that wedding, we saw that monument or I had that experience” and then you relive those moments through the photos. So I decided I needed to have a little summary sheet that was highlight reel of what I did each year. Plus it serves as another purpose which I’ll get to.

So what print a18 month calendar, with each month, on a 8x11 sheet. Then I have it laid out chronologically from Jan,Feb,March and so onto a 3‘ x 4‘ cork board, in my home office. This visually let’s let me know, in terms of planning,what I need to do in the coming year and what steps I need to do to take to prepare for different events. It also lets me know what I need to schedule to maintain greater health, relationships and career goals too.

is there a project, big or small, that you really want to do? Is there something personal you’d like to improve whether it’s with your health, career, or relationship wise? With your family? What’s holding you back?

Now, just as importantly, when the year is over, I can look back and literally see “where the time went”. I can see how I used that time. I do this by taking a colorful sheet of paper and writing the year on top and then list 15 or more major events in the year by looking at each month. I think of the major events in terms of family goals, health goals, career goals and passion projects. So for example this year, I coached my son’s soccer team, my daughter broke her arm this year, which wasn’t a high light but important, I attended and spoke at many medical conferences which focused on physician’s health and communications. I started this podcast etc.

I also include quotes that motivated me and kept me moving forward. For instance. One of the quotes for this year was from Zig Zigler’s quote “you don’t have to be great to start but you do have to start to be great.” That motivated me to start this podcast and kept me going; along with the kind words I’ve received from listeners and colleagues. I’ve been really glad that I did start this podcast, because for many months, actually about 1.5 year, I was just waiting to get better, to be more organized or to find time. I was actually delaying the process because of fear.

And that quote pushed me forward to do something that I was really nervous about doing and didn’t want to step out of my comfort zone to do. Performing on stage or lecturing is much easier than talking to camera where you don’t have a live audience also not performing magic tricks is totally a different element for me.

So here’s a question for you, “is there a project, big or small, that you really want to do? Is there something personal you’d like to improve whether it’s with your health, career, or relationship wise? With your family? What’s holding you back?

What would you like to say by this time next year in those areas of your life?

be patient with the process

If you’ve had a difficult year, know that tomorrow is a new opportunity and that there are many great people and organizations that want and need you to succeed and they are there help you do that. We don’t have to live in the past unless we choose to and tomorrow is always a new opportunity to be better. It’s all about making a choice and getting help. We all need help to become better and work together.

Another quote that kept me going this year was “be patient with the process.” Sometimes we rush and want to see results quicker and especially in this fast-paced society where we see people on FB living what looks like, an amazing life and we want that. We can feel inadequate. But that quote also reminds me to remember the bigger picture about what you are doing. And thinking about your purpose. Everything we do is taking moment to moment steps and cultivating and practicing the habit of choosing wisely at each point.

The other important thing I do is that I look back and think about what I been grateful for. Gratitude is the single mindset habit that fuels everything we do. It’s been scientifically proven that grateful people are happier, less sick, more resilient, get better jobs, accomplish more you name it. What are some things you can be grateful for? Even if you don’t feel like answering that question right now, what could you be grateful for if you looked hard enough? Gratitude is the fuel that gives us positive energy. When you have that mindset, you wake up wanting to share and do things that have a purpose.

This year I’ve been very grateful to have met so many new people in my life more than usual. I think of the wonderful people who’ve commented on the podcasts and connected with me I’m very grateful for them.

- I’m also very grateful for all the gracious people I interviewed for the podcast. Mark Bowden who taught about the myths and mistakes about body language.

- From the wisdom of Dr. John Crosby, and to the incredible life lessons from Dena Moitoso who gave tremendous lessons on how to help people in the grieving process and her teachings of all the issues and psychology around suicide.

- To my good friend Roger Love, the celebrity voice coach to the Hollywood stars, and his invaluable lessons of how to use our voice to truly connect with people and the fun time I spent with him in Hollywood.

Then I think about what can I be excited about for the future? New people that I know I’ll be meeting, especially for this podcast, I’m super excited about them and I know you will enjoy them too! And I think about new lessons, new goals that I would like to learn in the coming year.

I really believe we should plan things that we can look forward to. This creates a unique momentum and drive too.

So in summary:

I encourage you to look at some of the big events in your life and simply create a one pager about the highlights in this past year, this way when you look back, you can see what you did and you can have a collection of them.

A little tip, I email them to myself and this is a nice filing system so it’s easily accessible. I really want to thank you the listeners for listening and contributing. I want thank my good friend Cameron for his work as a videographer and podcast producer. I also want to thank my friend Will Brown for his editing work that he has done on the blog components.

And finally I want to say, with all my heart, that I hope you will be able to spend time resting, recuperating with friends and family.

I will be using this time to reflect on the past year and plan for the future and I’ll be taking a couple weeks off from the podcast and I’ll re-join you in the beginning of January. I hope you join me in making your next year the best it’s ever been; and that this time next year you will be better than you were now.

May the holiday season be kind to you and be full of magic and wonder! I will see you in the new year!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!


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