As the end of the year approaches, it’s a time for celebration. It’s also a great time for reflection. Traditionally it’s a time for visualizing what we want to accomplish in the New Year and creating those infamous resolutions.
All too often, what starts out as a positive exercise in forward thinking, becomes an energy draining exercise in agonizing over past failures. How many times have we tried and failed to make these same changes? This year, why not try something a little different? How about shifting your focus from what you didn’t do, to what you actually did do and start building from there?
Many people have a hard time giving themselves credit for what’s working in their lives. We are so in the habit of beating ourselves up and blaming ourselves for what’s not right and what’s not working.
All that negativity requires a huge amount of energy. It tires us out, drains us of joy, and blocks out any sense of hope and well being for the future. It completely obscures a great deal of the good we have going for us.
Here is a seven-step process you can follow to support you in beginning this New Year with a joyous new attitude.
1) Make a list of all the things you did right last year. Think about all the things you are proud of, all the areas where you moved forward in your life, even in small ways. List the things you are grateful for about your life and how you contribute to those around you.
Add to your list what you appreciate about the many things you have accomplished and how they have positively impacted your life. Congratulate yourself for these noteworthy accomplishments. We get caught up in focusing on what we failed to accomplish and often forget to give ourselves credit for the many more things that we did check off our list!
3) Take inventory of your negative thoughts and feelings. What are you hanging on to that is draining your energy? What resentments are you holding? What are you angry about? Who are you angry with? What are you angry with yourself about? What are your regrets? Write down all the specific negative emotions you can identify on as many pieces of paper as it takes.
4) Make a conscious choice to release these negative emotions. Declare your intention with clarity of conviction by stating out loud, “I release my anger, resentments and regrets. I forgive myself, and others, for our past mistakes and imperfections. I open my heart to a more positive outlook on life”
5) Solidify your resolve by conducting a “burning bowl” ritual. If you have a safe (and legal) place to light a fire, you can toss the pages of thoughts and feelings you wish to release into the fire; watch all that negativity shrivel up and turn to ash. Otherwise you can tear your pages up into little pieces and toss them in the trash. Better yet, slide each sheet of paper into a shredder and enjoy the sound of your negativity being sliced and diced into unrecognizable bits of confetti.
6) Decide how you’d like to feel about yourself, your life and the people around you. Sometimes we are mightily attached to our negativity and after such a release it might feel a little awkward. That’s because nature abhors a void. The next step is to fill that void with positive thoughts about your life and positive feelings of anticipation for a new start in your new year. Notice how you feel just thinking about your life in this new way.
7) Create an energizing life plan. Instead of making a laundry list of New Year’s Resolutions, spend some time taking a broader view. What kind of quality of life would energize you? How can you create more time for the things you value the most; what things can you say “no” to? What do you want to do to take care of yourself that would be nurturing and soul satisfying? What could you do to bring more intimacy or sense of connection to your important relationships? What things could you make a part of your life next year that would create more satisfaction, balance and well being? Take a holistic view of your life and create a written plan that will energize you to take action.
Answering the questions and doing the activities outlined in this seven-step process will guide you to make changes from the heart. Changes that come from a place of heart-felt desire, along with clarity of your desired outcome in terms of the quality of life you are seeking, will naturally give you greater momentum for success than changes motivated by harsh recriminations.
As you enter the New Year, treat yourself with kindness, acknowledge and celebrate the good in your life and the important things you have accomplished, let go of negativity, and enjoy your new year with a new attitude!