The new year can be overwhelming. On one hand, we suddenly have a lot of time to reflect, renew, and recover from the year just passed. On the other hand, it is also a time of debauchery and excess. Sometimes we can get caught up in this and miss out on the incredible opportunity that is presented to us. It’s the opportunity to look at the next 12 months and decide what we want to achieve.
The good news is that we can have both self-reflection and celebration. It is all a matter of approaching things in a new and curious way. Holidays can be an intense time, but they can also provide space for figuring out what comes next.
We want change to happen quickly, but the reality is that lasting change is an ongoing process. Change mostly involves just showing up every day and taking committed action. Even for a lot of high achievers, ongoing success involves self-reflection, routine and a community of supportive and like-minded people around you.
Here are some ideas for starting the new year in the best possible state of mind. Be clear about your intentions and realistic about what’s achievable.
We recommend you find a pen and paper and sit somewhere peaceful to answer the questions below.
- Consider where you might want to be in a year’s time. How would you like to have changed? What things would you like to have learned? What things would you like to have removed or reduced in your life?
- Reflect on what is going really well in your life. Achievements that don’t usually feature in your self-appraisal are really important!
- When you have made changes in your life previously, what has supported you in this? Perhaps you are the kind of person who benefits from having like-minded others around you (eg. a fitness buddy). Or, perhaps a very structured approach is best for you, with time set aside each day for each goal.
- Consider the very best times in your life. What was happening during those times that contributed to your happiness or success? Was it to do with the people you were spending time with? Or was it more to do with your sense of purpose or personal growth? It is likely that there were several things that were contributing to you feeling contented and optimistic.
- How do you want to be of service? Many find the pinnacle of personal growth is when they realise that their needs are sufficiently met to then look at meeting others’ needs. For some people, this involves caring for children or family members. For others, it means being of service to the community or spending time thinking about how to solve problems in the world. When we look at grandparents (who are the best examples of this idea), we see that not only are they often incredibly contented, they are also an invaluable source of support and guidance for those who need it. Bringing the values of compassion and empathy into our daily lives can be beneficial both for us and for those around us.
- Have a conversation with your future self. What kinds of things do you think they might say to you? What questions might you ask them? This can be a profound exercise in perspective-taking. What might be on your mind as a 50-year-old self, or a 70-year-old self? What might be important to that version of you, and what might they tell you to focus on and appreciate now, in the present?
Take it with you into the new year
When you are considering the new year, it’s a good idea to give yourself some space to think about these ideas. See if you can reflect on them with those around you. Perhaps others have been thinking similar things or have found that they were able to make changes in their own lives.
Remember, a big part of this is showing up every day, keeping an eye on the big picture. There will be times during the year when none of this makes sense; all that is visible is the short term, and that is fine. Often, the goals we make in the new year will shift or change. What is important is that we have taken the time to think about what it is that we truly want and the things that really matter. Here’s to an excellent 2018!
To find out more and to download Daybreak, a program by Hello Sunday Morning, visit hellosundaymorning.org/daybreak.