How do you close out the year? Is it a flurry of activity, get-togethers and parties with family and friends? Do you take time to reflect on the year that is coming to a close and plan for the New Year?
I like to take time throughout the month of December to reflect on where I’ve been, what I’ve learned and begin the process of setting an intention for the New Year.
I’d loved to schedule a whole day, a whole week or go away just for this purpose, but real life doesn’t usually permit this luxury. Instead I have learned to take a few minutes or a few hours every day to review, reflect, journal, dream and plan.
As I prepare for the New year, one of the things I don’t do is set New Year resolutions.
What I do instead is choose a theme and/or a few words that will act as a guide and a reminder of my purpose throughout the year. I’m not the only one who does this. Barbara Winter, Chris Brogan, Christine Kane and Chris Guillebeau have all written and shared a similar process.
I start my process by reviewing my journals, reflecting on the things I accomplished and the things I wanted to do, but failed to achieve. I then use this as the foundation for identifying what I want to be, do and have in the New Year.
Sometimes my theme doesn’t show itself right away. This past year was like that.
I had a hard time setting an intention for 2011 before it arrived. I felt a sense of urgency to continue to build on all that I had learned and discovered over the past years. Based on the almost frantic, panic-driven sense of urgency I knew this wasn’t the right choice. I had to let go and slow down to see what was right in front of me. Once I did I realized that my family, relationships and self-care were going to be the overriding theme – whether I liked it or not.
I needed to remind myself of my guiding theme numerous times thought the year. By allowing myself to be guided by the themes of family, relationships and self-care 2011 turned out to be a very good year filled with love, personal healing and growth and a deepening of many relationships.
Now that 2012 is almost here I am once again looking back and looking forward.
Last night as I was writing out my thoughts and mindmapping in my giant journal (18” x 24”) I recognized that I had some really BIG desires and intentions coming up. It’s a little scary.
Reminding myself that I needed to take small steps didn’t help much. Envisioning small steps was very helpful when I first started out with a fuzzy vision. Small steps are also very helpful when I’m working a small project that has a clearly defined beginning, middle and end.
But, some of the things I’m seeing for 2012 will only be a beginning and I needed some way to move forward, one small step at a time, but within a bigger timeframe.
Then last night while reading I came across a reference to AA’s 12-Steps and the idea of staying sober in this moment, this day, of not taking on the giant task of staying sober every day for the rest of your life in a single moment.
I realized that staying sober was a long-term goal that was about not just the action of not drinking, but it was also about including a time reference, too – today, just today, just this moment.
I realized I needed to take this expanded small step idea and apply it to some of the big, scary things I was looking at for 2012. That’s when ’52-weeks, One Day at a Time’ popped into my head.
52-weeks, One Day at a Time, is the small step way but with a twist. The focus shifts from not just the action itself, but includes a moment to moment awareness of the long-term goal while taking it just one day at a time.
The 52-weeks, One Day at a Time idea has shifted my perspective on a whole variety of things from my meditation practice, exercising, saving money, losing weight, and on and one.
My big, scary intentions for 2012 don’t look so big and scary now – well, maybe still just a little bit.
Since I am still in the process of reviewing 2011 and preparing for 2012 I am not ready to share what I’ve chosen for my theme or my guiding words, but I will share with you some of the words and themes that have guided my in recent years.
2007: Awakening and opening. This is the year I simply and gently started to acknowledge the things I needed and wanted.
2008: Discovery, healing and forgiveness. Even though I had started to acknowledge my dreams the prior year and had started to move forward I realized I had a lot of internal healing to do first. This was a very difficult and emotional year.
2009: Creativity, relationships, exploration and fun. This is the year I launched The Dreaming Café, attended my very first creativity/art workshop and resigned from my full-time day-job. Several new friendships were born this year, too.
2010: Exploration continued as a theme, small steps was another and growing into my vision was my third theme.
Do you choose New Year’s Resolutions or use the guiding words and themes process? How do you prepare for the New year?
Do you feel like the idea of 52 weeks, One Day at a Time could help you achieve what you want to be, do and have in 2012?