Journalling the Year That Has Passed, and Setting Aims for the Year To Come
This month I’d like to share with you a New Year’s tradition passed down to me by my Grandmother. It’s not a new years resolution, it’s no ‘hair of the dog’ hangover cure, and it’s certainly not a ‘lose the 2 kilos you put on over Christmas by lunch’ diet. This is a simple but powerful analysis and goal setting tool that has become a ritual for me every year. It’s a really simple journaling process, and it helps me to reflect on the year that I’ve had, and put some ideas in motion for the next year that I would like to have.
The process is this; at some point on New Year’s Eve, the first day of the New Year, or within a few days of the first day, take some time out with yourself to reflect on the year you have had. Jot down your overall impression of your year. How do you feel about the year you have just had. Keep in mind, this is journal to yourself, so try to avoid chronicling what others “see” and instead record how you “feel”. Detail your experiences and the changes that occurred in family, work, your personal growth practice, your hobbies, sports, home renovations, your health, your finances, and every aspect of your life. Give yourself an honest and non-judgemental assessment of how you feel you lived. Did you achieve your goals? Did you grow and evolve in the way you intended/expected? Do you have a new direction from last year? Did your choices and actions support your deepest beliefs and values? Allow yourself to explore your thoughts, feelings and emotions relating to all that you’ve experienced.
I find that I am always amazed at the magnitude of what I experience in each year, and I am often surprised at what I write…discovering thoughts and feelings and observations that I didn’t realize I had. You may find the same, so once you have completed your journaling of last year, take some time to sit and reflect on all that you have uncovered in your writing. As you reflect on your past year, allow a picture of the new year to begin to formulated. Ask yourself a few questions about this next year. What would you like to experience? How would you like to grow into this new year?
What changes would you like to make in family, career, health, finance?
What goals would you like to achieve (both internal and external)? What belief systems and values would you like to drive your choices and actions?
Who would you like to share your year with, how can you create more space for these people in your life? As you formulate and ponder on these questions, a clearer picture will begin to emerge as to how you will create your next year. At this stage, use whatever method you know, or draws you, to make this picture more tangible. You can write a clear action plan, detailing your goals, what you will do to achieve those goals, and how you will maintain your goals. You may like to draw pictures or cut them out of magazines to create a collage. You may like to use your computer and combine words and graphics to create your plan, allow yourself to be creative in expressive your dreams and desires for 2004.
Once your plan is complete, sit down in a quite place and try to imagine what it will feel like when you start working towards your goals; see yourself sitting in a classroom taking a course, see yourself at the gym working on your fitness, see yourself in your office enjoying your work…try to imagine yourself in these circumstances, as this will draw these experiences to you. At this stage you may decide to put your plan away and revisit it weekly, monthly, or bi-annually. You may find that you naturally visualize your dreams and don’t need the “paper plan”. However, if you find that you get busy and tend to forget your goals or put them on the ‘back burner’, keep your plan around to remind you of all the wonderful dreams and desires you have.
Keep in mind that the New Year offers us a new opportunity to create the life of our dreams. However, this change does not happen at the strike of midnight. It does not happen in the formulation of the plan. Creating the life you want to life occurs in the choices you make in each and every moment, so take some steps now to put a system in place to support yourself in those moments when the choice isn’t so clear. This may mean reviewing your goals, or a simplified version, first thing every morning. Perhaps you will find your picture collage helpful as a reminder. Or, taking a few minutes each day in meditation to visualize your year ahead may keep your goals and dreams on the “front burner” where they belong.
I hope you enjoy this process, and find it as enlightening and motivating as I have. A very Happy New Year to you all. May we enjoy a year of peace, harmony, and abundance.
First Published in the Mind Body Messenger newsletter 2004