And here we find ourselves at the end of the year, on the precipice of the shortest day, the prospect of more winter ahead and the promise of a new year peaking on the horizon.
What would you like to bring with you into the shiny New Year? What would you like to leave behind?
There’s a certain type of pressure that comes with the completion of the year, an obligation of sorts to pull it together and make next year really count. It can be hard to put out this energy, though, especially if it feels like work; we’re meant to be cozied away in our cave, safe and warm, waiting out the winter, holding fast until spring.
Keeping a broader perspective is a kinder approach. There’s nothing magical about January 1st; while it’s a handy marker to measure things by, it has no inherent power over the course of things. It isn’t a sacred oracle that holds sway over the coming year. Rather than bow to the false idol, now may be the time to let go a bit, let your vision of how things are or should be get a bit fuzzy around the edges.
Taking this approach, recall all that matters in your life and truthfully assess how much attention you put toward those things. If you’re filling the main buckets of your life, the other things tend to fall into place. Neglecting these fundamental buckets leads to dissatisfaction, a level of disheartening that can spiral down into lost feeling. The amount of satisfaction you experience is directly proportional to the amount of attention you pay to this bottom line.
Time and attention put toward understanding what your bottom line is, is time well spent. Use the energy of the season to go inward and rediscover who you are, and what matters to you. Make sure these things are woven into the year to come. A fulfilling and satisfying life awaits you on the other side.
An Exercise to Get Started
As mentioned, the New Year is almost here, and you can help ensure it’s what you’d like it to be: give it a bit of attention now by taking stock of what you’ve liked and want to keep or get more of, as well as what to let go of, and creating an overarching theme to help guide you.
What do you want to leave behind?
Not everything that happens is something you want to repeat; take a few minutes to reflect on what you could do without from this year; make a list. Some things you may want to consider leaving behind are saying yes too much, settling for less, structures which don’t support you, and fear of success.
What do you want to take forward?
Review the year and notice what you enjoyed, the things that truly fed your soul. Make a list, noting what you’d like to carry forward. Apple pie? Yummy. Fantastic clients? You bet. Meaningful time with friends and family? Right on! Inner peace and enlightenment? Yes, please. Trips and adventures? Yippee!
Set a theme.
A theme provides a guiding idea which serves as a filter for what you do, an over-arching ideal that compels you forward. Some of my favorite themes from past years (one there per year) have included “simple”, “freedom”, “courage”, “expansion”. You can get inspiration for your theme by looking over your “leave behind” and “take forward” lists, or perhaps something’s been on your mind that you’d like to give voice to. Brainstorm different ways you can demonstrate your theme in the coming year; one of my favorite ways to do this is via mind mapping.
Pulling it all together.
Post your lists and theme where you can see them regularly – near the computer, on the fridge, or write them on your bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker. By giving yourself the gift of this intentional and focused time, you hugely increase the chances that the New Year will be the kind of year you want it to be, the kind that truly fulfills you.