The new year brings lots of opportunities for new challenges, new successes, and new learning experiences. But how to organize your thoughts about how to approach all of these new experiences? I like to start my year by reflecting back on my old one. What went well for me? What did not go so well for me? How did I grow? What are areas that have room for improvement? I like to ask myself the questions above, but reflecting on any aspects of your past year is a good start. It’s helpful for me to write these thoughts down, in a journal, or on a scrap of paper, on my phone, anywhere! Writing helps organize my ideas and lays them out for me visually.
I also like to think about where I have been before I think about where I would like to go. I consider different categories of goals, both personal goals like flossing or reading more, and then something beyond myself, like maybe volunteering, finding an internship, spending more time with my family. You might also think about using the momentum of a new year to start your own organization for a cause about which you feel passionate. If you’ve noticed a particular habit about yourself that you’d like to change, phrase the change in a positive way. For example, if you would like form healthier habits, think “Exercise more to feel healthy” as opposed to “Exercise more to avoid being fat”. How we talk to ourselves can a have a huge impact on the outcomes of our goals, so the more positivity you can shower in yourself the better.
An exercise that I like is to pick a word that is my motto and personal code word of inspiration for the year. For 2015 the word was “bold” so that I wouldn’t shrink away from making big decisions and from taking risks in my life. For 2016 my word is “surety” so that I can be reminded to have confidence in myself and that I surely know myself. I find it simpler to have a words as a guiding ideas instead of a laundry list of resolutions. It’s easier to remember and it feels less like a chore.
The ideas I mentioned above may help you find that passion and motivation, but ultimately if you take the time to connect with yourself in any way that works for you, you will find out what your true priorities are. Then once you know what they are, save them in some way that you will remember them, whether it’s a song, a piece of writing, an image, a dance—whatever speaks to you! With any goal, priority, or resolution passion and commitment are key. If you try to work towards something you don’t care about, you probably won’t see much change. But if you can check in with yourself and be honest about your aspirations for the year, you can identify many things about which you are really excited to work towards, and then make a plan to see your goals through to success.