We are getting ready for a new year. Around this time each year, we begin to reflect on what we’re leaving behind and what experiences and dreams we hope for in the future. This year, we know, has been a difficult time for all of us. Perhaps it feels daunting to look forward to next year, to imagine a different reality, or build up the energy for excitement. It is absolutely okay to sit with those feelings of uncertainty or unease and also make space for the possibility of joy. Let’s envision a new year together, grounding ourselves in strategies of self-care, flexibility, and compassion.
We all have dreams and expectations when we are welcoming a new year. Often, these are the things we would like to change within our lives and ourselves. Sometimes, we manage to meet some of our expectations and sometimes we give up after trying, forgetting the goal entirely. When we hold ourselves too rigidly to our goals, one of two things may occur. Either, we experience a sense of defeat because we’ve set unrealistic goals that cannot be met, or, upon striving toward our goals, we recognize that the result isn’t how we’d imagined and give up. Maintaining a lens of flexibility when it comes to setting expectations can help us to set goals that directly respond to our needs, which can be ever-evolving. Think of planning for the new year as if you were inflating a balloon. Perhaps we can’t get enough air into the balloon in order for it to take flight. Or, maybe we’ve overestimated our strength and the balloon bursts. With this new balloon, we are more intentional, filling and releasing air as needed in order to soar. This kind of flexibility allows us to face our goals with an open mind, to know that it is okay for things to shift, change, and grow.
With so many noises around us, it can be difficult at times to embrace our authentic selves and identify our own needs. This is your reminder: you are worthy of your own greatness. The steps you take to center what you want and who you are, are meaningful. It is okay to dwell in solitude to reconnect to yourself. Creating a safe space to be alone with your truest you is brave when there are so many out there trying to tell us who to be and how to act. You get to determine the pace at which you move forward on your path to self-discovery. Don’t rush the process.
One of the most powerful skills we possess is the ability to create a story. Stories are the narratives we tell ourselves about our own reality. They can be the mirrors through which we see ourselves and the windows into understanding others that show us we are not alone. Try to imagine yourself in the new year. Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? What story are you creating for yourself? Practice being open to the possibilities, the differences that may take shape in the tale you’re telling and the wonders that may await you in this new year.
As we reflect on the past year, we may find ourselves feeling a deep sense of grief or loss. Allow yourself the space for those feelings. It is okay not to be okay. At the same time, notice your strength. You are here, existing in your pain. Think of the people, places, and things you have that bring you joy. Claim what lights up your life just as much as your losses. Both experiences tell us we are alive, that we can continue with intention and purpose.
Starting over may not always be easy. Imagine going to someone’s house and finding a plant you like there. You’re given a cutting to take home and propagate, waiting for it to sprout before you plant it in a planter. Perhaps you’ll be too excited and cut the propagation short, transferring it to the soil before its roots have begun to solidify, lengthening the growing process. Or, maybe you extend the sprouting period for too long and the roots don’t thrive in the new soil. You may not know what will take hold in life, when and whether the root will flourish in the way you guessed. But if you make room for something new, you will find more opportunities for growth and joy as you try.
Laughter can be the great unifier, creating a sense of joy and connection even amidst our darkest times. We all want to know that we are not alone. Perhaps we experience humor with a person close to us, or a character on TV, in a film, or book. Give yourself permission to laugh without guilt, shame, or doubt. Take space for exploring joy through humor to ground yourself in the present.
Not everything goes well all the time. Try to be kind to yourself. Remember that your body gives you signals about its needs that require just as much compassion and care as your heart and mind. How you think and what you feel about yourself is important for a deeper connection to your authentic truth. “We can be our own worst critics,” is a common saying for a reason. How can you observe the critic within and invite them into a different headspace with tender kindness?
May 2021 be a beautiful year, where you take care of yourself, make new plans with hope, and remain flexible as you move forward in your authenticity at your own pace. Remember to stay open to new experiences and perspectives and to invite and embrace joy, laughter, and compassion. Happy New Year!