I love this time of year when the calendar provides a fresh clean slate. Snow falls softly outside my window, the house is quiet, and I am in a reflective mood. I take a look backward at the previous year and evaluate how I spent my time, focus and energy. Then I “archive” it. After putting the past year to bed, I imagine forward into the new year and make note of sparkling new intentions and plans.
You may have noted that I haven’t mentioned the word “resolutions”. For me, that word feels too absolute, confining and final. I like flexibility. I relish the freedom to change my mind about things, and I do change my mind, often. This said, I do like brainstorming, analyzing my options, and setting a course. Without a roadmap, I feel wishy-washy and ineffective. But I need the freedom to detour because I know that if I DON’T WANT to do something, I will procrastinate endlessly, it won’t get done, and I’ll feel crappy about it. On the flip side, when I DO want to do something, I jump in with both feet and get ‘er done. I’ve learned to set my course with intention, then go with the flow.
Here are some questions I like to address this time of year:
What were the highlights of 2009? Create a collage to celebrate and remember. These are the memories you want to carry forward into the new year. Use them as momentum for more.
Lowlights? If this list feels like a dark cloud or is full of disappointments, ceremoniously burn the list after it’s done. You are encouraged to start the new year without this baggage!
Did I accomplish what I intended? If no, why not? Be wary of excuses that hide the truth. For me, excuses usually mean I changed my mind, or didn’t want to do it bad enough. Sometimes it’s because I feared I wouldn’t do it good enough.
What would make me happier? Be concrete and start small: “I want to save money” isn’t nearly as effective as “I will set up an automatic bank transfer from my checking to savings account, every payday, for $100.”
What established habits do I want to keep? Stop?
What do I want to do each and every day for the next 30 days? This time period allows me the opportunity to establish a new habit without feeling confined by it. If I still value this new habit after 30 days, I renew my commitment.
What items do I want to cross off my task list this year?
What would my ideal day look like? Imagine anything is possible. Address every moment: from waking through bedtime, the environment, your relationships, the activities, your emotions.
What news do I want to share in next year’s holiday letter? This is where I address the specific accomplishments I hope to achieve by year’s end. Be specific, and write the letter in present tense, as if it were already true.
Readers, do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Why or why not?
Note: One of my new “each and every day for the next 30 days I will…” commitments is to write for my blog or book every day for at least 20 minutes. Please help me with this endeavor by letting me know (via the comments section or private email) what you’d like me to address. I welcome specific questions.