Stepping into the New Year

It’s that time of year again! Where everyone has an opinion on how to best reflect on the past year and look to the year ahead.  Some say setting resolutions is a shitty idea and only serves to set you up for failure. Others say reflecting on the year behind is just another opportunity to feel bad about yourself. Then there are those who say “set intentions instead of goals” because intentions are so much more powerful! However you want to look at it, this time of year is definitely conducive to reflection and looking ahead. I personally love it!

2016 has been a year of ups and downs and I’m sure you can relate! I love resolutions and goal setting as it gives me direction and focus. If I don’t know where I’m going, I often get lost in the paradox of choice. I end up wasting precious energy deciding what to do with each day, each week, each month. Without a continuously structured and updated plan I flounder. If I don’t set goals I just end up with more of the same. I have learned overtime that goals are my friend and that I need to continually revisit and revise them. I like to look at what worked and what didn’t and make plans accordingly.

What worked well for you this past year?

For me, ending my long time love affair with vodka and tequila in early 2016 was a major win. Though it’s not always easy, the benefits outweigh the struggles and I plan to stick with this in the New Year. My intense focus on my marriage this year has also allowed me to cultivate a stronger partnership with a love that continues to deepen. I will definitely continue to make my marriage a priority! I also started a Ph.D. program that excites and challenges me. I look forward to all that it brings in 2017.

Take a moment to reflect on what worked for you in 2016. Decide whether it is worth continuing in the New Year. Perhaps what worked has run its course, or perhaps it needs your continued attention and focus.

What didn’t work well this past year?

In 2016 (and 2015, and 2014….) I struggled with maintaining consistent routines and rituals. As a result, my well-being often suffered because I started out many days on auto-pilot without taking time to intentionally start my day. Without the structure of routines and rituals a lot of my days were haphazard and filled with endless distractions. Routines and goals keep me productive!

In 2017 I am going to commit to an intentional start and finish to my day. Allowing for flexibility and variety within this, because I know this is how my brain works! If I take this into consideration, it will aid in my success when it comes to implementing this goal. I’ve looked at why I’ve failed in the past at this, and have a better plan this year to set myself up for success.

Some advice I would offer is to not use this question as an opportunity to feel bad about yourself. If 2016 was a doozy…big fucking deal. It doesn’t mean anything about who you are as a person. We all have shitty years. It’s guaranteed in this thing called life. Don’t use this question to ruminate on all of the bad, rather use it as neutral information to help you move forward. Our biggest challenges often turn out to be major blessings in disguise.

Take a moment to reflect on what didn’t work for you in 2016. What steps can you take to transform what didn’t work in the upcoming year?

What emotions predominated your life this past year?

I love Danielle LaPorte’s book, The Desire Map. In this book she talks about defining how you want to feel and consciously cultivating those feelings. While we can’t control our emotions, we can pinpoint how it is we would like to feel and take steps to cultivate those feelings more often. We can bring more intention to feeling our emotions and transforming them. How I would like to feel in 2017 is: bold, turned-on, strong, and creative.

How do you want to feel in 2017? Name 3-5 feelings that you would like to cultivate more often. What steps (or step) can you take to feel these feelings more often in the coming year?

The problem many of us run into when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions is that we set ourselves up for failure by trying to go too big. Or we set goals that go against our tendencies and recurrent behavioral patterns. We have to work with these tendencies and work around them. For example, I have struggled with routine because a part of me hates routine. However, at the same time, I know that I thrive when I have it. So I need to create something that allows for flexibility and variety. So rather than saying “I will do x,y, and z every morning,” instead, I will give myself options and choose to complete 1-3 of those options. I’m going to start small!

If you have failed at New Year’s Resolutions in the past, give starting small a try this year.

Small changes often lead to big changes down the road. If your goal this year is to get in shape, commit to just one push-up a day. Want to have a regular meditation practice? Commit to one minute a day, or even to just one conscious, mindful breath a day. It sounds silly, but in committing to such a small endeavor you are cultivating a powerful habit that will lead to lasting change. Plus, you will feel great about yourself because you are committing to something that you can achieve! Every great accomplishment starts with the first step.

I’m wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year! And remember, start small, start with step one. I’ll be right there with you. A win is a win regardless of how big or small.