We are now entering a new year. Every day we have the opportunity to start something amazing and to change some of our habits. But the start of a new year calls us to action more intensely.
The most common association with the new year are our New Year’s Resolutions, but this article is not really about resolutions at all.
When we think of resolutions, we think of something that we don’t like about our lives that we want to change. There is nothing bad about wanting to better your life in some way, but what matters most is how we approach it. I cannot imagine jumping right into thinking about flaws I want to change. Often these flaws don’t come from our minds, but from society. You know, the things that we should do, like exercise more, eat better, and drink more water.
So what can we do to ensure that the beginning of our new year is unique?
Instead of arbitrary, anxiety-ridden resolutions, here are my suggestions for how to reflect on the ending of one year, and the beginning of another.
1. What did I do well?
The first thing I do is write a list of things that I have done well in the last year. I write these successes in my journal without holding anything back. After I write this celebratory list about the past year. I revisit it in particularly crappy moments when I feel that nothing is right it my life.
It is nice to remind ourselves what have we accomplished and overcome, and it feels good to celebrate it.
In my list for 2018, I wrote about helping in a kindergarten, using my knowledge of Montessori pedagogy with 3-6 year old children, improving my spelling, starting a blog, writing a book.
The more things you write on your list, the better, and remember that no accomplishment is too small to fit. Every personal victory counts, big or small. This list can help us strengthen our self-confidence and remind ourselves that we can finish our tasks throughout the year.
2. What have I learned?
In this list, I include different skills and life lessons that I learned in the last year. It is a truly interesting process to reflect on the various experiences you can have within one year, and the meanings that bloom from them. This reflection helps us learn from the past and move forward with that knowledge. You can also add workshops, courses, or a new recipe you perfected!
In my list for 2018, I was sure to include the lessons I learned about friendship, and what I experienced in a Mindfulness course. I learned that having a background is important for me, I wrote about learning that I need roots to flourish, but I also feel proud stepping out of my comfort zone. I even learned to be happy living in an van!
3. What were my happiest moments?
This is a great list for reflecting on the gratitude in life, and writing each and every moment on my list makes me feel more grateful than the last. I am grateful for the opportunity to experience these moments and for the people who experience them with me.
In this list, I included dog sitting and puppy sitting, massages, skiing in the mountains, a surprise birthday party, traveling through national parks, the food in a great Japanese restaurant, reading books, visiting the Disney Museum, a ferry ride, and so many more.
Now let’s go to the core of the apple.
After reflecting on these three points and writing my lists, I feel happy. I’m grateful. I see how much happened during the year in front of me in black and white (or in my case blue ink and white). I also see that I accomplished something last year, which helps me to plan for the upcoming year.
4. What are my New Year’s goals?
It’s here! I am finally writing a list for a new year and enjoying it. After reflecting on the previous year, I know that anything is possible. I invite winged goals into my life in hopes of truly stretching out to catch them, because, to me, life really is an amazing game. I also include simpler things, and come back to my list a few times throughout the year to check my progress. This year, one small goal I set is to bake vegan macarons.
The list is not effective if we write it and never look at it again. It’s worth it to check on it throughout the year, even in the middle of March when no one talks about New Year’s goals anymore.
This list for me is not a yearly law, and it’s not permanent. I don’t punish myself for not completing it or changing it throughout the year. I always include achievable goals, even if it’s to continue something I already do. Setting achievable goals is already a reason to be proud of ourselves, don’t you think?
My goals for 2018 included regular yoga practice, reading Marie Kondo’s book, running a 5k race, winning something that makes me happy, converting our van, running my own website, and finding a creative outlet.
As the time goes on, I also change some of the goals and work with them differently, because as I change throughout the year, so do my goals.
5. What makes me happy?
Although it might seem strange, I have been creating this list the longest. I think most people know what makes them happy. I also know what makes me happy in some ways, but the moment I put my pen to paper, wonders started to happen and I surprise myself.
This list is most important for my self-discovery and self-value. It’s natural to go through life on autopilot and let life run between your fingers. When I realized this, I felt indescribable distress, emptiness, tearfulness, smallness, good-for-nothingness, and laziness. I began to write this list often, then I began to pay attention to it, and then I simply started to do things on the list.
Now whenever I feel that bad mood creeping up behind me, I reach for my list. My rescue list. And voila, I can choose any happiness booster I want, and they’re all right there in front of me in blue and white.
I write all my lists by hand in my journal, and occasionally in the extra section of my daily planner so I can revisit them anytime. What comes from my mind, through my hand, and onto paper has big power for me. Maybe you will feel this power as well, that big and personal power, when you create your lists by hand.
Working with journals and these lists throughout the years has become an inseparable part of my personal growth, so if you enjoy these lists, keep writing!
Happy New Year! Let it be as we wish and let’s have fun!
Translation with the help of Ellie Farrier