What do you mean, ‘how’ to say goodbye to 2017? Well, you weren’t planning on setting foot in 2018 and achieving your goals without reminiscing on the year you’ve had, were you? As important as it is to mentally prepare for the upcoming year, it is equally important to have a sit-down and recap the year you’re leaving behind. Whether you would consider your year as a good or bad one, it doesn’t matter. I’m sure this time around your main concern is to make sure your new year is better, brighter and more successful.
Now, how do you think you can do that without reflecting on the 365 days you’ve had and how they shaped the person you are today? How can you hope for the best without evaluating the good and the bad, the achievements and the shortcomings? If you have a grand vision for 2018, hold on to it. I am merely here to guide and inspire you in the process leading to your New Years Resolutions, so bear with me as I give you a few instructions that will get you involved in the process, right here and right now.
Firstly, I challenge you to sit down where you feel most comfortable, somewhere you won’t be distracted in for the next few minutes. Grab a pen, a piece of paper, your favorite notebook or journal, or even your phone and open a blank page. Title it, ‘My 2017′ – keep it simple so you can move on to your next course of action. (Note – You can absolutely do the next steps in your own way, and in the language you feel closest to- your brain will respond better to the language it understands better).
Now, write down one to two sentences without overthinking, describing the year you’ve had. For example,
“2017 was a year that I’ve spent working hard towards my education, spending quality time with my partner, reading the books I like and cultivating my different talents.”
It could be as positive and satisfying as this example but it doesn’t have to be. If you’ve had a particularly rough year, I encourage you to add a few positive words to your sentence to build the momentum you need for making 2018 a more enjoyable and fruitful year.
Now, write down how you feel.
“I feel proud and inspired but I wish I could be more myself when I am around others”
Writing down how you feel will set you in the here and now- you will become more aware of what you want for yourself; what you can make better in 2018.
Once you have that done, I want you to break down your life into categories: Health, relationships, career (or studies), personal development, spiritual development, leisure and family. Make sure the titles resonate to you, and the way you do this is in your own way. Also, it doesn’t matter how you choose to arrange these categories, or if you merge them together. For each category, I want you to recall the goals you’ve set for yourself for 2017, fitting each in the relevant box. Now, don’t worry! If you are feeling that you haven’t achieved as many goals as you’ve hoped, please don’t feel discouraged. Surely, this will be for your better good. Write them down and mention if you have accomplished them or not. If you have, give yourself a pat on the back and shine that big smile of yours! And if you haven’t, don’t be harsh on yourself. Simply put down the reason why. However, I want you to exclude the excuse, “I didn’t have time”. You will know why later. This exercise is very important, as it will make you realize which aspects of your life you are paying most attention to. For example, if your relationship part (family, friendship, marriage) feels the strongest, you might notice you’re slacking on your health or personal development.
Don’t strive for ‘balance’ – A tip to take to 2018
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being generous on an area in your life. In fact, I encourage you to do that. Often, we strive for balance in each aspect, thinking ‘balance’ is the reasonable answer to everything. As logical as that sounds, and we love logical things, it’s not always true. Sometimes temporarily focusing more on a work project is more meaningful than spending time with your family. I know, that is horrible and unheard of! What am I saying?! Well, that’s the fact of the matter. At the end of the day, you want to go to bed feeling fulfilled, nourished to your core, and excited for the next day. You don’t want to feel drained for letting things drown you for the sake of ‘balance’. Balance is not a real thing that you should strive for, it’s what we imagine to be ‘the right thing’ but there’s no such thing. Of course, this does not mean completely neglecting other important aspects of your life because they too contribute to the overall quality of your life. It’s not about balance, it’s about what works and what feels right. It’s about acknowledging your responsibilities, knowing where you feel most happy and not worrying about the rest.
The Final Step: Gratitude
Now, I want you to list 10 things about 2017 that you are grateful for. It could be events, milestones or persons that have changed your year or life.
I bet you felt good on the inside as you expressed your gratitude in writing. To get the best out of gratitude, practice it daily. Truly magical things can happen when you transform the feeling of gratefulness to an everyday habit that can transform your life. Many researchers link gratitude with health, well-being, positivity, and happiness. Who wouldn’t want a generous bundle of all four?
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward
By concluding with gratitude, you are ready to embark on the next journey of your life, where endless possibilities and greater happiness can be achieved. The sky is your limit, they say!
This section is going to be a little more fun. Planning for the unknown is in itself more exciting, as far as I’m concerned anyway. But, you don’t have to start this section immediately after you’ve done with the previous part unless you’re doing this only minutes before the New Years, then by all means.
Here we will be reaching out to different surfaces of ourselves to reach to a state of self-awareness, which will help us to set, plan and achieve our goals and dreams.
1. Your personality
How would you describe your personality? Are you curious and inquisitive? Kind and helpful? Judgmental and short-tempered? Brisk and determined? You have to be honest with yourself. I want you to list 10 qualities about yourself that best represent you. If you feel comfortable, getting someone very close to you to list the same about you will be excellent, it can be a real eye-opener.
