I always love the new year, it feels like a fresh start and an opportunity to make the upcoming year even better than the year before. Because of this sense of renewal, New Year’s Eve is definitely one of my favorite holidays. I don’t spend it out celebrating. Instead, I choose to spend New Year’s Eve in quiet reflection, looking back at the previous year and planning for the new year. Over time, I have compiled a process for reflection and have found the process to be invaluable. Here are four simple exercises followed by a reminder to celebrate your year:
1. Take A Look Back
Take a look back at your calendar or day planner and make a list of all the significant events by month: family get-togethers, vacations, graduations, accomplishments, challenges events, and fun times. Add any significant events to your calendar that might be missing. This will help you with step two and will also give you a good overview of the highlights from your year.
2. Acknowledge Your Accomplishments
Before you start making a list of goals or resolutions for 2014, take a few minutes and acknowledge all that you’ve accomplished in 2013. Make a list of at least 25 things you accomplished. Coming up with the first five or ten things isn’t usually too difficult. But when you get to 20, this gets a little more challenging. Keep going though! You’ve accomplished a lot in 2013. Give yourself credit for all of your accomplishments, big or small.
Some things you might want to include: projects you completed, celebrations you facilitated or took part in, family events you scheduled, taking care of your health by completing doctor or dental visits, thoughtful things you did for others, new hobbies or sports you started, fears you overcame, challenges or roadblocks you surmounted, supporting someone else through their challenge or roadblock, paying off debt, eating healthier, starting a gratitude practice, or donating time or money to a worthwhile cause.
2013 was a big year for me. A few of my accomplishments in 2013 include:
- Marrying my true love and best friend and doing it in a uniting wedding experience with our children
- Going back to school for my master’s degree (something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time)
- Speaking at a national healthcare leadership conference
- Strengthening the bond with my daughter and creating many special memories with her
- Learning to become a nana and step-mom and creating a new family
- Continuing my yoga practice
- Adding new healthy habits including juicing, eating a lot more vegetables, and drinking more water
- Working with a coach to add additional clarity and focus to my business for 2014
3. Prepare to Leave Some Things Behind
While you can feel grateful for all the experiences you had in 2013, you can also make a conscious choice to leave things behind as you move into the new year. You don’t have to carry any unwanted baggage forward, now is the time to drop it off. Make a list of the things, feelings, negative experiences, or possibly negative people that you don’t want to carry forward into your 2014 life.
Some examples of things you might include are angry feelings toward someone, feelings of jealousy or resentment, self-critical thoughts about your weight or your situation, traumatic experiences, overspending, procrastination, bad habits, or fears. Prepare to leave those things behind. Whether you just make a mental note to leave these things behind, crinkle up and shred a physical list, or have a mini burning bowl ceremony, let go of the negativity. It will make room for more love and beauty in your life in 2014.
4. Feel Gratitude
Whether 2013 was a great year or one of your most difficult, feel gratitude. You made it through, learned new things, and became the beautiful and amazing person you are today. Take time to feel gratitude for all that 2013 brought – the people in your life, the opportunities and victories you enjoyed, and the lessons learned. Allow yourself to feel gratitude, feel love. These are the things you want to have more of in 2014.
“The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings. ” ~Ralph Blum
5. Celebrate Your 2013
Before you begin the new year’s celebrations, celebrate 2013 and the person you have become because of it. Find your own unique way to celebrate the year as it ends. Maybe you’ll have a pot of really good green tea, a glass of champagne, a spa day, a special lunch with a friend or loved one, or just a moment of quiet reflection. Whatever works best for you, find it and celebrate your 2013.
“New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.” ~Charles Lamb
This year, I will be spending a quiet and reflective New Year’s Eve with my husband overlooking the ocean on the Oregon Coast. How will you spend your New Year’s Eve? What were some of your accomplishments? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.