In a few days, we will turn the page on 2017 and prepare for the ‘Happy New Year’ that is wished for us in almost every encounter.
There is something special about a new year. The past is gone. A clean slate opens. It’s a time to anticipate fresh opportunities.
A ‘Happy New Year’ won’t come about by chance. We need an idea of what we want from the new year. It may be an idealistic best-case scenario about the future. It may be pure relief that a difficult year has ended.
To a large extent, the choices we make will shape how the year unfolds. We can make behavioural changes; we can choose to improve relationships; we can make changes in our environment. If finances are a challenge, steps can be taken to get into financial shape. Small choices to improve happiness will ensure a ‘Happy New Year’.
Evaluate the Past Year
Meeting the ‘Happy New Year’ expectation requires some level of preparation. The precious days between Christmas and the New year are an excellent time to evaluate what happened in the past year and to make plans.
A lot can happen in a year. After the hubbub of feasting and gifting and visiting taking some time for quiet reflection gives perspective. It’s a time to pause and listen to inner thoughts, a time to dream, a time to assess, and a time to plan.
Perhaps 2017 was a banner year of achievement when opportunities turned into success. Mistakes did not deter plans nor cause a change of course. Unexpected doors opened.
Unanticipated life events may have brought changes. There may have been setbacks in health or finances. Many readers lost family members or friends. Many others faced a change in relationships.
Taking time at the end of the year to understand how events of 2017 make sense in your life story brings perspective. The inner voice is essential in evaluating experiences. Taking time to honour feelings about how life is proceeding often brings new insights.
The review of 2017 allows themes and ideas to emerge, thus setting the stage for a new narrative for the ‘Happy New Year’.
Plan for Success for a ‘Happy New Year’
For some, the new year means resolutions such as losing weight or exercising regularly. I stopped the resolution game many years ago but I do make plans for what I want to accomplish with every new year. Taking time for mental preparation before January 1 allows the unconscious to creatively get ready for a change.
As I visualize my plans and goals, I think about what success will feel like. Sometimes I choose a word for the year or a short mantra to help focus my intentions. In 2016, I used ‘purpose’ to help me focus on downsizing and clearing clutter; in 2017 it was ‘year of change’ to strengthen the life changes I faced after moving. Sometimes I change passwords to reinforce my commitment to the word of the year whenever I sign into favourite web pages!
Success happens when you pick one thing that’s important and make changes in small increments. If your intention involves learning something new, decide if you need to enrol in a continuing education class or pursue formal lessons. If you are already time-stressed but want to add a new hobby or activity, what will you give up to make time to succeed with a new project?
My plan for 2018 involves making a time and place for writing. Since retirement, I’ve been successful in developing good habits around exercise, nutrition, and sleep. After moving in 2016, my writing routines are inconsistent. Sometimes I write for hours in the evening; sometimes early morning times bring on a burst of creativity. My plan involves setting a regular schedule for writing and designating a specific location for writing. Just as when I began a regular exercise program, I’ll use repetition and consistency to train my brain and reinforce the writing habit.
Anticipate Pitfalls for a ‘Happy New Year’
Sometimes an external event forces a change of routine. Plans need adjustment. Goals such as exercise or time for writing are set aside for a period of time. As I write this section I wonder how I’ll feel when life interferes and leaves no time for my writing projects?
Most writing involves research, thinking, and time in front of a screen. Social media distractions present a hazard. The sense of accomplishment when a blog post is published is a delayed reward but usually, this satisfaction comes only after hard work.
When difficulties and problems cause setbacks, it’s tempting to abandon plans for a ‘Happy New Year’. This often happens when writing feels arduous and frustrating. When this happens, I’ll remember that it’s important to allow time for new habits to be internalized. Repetition over a period of weeks and months is often necessary.
Sometimes, re-evaluation and redefinition are valuable when setbacks are encountered. Perhaps a plan was unrealistic or a goal was too big. Perhaps the time commitment interfered with family life. Perhaps a life event caused a temporary postponement.
Creating a ‘Happy New Year’ involves making choices. There are many different ways to have the ‘Happy New Year’. My wish for every reader is that you find your way to a truly ‘Happy New Year’.
Below you can enjoy previous postworksavvy posts related to beginning a new year.