Maybe 2023 was a tough year for you and you just want it to be over. You might have lost a loved one, been part of corporate downsizing or became inflicted with cancer, a terminal illness or debilitating physical impairment. Imagine Michael Jackson (went from great wealth to bankruptcy) Tim Conway (died from brain cancer), and Nick Vujicic (born without arms and legs) all happening to you in one year. Sometimes we feel that life is so bad and that it can’t get any worse.
However, the end of one year and the beginning of a new one can be the opportunity to balance your loss, sentiments and grief with celebration, joy, and hope. Low bank balances, debt, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and other significant events can be a time of happiness and sadness. The new year just might be what you need to hold space for your complex and often times conflicting emotions.
I have had many tough and challenging events in my life. I am the sole remaining member of my immediate family with both parents and my older sister and brother gone. Of my four children, 2 of them have passed away: one at 9 months of age and the other at 24 years old, by suicide. And yes, I’ve been through divorce, and close to financial ruin. I’ve been in a debilitating auto accident and have had multiple surgeries.
Fortunately, I have not had a major negative life event occur in the past year, thus no burning desire that it be over. However, as I close the door on 2023, I want 2024 to include improved finances, better relationships, top notch health and a deeper relationship with God. These are aspirations to improve upon which will affect me and those who I love.
Most people look at the new year and set New Year’s Resolutions with the best of intentions. However, there is a 91% failure rate of resolutions within the first 3 weeks. In all practicality, they are more damaging than good, reduce confidence and cause discouragement. They fail because they do not connect with your inner core, what you really care about and who you truly are.
An alternative to making New Years Resolutions, which has an extremely high likelihood that they will fail, is to write a letter to yourself. In this letter, be true and authentic about where you are and what you want to happen in the next year. Connect with yourself. Set aside time to deeply reflect on the following questions. They may guide you to discovering more about who you are and what you want to accomplish.
- What are the fears holding you back? (How are you going to address them? Journal, talk it out, work with a coach?)
- What adventures do you want to take part in? (List several. What doesn’t happen next year can be moved to the following year)
- How am I going to make the adventure happen? (Put it on your calendar, start saving money for it, ask for time off from work, start eating healthily, and include exercise in your daily routine.)
- How do you connect with others? What is missing and can you improve it? (What book(s) will you read, classes will you attend, videos you will watch, or will you work with a coach?)
- Who do I want to make a difference for? (Family, charity, yourself)
- What do your mental health, emotional health, physical health, and spiritual health look like and consist of? (What activities will you put into place to get you where you want them to be? Consider adding these activities to your daily routine.)
- What does your daily routine consist of? (Write what you want your day to look like.)
Now that you have reflected on what the next year looks like, keep your letter close at hand. Revisit it frequently (put this activity on your calendar) and evaluate if what you wrote about is relevant. Circumstances may have changed; you may have achieved your ambition and now have space to focus on something new.
At year end, your letter will show what goals have been met. Realize, not all may not be achieved. That is okay. Ask if this was important in the first place? Is it something you want to focus on again or is it time to set it aside and move on?
If you choose to write a letter to yourself, it is my wish for you that you get what you set your intentions to. May 2024 be filled with prosperity, love, and hope.