Goodbye and Hello

Well, Folks - we made it. For better or for worse (hopefully better!) Christmas has come and gone another year - the shopping, the dining, the parties, the families, the presents, the chaos, the magic, the awesome, the sacred, the wonder, and...WE. MADE. IT.

And here we are now, on the precipice of the next year...2018: filled 365 new opportunities. Countless potential energy, just waiting for us to arrive.

This week is such an interesting one, and one that I think doesn't get enough credit. The days (weeks? months?) leading up to Christmas are generally SO hectic, and this week is a welcome break from that. Many of us are still off work or on vacation, but even if we have returned to our jobs, it is likely that the load is not as full or frantic as usual. Here we are, still in "downtime" mode, without a massive event (i.e. Christmas day) to get ready for. Because of that, this week makes for an excellent time take stock of where we are, look ahead, and prepare for the coming New Year.

Now to many, that may sound like this has become a “Let’s all make resolutions!” post, and I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a resolution junkie (I’m on Team “LOVE them!”). But this is not quite that, so stick with me.

In this Insta-World we live in, we are often much better at starting something new rather than resolving what we’ve just done. So in that spirit, I want to offer up an thought exercise to do this weekend that gives us a chance to say a proper “goodbye” to 2017 before plunging ahead. Then once we’ve done so, we can take that same spirit and dream a bit about the future. So grab a pen & paper and take a moment to think through some of the ideas below:

FIRST, start with where you've come FROM: what happened to you this year, the awesome and the hard?...

  1. What went well? What were the feel-good accomplishments, the things you are most proud of?
  2. What were the challenges of the year? What hasn't come to fruition yet, or where do you still see room to grow?
  3. What were the big events? What things took up your time and brain space & how did you feel about that?

This is not a time for berating yourself, but rather taking an honest look at the shape of your 2017 so you can use that knowledge to jump confidently into 2018. It is ALSO a time to give yourself honestly-earned props for your accomplishments - don't leave those "little" things out...they matter! You may be surprised to discover just how many books you read, or remember some small-but-significant milestones you passed. Laying out all the events of your year (many probably which were unexpected) may also make it easier for you to see why you may not have completed every ambitious goal you had set.

NEXT, look ahead to the new year. Try to imagine yourself at this point next December...what is it you hope your year would have been filled with? What great things do you want to make sure you keep with you from this past year? What is important for you to keep working at to reach your goals? What do you need to make those dreams a reality?

It may be helpful to think of this in terms of:

  • New habits / rhythms
  • Mindset and mindfulness
  • Planning
  • Creating space (i.e. creating time in your day for YOU, for exercise, for cooking, etc.)

...instead of just outcomes like, for example, “lose 20 pounds,” or “fit into size 10 jeans.”

But why is that? And why bother with this exercise - how is this different from writing down resolutions? Here’s the thing:

No matter what we call it - resolutions, goal-setting, hopes, dreams - the reality is that these things do not just happen - ever. January may feel shiny and new, but eventually sick kids happen, unexpected happens, work and stress happens...LIFE happens. These things we want...we  have to chase them - hunt them down, make a plan, alter the plan, keep at it, fall down and get back up, and (over time) these goals become ours, not (just) because we wrote them down, but because we persisted. But it starts with mindfully making a plan.

So this idea of using this week to “Say Goodbye, then Say Hello” is about:

  • Realistically looking at our lives,
  • Naming what it is we want, and
  • Making a plan for how to START.

...Not “How to arrive.” Likely, your plan may have to change a million times this year to get to your goals....but you don’t have to worry about that right now. The important thing is STARTING. Starting honestly, mindfully, and positively.

For better or for worse, 2017 is coming to a close - give yourself some well-deserved praise for making it through another year. Here’s to the journey of 2018!