The beginning of the year always marks a special transition period. While I don’t believe in waiting for January 1st to begin working on things that really matter to you, I do believe in allowing a new year to take hold. This year is the beginning of a new decade. It’s a good time to gently transition into the sense of newness.
When approaching a new year from a self-care standpoint, there are several ways to transition. Today, I’d like to share some of my favorites.
Allow yourself to have a slow last week of December
Life picks up in the last 3 months of the year. It’s a busy period of time where we try to cram everything in that we feel we’ve missed in the last 9 months. It’s a time to push ourselves to accomplish the yearly dreams. Added to that are major holidays that each have the sense of business around them.
What would happen if for the last week of the year, you decided to only do what is mandatory? You took a vacation from things that didn’t serve you or weren’t on your absolute must do list?
My guess (based on my personal experience) is that the world wouldn’t end. My guess is that life could slow down enough to rest and reflect. To analyze what did or did not work this year. To plan the next year and make final decisions on what is crucial for the next year.
When these things are looked out without a lot of fatigue surrounding it, better decisions are made. We become clearer on what we want.
So, set the last week of the year aside. You don’t have to go anywhere fancy or do anything extra special. If you just set aside enough time to rest, everything will begin to feel calmer. A calm, focused, and clear mind is the best thing to start the new year with.
Review the Vision Board and Remove One Thing
Recently, there has been a surge of stories about quitting the New Year’s Resolutions. I’m in the camp for going an alternative route. However, I am not against the idea of setting goals for the next year.
However, what often happens when we begin to look at the various aspects of our lives is that we begin to see multiple things that we want to change or set new goals for. While in the short term, this might look like a good way to go about getting focused, by the end of the new year, it will likely burn us out.
The more directions we identify going in for the new year the more we feel pulled. While it is possible to work on up to 3 things over the course of the year, it would less stressful to identify one.
If it’s not possible to go down to one overaraching goal for the year, it is possible to remove at least one thing from the list. Make more space to focus on what matters by letting go of the non-essential.
Participate in a Meaningful Tradition
Whether the tradition is choosing a word of the year, getting hot cocoa with a girlfriend on December 31st or writing a letter to you at the end of the next year. Maybe that tradition is writing a list of 21 Things to Do Before 21 or a list of 52 Things to Do Before the Next Year.
All of these traditions serve as a bookmark. The ending of one year and the beginning of another. They allow for reflection and energize us for the year ahead. They cause us to stop and think.
Make time this year either on the 31st or right before it, to participate in your tradition or to start a new one. It will foster more gratitude for the year that has passed and help to feel more hopeful about the year ahead.
Reflect on What Has Gone Before
Get out that journal and write about 2019. Some of my favorite questions to ask myself at the end of the year:
What am I most proud of?
What would I have done differently?
What was my word of the year and what did I learn from it?
Who really helped me grow this year: as a person, as an employee, as a writer?
What was the best and worst moments of my year?
Who am I most grateful for?
What are my Top 10 Memories for 2019?
How did I change this year?
What is my favorite lesson?
What do I need to let go of before 2020?
What am I looking forward to most in 2020?
What do I want to say to myself a year from now?
This is always a good step in letting go of what has gone before. There are things that are better left in 2019: negativity, patterns of self-talk, people who have hurt us, and mistakes that have cost us. Take the time to journal these out and forgive yourself and others if you need to. Get the gunk out of your system before the new year.
What Do You Need?
I end with this question, but it is perhaps the most important. I think that we all have our own ways to relax, recharge and find our center.
I’m an introvert, so many times my way to recharge is to just give myself time to do nothing or daydream. Time alone is what recharges me. I love candlelight, meditation and asking my own heart what she knows about that point in my life.
My personal end of the year practice revolves around this. After journaling, I take the time to let my heart speak to me. I ask a lot of questions about the year ahead. I go through my own simplicity ritual.
However, my way of doing things is not everyone’s. My guess is that you already know what you need at this point in the year. You already know what you need to let go of from this year and how you let go best. Self-love helps us to identify what practices serve us. What do you need most at this time of the year and are you denying yourself the opportunity to have it? Why?
Following these five ways to gently transition into the New Year will help to both clear your heart and mind from 2019 and set the stage for a fresh start on January 1st. The most important thing is to follow your own heart and give yourself what you need within the next two weeks. However, reflection helps as does giving yourself grace on your goals for this year and the next one. Happy New Year!