The New Year is well on its way, the festive decorations have been packed away, and you are running out of excuses. Time to ‘fess up: Have you closed off 2016 and set your goals for 2017 yet?
If your answer is a resounding: “no”, or a slightly less resounding “not entirely”, don’t worry, it’s not too late. We’re not even ten days into the new year after all. You could of course argue, that a new year is a somewhat random point for the process I’m suggesting, but if you consider that much of our world is organised around the calendar and around years, it does make sense to align yourself with this rhythm.
No matter when you choose to do this, it’s important to occasionally review your life, close off what you’ve left behind, and plan your next steps. It’s what keeps you aware and conscious, “online” as I call it, and engaged in your life. In the following, I’ll give you a process for doing this; it’s a ceremony I do at the end of every year.
Closing off 2016
Many people have nothing but complaints about the year we’ve just left behind. I say, there was good as well as bad, and in any case it is important to formally finish what needs to be closed, and draw a clean line, so you can move forward unburdened. I have developed a little ritual for this process. Here are the steps.
- First, take some time, maybe half an hour, when you’ll be undisturbed and undistracted. Keep some paper or a notebook ready, and a pen.
- Set the scene: get comfortable, maybe get a cup of coffee or tea, light a candle if you like.
- Think back over 2016, month by month. If necessary, take out your calendar as reference. On a piece of paper, write down everything that didn’t go so well in the year past. Disappointments, failures, illness, personal heartache (family troubles or a relationship break-up), other hardship, or simply a bad mood, sadness, or lack of motivation.
- Take your time with this step. Look over your list, and if necessary, experience the emotions associated once more. Cry if you have to, say angry words you feel you need to say. Then when you feel at peace and ready to move on, tear up the list and burn it (don’t set the house on fire, please! The sink is usually a good place to burn a paper safely).
- Now remember all the good things that happened. Achievements, new projects, love, good times spent with your friends or family, success, happiness, well-being, arts and crafts, your hobbies and passions. Write them all down.
- Now look over your list and take time to fully experience the emotions associated with each item. Feel yourself flooded with gratitude. If it feels right, say aloud words of thanks to the universe or God or whatever you believe in.
- Finally, determine which projects or goals you wish to carry forward into 2017. Write these down on a separate piece of paper.
- Say: “Thank you for all the experiences and lessons. I am now ready to move on into 2017.”
Setting yourself up for 2017
Now it’s time to create your joyful, passion-filled 2017! Are you ready? Here are some helpful steps. For a more detailed guide, refer to your One-Year Goals Workbook and the Goals Worksheet (if you need another copy, email me and I’ll send you one).
- First, determine where your intentions are for this year. Is there any particular area of your life you wish to focus on? You can pick more than one, but I’d recommend limiting the focus to about two areas in any one year. This might be health, business, finances, family, hobbies, passions…
- Now pull out the paper where you wrote the goals and projects you wish to carry over from the previous year.
- Add goals for each area of your life, with particular emphasis on the areas you’ve decided to focus on.
- Determine a first step for each goal. It can be a small step, something seemingly insignificant, like googling art schools if your goal is to do a course, etc.
- Schedule your first steps for the following three days. It is absolutely vital to actually complete these first steps within three days, as psychologists have found out. After this period, it becomes increasingly unlikely that you’ll take the step at all.
Once you’ve done all this, reward yourself. It could be a night-out or a special Self-Care session, and it doesn’t have to cost money. You have set yourself up for all possible success in 2017; all that’s left is to follow through and revise your goals regularly.
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