Every year is your year if you’re living. How can you go from surviving to thriving in 2017?
I think we’ve heard it all this year – including that 2016 was an Emmy-winning drama directed by Shonda Rhimes. I’ve seen countless “new year, new me” captions and I truly applaud public declarations of new diets and workout plans. Frankly, we can’t leave behind everything that happened to us and to our world in 2016; a new year doesn’t necessarily mean a clean slate. Tomorrow, I (with many others) return back to the same job and the same complications that existed on December 31st – How can you make the most of a new year without forgetting what 2016 taught us?
As cliché as it feels, my first advice is to reflect. By looking back on the most notable memories of 2016, I caught myself smiling at the good times and ready to kick it into high gear to reach the goals I neglected throughout the year. Scrolling through the camera roll on my phone and through my social media accounts back to January 2016 helped me remember some of the smaller moments that brought great joy to my life. Some of the most notable highlights of my 2016 were…
- Graduating college with two Bachelor’s degrees
- Securing my first full time job post-grad
- Publishing my first book and getting local distribution
- Keeping my dog alive for another year (!!)
- Visiting Mexico and the Bahamas
- Reaching my personal savings goal
- Starting graduate school
- Getting my nose pierced
- Meeting the kindest and most loving man
- Completing the citizen police academy
- Attending my first Kentucky Derby
- Purchasing my first new car
- Founding a local collective to unite area creatives
My year was filled with so many positive events that were the product of tons of hard work. My year wasn’t without obstacles, however. I had a terrible experience getting my wisdom teeth out, had to replace all the carpet in my old apartment thanks to my little furball, experienced workplace conflict, dealt with the lasting effects of ending an abusive relationship and anxiety, and wrecked my diet and exercise plan. These experiences were personal – I also can’t forget the complex societal issues our country experienced including violent hate crimes, hateful discourse, a trainwreck of an election, the deaths of numerous icons, environmental disputes, among other adversities. The turn of a year unfortunately encompasses more than just our personal struggles, and we have to consider our participation in the greater picture – which often led to much emotional despair in 2016.
After reflecting on your 2016, set a few goals that you’d like to achieve in 2017. Too many times I have set far too many goals at the start of a new year that fix me up to neglect most and not give some the full attention they deserved. In the coming year, my few goals include actually making an effort to live a more active lifestyle, creating a top notch home office for better blog productivity, and working with my dog to improve his obedience. These goals feel small and sparse, but they are achievable and within my means. For my blog, I want to write more frequently (I say this every year) and am committing to a weekly schedule by following a list of prompts in the 52 Lists Project – Details forthcoming!
In addition to setting personal goals, there are regular practices you can use to make yourself happier, the world more positive, and 2017 the best year yet:
- Check your source before you share information or images on social media. Let’s try to spread truth, not lies.
- Have a device-free day – or even just a few hours. Take advantage of all the Vitamin D you can soak up from the sun any day it shines.
- Smile at strangers and coworkers and servers and everyone in between. Say thank you, hold the door, and tip appropriately.
- Declutter your living and work space. You don’t have to go full minimalist, but donating clothes you don’t wear, furniture that serves as a laundry basket, and other clutter will be remarkably liberating.
- Stop glorifying inanimate objects. I like stuff, but it doesn’t talk back. Invest your time (and your money!) in real people and real initiatives that support your goals.
- Stretch in the morning! I’ve never been one for yoga and have a hard time moving after just waking up, but a solid set of stretches wakes up my body and prepares me for a work day.
- Talk on the phone instead on texting. Hearing a voice and inflection can make all the difference in the direction of a conversation and your mood.
- Don’t keep up with people that don’t foster the best you! That goes for following random acquaintances on Instagram or binging reality TV that regularly shames one of your identities.
- Write a letter and put it in the mail. Opening up a handwritten note still gives me butterflies!
- Learn something new every day whether it is a skill, a factoid, or simply more about yourself and your needs.
- Read words in a book, not on a screen. The library is free!
- Make a plan to manage your money that can help you work toward a major financial goal such as a vacation, home buying, or new vehicle.
- If you write, do so in active voice. You’ll start thinking in that mindset and decrease your passivity.
- Realize that you can’t change the past – or anything that happened last year. This includes your food choices, your spending, your significant other’s past relationship, your speeding ticket, or losing your job, Use positive and negative experiences to direct your future decisions.
What are you doing to really embrace 2017?