The New Year can bring up feelings of hope, wonder, pride – and also guilt, regret, and disappointment. This cocktail of emotions is normal – but how do you make sure you learn from all of those feelings, so you can prepare for a new and improved New Year?
In order to set yourself up for the best possible year to come, your goal (like most of us) is probably to create more feelings of excitement and joy, and less of sadness and regret. To create that for yourself, you must hone in on the highs and lows, so you can direct your year, instead of just having it direct you.
All of this means – it’s a wonderful time of year to reflect.
Designing Your New Year
What fresh intentions, activities, habits, and ideas do you have for yourself in the New Year? And what worn-out pieces of your life do you need to let go of in order to create the space and energy for something new? The New Year is a great time to release unhelpful patterns, habits, hobbies, and relationships in your life, and replace them with something better. Let’s step into a meditation practice to see what we can discover.
New Year’s Meditation
I invite you to grab a journal or some blank paper and move into a comfortable seat for this New Year’s meditation practice. Set your journal aside nearby so it’s easily accessible if you wish to take notes on what may have surfaced during your meditation.
- Sit up tall, gently close your eyes, and begin to slow down your breathing. Take 5 slow, deep breaths, in and out through your nose as you begin to settle your mind.
- Start by just taking notice of where you are at the moment – scanning your body and mind for information. Notice how you feel physically and mentally, and then begin to observe your thoughts in a neutral, non-judgmental way as they come and go.
- Now begin to re-play through the year in your mind, slowly, as if you were watching a movie reel of highs, lows, and big and small moments from your year.
- Start with New Year’s, and move through the year month by month, recalling people, moments, emotions, activities, details, mistakes, highlights — all of it. Just play through these memories from the year little by little in your mind as they come to you and watch them like a recap of all that happened. Stay with each moment for a while before moving onto the next.
- When you reach the end of December, finish the movie reel of the year and notice how you feel.
- Now, begin to settle your attention on your biggest challenge from this year. In what ways did this experience, person, or situation challenge you? What would you have done differently, given the opportunity to repeat this experience? What did you learn from this experience, and what intention can you make for next year, with this lesson in mind?
- Now, begin to settle your attention on your favorite moment from the last year. Hold it at the center of your mind and take it in through all of your senses. Really replay this moment in your mind’s eye. Try to take that feeling into all of your cells, with your entire mind and heart, and really feel that state you were in, when you were living through this favorite moment. Don’t rush this part — recall how your body felt, what your mind state was, what your energy felt like. Recall any colors, images, and sensations. What did it smell like? Taste like?
- As you bring your attention to this positive memory, identify what feelings this experience carried with it. Create the intention to integrate more of these feelings into the coming year in various ways. What do you need to do to actually experience more feelings like these in your life? What is in your control? Who can help set you up for success?
- Stay with it for another minute, and then slowly transition your mind back into the present moment by bringing your awareness back to your breath. Deep inhales and slow exhales.
- Take a moment before you open your eyes.
Re-connecting with your highs and lows from the year is a great way to identify the types of feelings you want more of – or do not want – in your life.
New Year’s Journaling Exercise
Writing down your musings helps to re-enforce any learning that comes with reflection. Take five minutes or two hours to put your thoughts on paper. You can write in an unstructured way or respond to the questions below. Quietly reflecting on your year, ask yourself:
- What mattered most to me this year? How can I spend more time and energy on this next year?
- What highlights and favorite moments stand out as experiences I want to recreate? Why?
- What relationships were most meaningful?
- List the things I was proud of in the last year.
- List the things that made me smile and laugh.
- List the things I regret, and why.
- Identify moments or activities that made me lose track of time.
Take a look at what you’ve written so far. Given your responses, list all of the things you’d like to create, feel, achieve, and plan for next year.
When you tune into all that mattered to you over the last year – the little things that mattered and the giant things that mattered – you begin to get clear on how you want to spend your time in the future. Use your reflections from your past year to catalyze positive changes in your upcoming year – to elevate your world in the ways that are most important to you.
If you want to design the best year of your life, schedule a free coaching consultation to find out how coaching can help you reach your goals.