As you have probably guessed, now you will list as many personality traits you wish to have the following year. This could be in the form of getting rid of some of your old traits or creating new ones. For example, I can be somewhat of an overthinker and I wish I could trust my instinct more often. So the next time I have an idea – I will just share it and see how that goes.
2. Your identity
Where do you belong? What is your background? Your language? Your gender?
You might be wondering: How is this even remotely relevant to preparing for 2018? Well, I truly believe that before you are capable of doing and achieving anything in your life, you have to first start with questions about yourself- Who am I? What am I? Without really reflecting, without proper self-awareness you can’t expect to take big strides in your life- towards success, love, and growth.
Getting in touch with the realities that make you the person you are and fully accepting them can truly heap wonders in overturning your self-esteem issues if you suffer from any. If your identity is something you shy away from, you better pull the brakes right now! What about your identity makes you feel small? Is it your social status? Your dialect? Your culture? Your ancestors? Whatever it may be – confront those beliefs to find the source of your discontent. It’s really difficult to completely own your personal identity if there are underlying sources of shame and discomfort connected to a great part of your identity. Don’t get me wrong – I am not asking you to conform to certain values, traditions, and cultures that you were brought up in and don’t necessarily agree with, I want you to simply acknowledge them. I want you to accept that you were as a matter-of-fact brought up in this culture, taking the good, leaving the bad, and becoming your own unique self, without feeling that you are dictated or bound by your ‘fixed identity’. At the same time, don’t feel that in order to grow and become your own self in this world, you have to neglect your roots and stray as far away from them as possible. Ignoring such a great part of your life or upbringing is the same as stripping away layers and layers of your identity- you will only be left with a flimsy idea of who you are as a person. You cannot go a day, let alone a lifetime, without being reminded by your fixed culture, so why bother running away from it? You can grow around it, and in spite of it, not away from it.
“Don’t tie you’re personal, emerging identity to your fixed identity (Arab, Muslim, White, Black, Rich, Poor, Male, Female). The two identities can live side by side, and don’t have to overlap.”
Your emerging identity includes the beliefs and values you acquire over time, your political beliefs, your aspirations.
3. Your dreams a.k.a your Greatest Aspirations
We’re finally gonna talk about dreams and goals?! YES.
To venture into the new year, you must bring with your greatest desires and dreams. Those are things you can’t imagine happening in the course of a year, but you can prepare for them. When you think, “Oh I want to start a business”, “Write a Book”, “Have 5 kids”, “Have my own law firm/clinic/cafe”,“Be rich and happy and live on a private island and have several yachts” – Those are your vision board goals; the big dreams that make your heart happy. They take time, patience, and a lot of personal effort. Some of them are more realistic than others, but that’s the point. Stretch your imagination when it comes to your dreams, it is when you fully embrace the possibilities of how your life could look in 2, 5, or 10 years that your dreams can actually manifest into reality or at least a very close version of it.
4. Your goals a.k.a your short-term and long-term goals for 2018
Okay, the next two parts are the most important. Your goals are exclusive to this new year. Take them seriously- write them down. What do you want to achieve and accomplish this year? Here, you can think of the different categories of your life that we’ve touched on earlier. If you find it difficult to pinpoint what you can improve in your life, ask yourself questions. But before you even do that, I want you to remember to be grateful for your life, regardless of what you might be lacking and what you hope to accomplish this year. Your life is already extremely valuable.
“Be grateful for what you already have while you pursue your goals. If you aren’t grateful for what you already have, what makes you think you would be happy with more.” ― Roy T. Bennett,
Now let’s get to the questions!
For your relationships – Your relationship with your mom? Is your mom getting any of your time or are you just too busy? Your spouse – Are you listening to his/her goals and encouraging him/her to achieve them? Are you there for them emotionally? Your kids – Are you putting your phone away to listen to them? Are you taking them out every now and then? Are you listening to their concerns? Are you projecting how you were raised on them, even though time and time again you realized it doesn’t work? Your friends – Are you remembering their birthdays? Are you helping them when they come sharing their personal problems?
Your career- Are you where you want to be? Are you growing? Are you being productive at work or simply waiting for the time you can head home? Do you have a business you want to start?
Your studies – Are you slacking for another semester? Are you devoting productive hours in your day to get the work done? Are you writing down what you need to get done in the first place? Are you in an environment that you can study in without being distracted every few minutes?
Your self-development – Are you reading as much as you want? Are you attending seminars and workshops that can enhance your expertise? (This can go under career too) If you’re always stressed, did you ever consider learning about stress so you can minimize its effects on you? I would also add “Self-Care” to personal development – this is more related to your beauty. For example, are you taking some time to do your hair, exercise, pick out the clothes you love wearing, are you routinely getting groomed? Basically, are you taking the time and energy you deserve to feel beautiful? How you feel about your appearance can make you own your day and your life, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Cultivate that #SelfLove!
