New Year New Beginnings: Tools for Writing Your Best Resolutions

This afternoon’s mediation was on the new year and new beginnings. What do I want my story to be? Thinking about these pages and these posts. I am thinking about my love for this work and my desire to keep doing it. My dreams and goals for the coming year involve growth and hope. I am not unhappy where I am, instead I am deeply grateful to be exactly where I am in the world doing exactly what I am doing. This year I would like to practice more bravery and less trepidation – I would like the courage to leap and test my wings. I am also eager to invest in myself and my goals. Now that I have shared what my goals will be, let me share how I plan to pursue them – or rather the steps I take to keep myself aligned and working towards these goals. 

My goals for any new year are not so simple as two bullet points to start. In fact, I start with a word web, I draft and write about the things I am proud of from the past year – I pull out last year’s map and look at what I had dreamed and hoped to do and then I look back over the past year and see what items I accomplished. This is often a very rewarding experience because it reminds me of who I was the year before and what was on my mind, what I was looking forward to, and what hopes I had for myself in the previous year.

Then I look at the items I did not accomplish, those goals that were perhaps longer term than a single year, or more likely, those goals that I wanted a year ago but no longer align with where I’m going or who I am. Sometimes, they are just flukes of timing. My wish to travel more in 2020, certainly did not get accomplished. It was and is a wonderful plan, something I am finding ways to do in the U.S. for the time being. We had some exciting adventures planned, I’m looking at you Ireland. But the universe had other plans in mind and that plays a valid part in goal attainment, learning to be flexible and finding the joy where you are is an important skill set to expand as well. Bloom where you’re planted and so on. 

After I review the previous year and collect those goals that I am still pursuing, I celebrate. I was able to accomplish so much in a single year. It’s important not to just move the goal post and move on. By that I mean, and I’m learning and re-learning this all the time. It is important to celebrate your wins. You have to enjoy the good times because they sustain us while we endure life’s challenges. I make time to be good to myself, congratulate myself, and celebrate how far I’ve come before I move on to planning how far I’m going to go next. Not every field has an awards show or ceremony, and not every goal is that public, whatever your accomplishment or feat, I hope you take a break to savor the moment and honor all of the work it took to get you to that place. 

After the appropriate amount of celebration, only you know this time frame, a night, a week, the entire next year, that’s your call. But once it’s done, I collect my goals from the previous year that went unmet and I write them onto a new web, I add and fill in all of the ideas I have for the next year. I flesh out what those accomplishments will look like for me. And I determine what high level goals will be my priorities. I try to limit my top priorities to one or two goals, that seems to be the limit on what I can juggle and keep track of throughout the year. For example: a couple years ago the goals were, “more discernment and more fun.” Before that I made the goal, “the year of us,” making a point to spend more time with my partner and build that bond from which all of my other bonds grow. I choose differently each year and in the end that helps me to remain a fairly well-rounded person. 

Another way to keep yourself well rounded is to separate your goal web into different areas from the jump – I include the following, self, relationships, work, spirituality, physical health, and mental well being. Each of these areas is necessary for a full life and each of them requires efforts to the exclusion of others. You cannot do all of these things at once and by creating a web it very quickly becomes apparent which areas I am focusing on and which areas need a little more attention. When I break these pieces of my life into their own separate sections it’s easier to see where my areas for growth really are and where I am strongest. It also helps me to see where my plan and my path is taking me. 

Usually, once the annual web is created I simplify the larger ideas. Some areas overlap and if I’ve written an idea more than once, I know that goal is something that should rise to the priority list. My priority list is a short selection of 10 or fewer supplemental goals that I want to call attention to since I felt the need to add them to my web multiple times. 

In the end my resolutions take two pages – the rough draft web that I hold onto for the following year’s review and the clean list. The top of the page shows my one or two primary priorities. Then the list of ten, or fewer, high level goals from all areas and the web which lists in greater detail those items I really value, they meant so much I chose to write them down. 

Early in the year I check back on my list periodically to see how I’m doing and gauge my progress. But typically, by the middle of the year I have completely forgotten the list and go about my daily life, this way when I come back New Year’s week it is always a delight somewhat of a surprise to see what items were on the list. It’s a wonderful experience to look back over how far I have come in a single year. For me the exercise can be time intensive which is why I usually set aside a couple of days to reflect, review, and write out what I’m thinking. I find it is a lovely process to complete New Year’s week. 

For me resolutions are cathartic, the process of selecting and writing them delights me as much as planning for their accomplishment. It is a gift to have this life to plan and hope for. It is a joy to be surrounded by time and energy to pursue my goals. I hope this little road map helps you as you look at your own life, reflect on how far you’ve come, celebrated what you’ve done already, and look forward to what is next!  I can’t see where 2022 take you – I’m already so proud of you for being here! Wishing you health, wealth, and success in 2022 – whatever those words mean to you! Love, MK