A goodbye comes before another hello. Even though it is just another sunset on one day and another sunrise on another, as a society we have made the turn of a new year into so much more than that. The expectation, the pressure to celebrate, the release of one year and the hope of another – it can all feel a bit too much.
We end up reflecting on what has “gone wrong” and feeling the perceived gaps in our lives that everyone else seems to have filled. We can feel lonely, we miss those we have lost, and we can feel lost we don’t know what direction to take our lives in. These are all common feelings – and they need to be felt.
But I would love to focus on our ability to choose how we want to view the new year – away from the societal pressures and conformities of what a new year “should” mean. That human-constructed turning of the last digit of the year from a one to a two can either make or break us, depending on how we view it and how we use it. And I would encourage you to choose to let it make you.
1. Say a proper goodbye
We cannot engage with something new fully unless we have had time to reflect, to get closure and to reach that point of clarity that hits when we know a certain period of our lives is over – when there is no pull from the past any more, but rather just peace.
Be proud of what you have coped with – write a list, tell a friend, feel all the feelings that have come up and really feel that goodbye, or those feelings will find a way through later. Learn your lessons and learn them well. Gratitude and appreciation are the final steps in saying a proper goodbye to what has been. Let go of resentment, anger, upset and frustration, because they will only hold you back.
2. Say a proper hello
Forget societal pressure to change your entire life in one day, one week or even one year. Chuck the “new year, new me” vibes away. Set general intentions, not high-pressure resolutions. Instead of thinking about specific outcomes as a starting point, think about your general direction.
What do you want to be different and, most importantly, why? Unless you are clear on this, you can’t change anything. Be realistic – things won’t change overnight. Words and lists are all very well, but it is action that matters, so get going with practical steps. Be determined and take small, resolute steps forward.
3. Maybe nothing needs to change
Why are we always told we need to improve, to change, to be better? Maybe we want to do these things for ourselves and that is fine, but when the drive comes from self-criticism, any changes made never end up being positive ones. The drive to “better ourselves” can cause untold suffering.
4. Now is where it is at
Realise that your future is constructed from tiny moments and choices you are making right not. Your future doesn’t happen in the future. It is being created now. So, choose how you spend each and every moment. These moments all add up to you experiencing something different.
5. Be open to the spontaneous
New Year’s goals are all very well but so often the best things happen out of nowhere. Planning, being prepared and organised are all fine, but as we have all been reminded so often in the past two years, the majority of life is out of our control. Don’t get too stuck or rigid in your thinking about how 2023 might turn out, or you might miss some of the best opportunities.