How to Get the Most Out of Your New Year

I don’t do new year resolutions. I’m not convinced of their effectiveness. However, what I do love to do, as one year ends and a new one begins, is to reflect back and dream forward. Maybe you’d like to do that too?

Amidst the busyness of the holiday season, I make some time and space for myself to sit quietly on my own for a moment. I use this time to first reflect on how the past year has been for me; and then I look toward the upcoming new year and decide what it is I’d like to create in my life. I always find this exercise highly enlightening.

Noticing where we’ve been and where we’re headed
For many of us, it is not often that we allow ourselves to stop long enough to really notice where we’ve been and where we’re going. When we do, we often see things about ourselves that we would otherwise take for granted. We can miss some important stuff in our lives through simply being too busy to stop and take it in. Achievements can go unacknowledged, as we quickly move on to the next thing to do. We are also more likely to find ourselves down a life path that we didn’t consciously choose for ourselves, simply because we forgot to stop for a moment and check in with what it is that we truly want.

Doing this exercise makes us more conscious and aware of ourselves and our own lives. We get to stop and enjoy our achievements and reflect on how we have come through those tough times. It gives us the opportunity to create something new for our future – to dream a little, and then see where that takes us.

What would you like more of in your life? What would you like less of? What happened in the past year that you would never have imagined?

Reflection Exercise
You can do this exercise on your own, or sometimes it’s nice to do side-by-side with others. Allocate some time when you can sit quietly. Somewhere relaxing and without distractions is good – at home, in a park, or at a nice café. You’ll need a pen and some paper to write down your answers, maybe a nice cup of tea and a comfy chair – whatever works for you.

First, we reflect on the year that’s just been:
To get yourself right here, in the moment, you might like to take a couple of long, slow, deep breaths in and out; and feel your body on the chair/bed/grass/floor.

What was the best thing that happened for you in the past year?
What was the most difficult or challenging thing?
What surprised you this year?
Choose three words that describe the year for you.
Who were you most connected to this year?
What was the most significant thing you learned this year?
What are you most proud of from this year?
Where did you go this year that was completely new for you?
What are you most thankful for this year?
What did you create this year?
What were some favourite moments?
What did you worry about that never eventuated?
What was on your mind the most?
What (or who) did you neglect that is important to you?
Is there anything you’ve left unspoken, that you’d like to say to someone?
In what ways have you grown or changed this year?
Which things, people or activities contributed most to you sense of wellbeing this year?
When did you feel the most alive?
What goal(s) did you plant seeds for this year?
Is there anything else you’d like to add about the year you’ve just had?

Questions for looking forward to the new year:
What new things would you like in your life?
What would you like to learn in the new year?
Who would you like to spend more time with this coming year?
What would you like your daily life to be like?
What small things can you add to your life to improve your enjoyment (such as watching sunsets, spending more time in nature, reading books, connecting with people…)?
What would you like to create this year?
What would you like to do more of?
What would you like to do less of?
What would you like to do differently to last year?
In what ways would you like to contribute to others?
What could you do this year that would involve stepping outside your comfort zone to better your life in some way?
What would you like to achieve with your work?
What is your biggest goal for the year?
How will you look after your: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing this year?
What else is important to you that hasn’t been covered in the above questions? Some areas of life to consider are:
• Relationships
• Health
• Wellbeing
• Work
• Dreams
• Creativity
• Interests
• Relaxation
• Magic moments

Now that you’ve completed the exercise, read over what you’ve written and see if anything else comes up for you. Is there anything you’d like to add or change? What stands out for you the most? Take a few slow, deep breaths and notice how you feel.

Once you feel you’ve completed the exercise, maybe you’d like to put your answers somewhere that you can read them again later. You might like to pin them into the middle of your diary, so that you can reflect on them again in six months time. At the end of this new year, it might be interesting to check back again with what you’ve written, to see how your reality compared to what you wrote.

Congratulations for taking some time for yourself; and best wishes for the new year!

*If you decide to do this exercise, I’d love to hear how you go with it! Did you add any questions? What did you get out of it?

To make an appointment with Toni Jackson for counselling & psychotherapy, please contact her on: 0439 995 302 or toni@tonijacksoncounselling.com

For more information: tonijacksoncounselling.com

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