Your health – Are you eating right? Are you happy with your body, health-wise? You’ve signed up to the gym- Are you actually going every other day like you’ve planned? Are you at least stretching every morning? Are you drinking your optimal 8-10 glasses a day? Are you getting the necessary checkups at your local hospital?
Once you’ve established what areas of your life you want to improve, write down your goals under the category it belongs. After you’ve written the titles of your goals, you can start writing your sub-goals, which I’ll show you in the next section.
5. Get a Journal or a Year Planner for your Goals
We know about journalling for our thoughts and emotions, which is a really great thing to do. Now it’s time to have one for your goals.
A planner or journal for your goals is one where you will write each goal you have for the year and how you plan on achieving it through small everyday steps and habits that you incorporate into your day. A planner can also be your calendar, to mark your commitments for each day and plan ahead. The market is buzzing with them. A quick google search can land you to a 100 different types of planners and journals. Year planners. Month planners. Day planners. Goal planners. Productivity planners. Anything you could possibly think of! I like to make my life easier by going to Amazon and finding the highest-rated ones. You can of course, start simple and buy an empty journal and fill it with what you have to get done and how you’re planning on achieving each goal. I promise you, that will still work if you make the effort to commit to it. However, if you prefer something more customized and has a format ready for you, you can find the planner of your dreams online. Just make sure it’s not too overly complicated- You don’t want to spend more time journalling than actually getting what you’ve journaled done. Remember- You don’t want to just write down what you have to get done, but how to achieve it through sub-goals. It’s also useful to decide by when to achieve the goal.
I’ll give you a few different examples.
Goal: Read 10 Books a Year
- Search for good books to read
- Visit my favorite bookstore every weekend to pick up the books I want
- Read 1 book a month
- Spend the first 30 minutes of my day reading
- Listen to my book when I’m getting ready in the morning
Goal: Lose 5 KGS in 1 month
- Prepare a weekly grocery list of the foods I’ll eat this month
- Ask a specialist for the right exercise methods I can practice daily
- Walk every day for 30 minutes
- Drink 1 glass of water 20 minutes before each meal
- Avoid my favorite burger place on the weekends
Goal: Have a Clean Home Always
- Clean the house for 5 minutes before I leave my house every day
- Fix some hangers in my closet to avoid leaving clothes on the floor
- Dedicate 15 minutes before bed to tidy up
- Teach my kids how to do their beds and empty their wastebaskets
- Dedicate every Saturday to mop the floors and wipe the surfaces
- Share my goal with my spouse so we can remind each other to clean up
Goal: Get high marks for my Finals
- Start studying two weeks early
- Use a specific journal just for my studies and write down what I have to study for each subject
- Designate which days in the week I’ll be studying for each subject
- Have a good pen, highlighter and notebook to take notes as I study
- Mark what I didn’t understand to ask my classmates or professors
- Review my notes gradually and after I’ve completed them
Goal: Be more Selfless
- Let your partner choose where to have dinner this weekend
- Listen when people are talking to you, instead of being impatient to reply
- Offer to babysit your sister/brother or close friends’ baby so they can have a nice day out
- Buy a gift for someone you love
- Donate the clothes you haven’t worn in a year
You can have as little and as many sub-goals as you want. But if you’re just starting out, don’t freak yourself out by making your sub-goals a daunting to-do list with 15 subgoals. Start simple, see how much you actually achieve and go from there. Studies have also shown that writing in present tense will push you to start, for example, instead of writing “Start studying two weeks early” you can write, “I will start studying two weeks early”. But I always like to say, getting things done is up to you, it’s your commitment that’s gonna take you from point A to B.
After you’ve done all of this or your personal version of it, you will be well-prepared for 2018, and for actually getting things done! Wouldn’t that be good? If you noticed, I skipped the New Years Resolutions and went straight ahead to goal setting and planning. Of course, you can write your Resolutions if you’re used to doing so every year, but don’t do it knowing you’ll forget all about them by two weeks. You want to get that beautiful year sorted and make use of the time you have. Now if you’ve read this far, you’re probably thinking: She never told us why we should never say we don’t have time when it comes to our goals? Well, this is because- you are where time comes from! You can make as much of it as you want. If you make time seem like a scarce resource that controls you, you will be overwhelmed. But if you truly believe that you are time, and focus your energy on what you have to get done instead of complaining about not having enough time, you will get things done. This is not something I made up, it’s a phenomenon known as “Einstein Time” explained by the author of “The Big Leap” by Gay Hendricks- a fantastic read! Maybe add it to your 2018 reading list?
Quick checklist –
Review your previous year
Practice gratitude daily
Don’t strive for balance – but for happiness
Cultivate your self-awareness to improve your life
Set goals! Big goals, small goals, daily goals!
Set sub-goals for each goal
Never say you don’t have time! You are time.