As the year draws to a close and a new year is upon us, many of us set new year’s resolutions for the things we will do better next time. For years, my resolutions came from a place of guilt: I must hit the gym and lose 10 pounds! I promise to call my mother more often! I’ll finally get around to doing that gratitude practice, I swear! And starting off the year with the attitude, “I didn’t quite get it right last year, but this year I’ll try harder” wasn’t a very healthy way to fill in my blank slate.
Of course, the new year is not an actual blank slate, but it is a great opportunity to pause, reflect, give thanks, and set new intentions. So, I created a new tradition with my family and friends, and now on New Year’s Eve every year we ask these 4 questions. I invite you to join us. It’s fun to share your answers in a circle (and kids can participate too!) but you can also do this inquiry on your own.
1. What positive shifts happened in your life this past year?
This is the time to pat yourself on the back. Celebrate your wins, your gains, your triumphs. What are you proud of? Grateful for? Excited about? Don’t hold back. It’s important to congratulate yourself and honor your successes. If you are sharing this process with loved ones, celebrate their wins as well. Clap and cheer for them, no matter how big or small their positive shifts may be.
2. What do you wish had been different?
This is not a time to wallow in sorrow, but rather a time to provide an honest reflection on what was hard for you this year. Recognizing what didn’t feel good, what didn’t go as you’d hoped, and what you wish had been different, gives birth to your new desires. If we never knew hard times, we’d never realize how sweet the good times are. Acknowledge the difficulties that helped you grow this year.
3. What are you ready to release as the year comes to an end?
Take this opportunity to say goodbye to whatever has been holding you back. This might be fear, worry, guilt, or a feeling of lack. It could be a job you are unhappy with, a toxic relationship, or a health issue you want to be free from. Declare that you are releasing these things with the close of the year. You can thank them for the lessons, but say, “thank you and goodbye – you are no longer serving me.”
4. What are you welcoming into your life in the coming year?
Write your intentions for the new year on a piece of paper. This is not a list of resolutions, but rather a vision of your coming year and how you see it unfolding perfectly. It can be in the form of a list, a paragraph (or several), or perhaps you’d like to draw a picture. Do you want to welcome more clarity into your life? More laughter? Better health? A new job? When you are complete, seal this piece of paper in an envelope and keep it in a safe place until the next New Year’s Eve. One year from now, open it up and reflect. These envelopes are also fun to keep and look back at many years from now. I recently found one from 5 years ago and was so pleased to see that all of my intentions came true, and then some.
New years, like birthdays or other milestones on the calendar, are a wonderful time to make a change. Often, the most powerful change we can make is an internal shift, such as a shift from fear to excited anticipation, or from despair to hope. This year, let your resolutions be intentions set with purposeful vision, rather than guilt-fueled promises based on regret.
Kaia Roman is an entrepreneur and public relations consultant who focuses on the planning and implementation of communications strategies for people, projects, and products working towards a better world. From moving to an eco-commune at age 7 to being trained as a mind-body therapist at age 11, to creating the first college major in Sustainable Living in the U.S. and co-authoring the first book ever published on biodiesel fuel at age 22, Kaia’s life has been anything but ordinary. She has been the publicist for rock stars, shamans, and scientists, launched multiple companies, produced music festivals, served on many non-profit Boards, and been a guest on the Today Show. Kaia has lived in several countries, practiced yoga in India, studied nutrition and constitutional medicine, and hitchhiked and surfed her way around the world. However, her greatest accomplishment and life adventure are that of motherhood; Kaia has two magical daughters and has been married to her wonderful husband Dan since 2003. She can be reached at www.kaiaroman.com.