Eleven years ago, I curled up in my father’s recliner with a new journal and a pen. And as the smooth voice of Norah Jones filled the room (I’d just gotten her CD for Christmas. Remember CDs?) I wrote.
I wrote about 2002, the year that had just ended. I wrote about the good and the bad. The highs and lows. The joys and the not so joyful moments. I reflected on it all, each word a small goodbye to the year that was. Each word moving me towards an understanding of where I was and where I wanted to go, who I wanted to be.
Then I turned to a fresh page and began to welcome the new year. I made a list of resolutions and then journaled about each one. Reflecting on the whys and thinking through the hows. Picturing the day when 2003 would turn to 2004 and how I wanted to be different then.
Almost every year since, I have done this same thing. I have journaled about the year that was and bid it goodbye. Sometimes I blow a small kiss and smile as it fades. Sometimes I give it a good kick in the ass, turning on my heel away from the memory. Some years it’s hard to say goodbye. Some years I am so ready for the fresh start and the feeling of newness and lightness that always comes for me as we turn the page to January. But always, I write.
And then, always, I turn with fresh eyes and a fresh heart to a new year. I write about how I want to change and what I want to do. What I struggled with in the year before and what I want to conquer in the months ahead. Sometimes I get a little ambitious and I write and I write and I write and I worry that I’ll forget everything I’ve written. But when I go back and read a year later, somehow those hopes and dreams and plans for improvement stay with me.
It is all, I believe, in the writing.
If you want to give this a try this year and do some reflecting of your own, here are some tips to get you started and keep you going.
- Always start with a goodbye to the year that was. Clear the old before you make way for the new.
- Don’t worry about being perfectly comprehensive in your goodbye. The point is not to make a perfect record of everything that happened and everything you did and experienced in the previous year. It’s to capture a feeling. To reflect on the pieces that spring to mind, take from them what you need, and peacefully say goodbye to the rest.
- Don’t linger too long on your goodbye or you’ll find that you are dwelling very much in the past. In fact, if you write more than a few pages about the previous year, you’ve probably dwelled past the point of helpfulness.
- Use the main points of focus in your reflection on the year passed to guide where your resolutions for the new year will take you. I often sit down to write with a few resolution ideas in mind. The rest come to me as I write.
- Start your resolution writing with a simple list. Then take some time to write about each one – why it is important to you, how you plan to achieve it, what success will look like to you.
- Write like nobody will read these words. Because, unless you choose to reveal them, nobody will.
- Keep this journal or these pages or this file where you might come across it regularly. You don’t have to stop and read often but the mere sight of the vessel for your words will remind you of what this year should be for you.
Finally, have fun. There is, of course, no right or wrong way to make or write resolutions. This is about you and what you want to get out of this one, precious life.
Happy resolution making!