NEW YEAR is an interesting time - both embraced and dreaded. Embraced as a celebration of new starts, opportunities and progress, dreaded as it marks the passing of time, reminding us of lost opportunities, youth and loved ones. And both perspectives are true for us all. As I get older, finding the balance between the two has become harder, probably because we inevitable clock up more losses with age.

I generally embrace this time though as for me it symbolises a fresh start. It’s an opportunity to assess and review the previous year, allowing the laying to rest of old ghosts and regrets, and setting a new course for the year ahead.

If we can intercept and harness our end of year contemplations we can set ourselves up for a more enjoyable and constructive New Year.

Putting 2015 to rest

I love watching all those review programmes on TV at this time of year. I’m always amazed by how much has occurred that I have forgotten about. Did all that really happen this year? I have the same experience when I go through my diary. It’s a really great way to review your own personal highlights and ‘learning experiences’.

Set aside some time to go week by week through your diary for the year that’s ended. Make a list of all the great things you have done and what you learned. If you remember getting lovely feedback, search it out whether it was sent via e-mail or in a publication. Make sure you keep a copy.

I think we should all have an achievements file, where we keep a copy of every good thing anyone ever said about us including every great review and appreciative e-mail. Then, when one of the not so good days come along, we can pull it out and look through it to remind ourselves of what we can do.

For the less successful diary events, we can take a moment to think about what we learned from them, what we would do differently in future, identify any lessons or information that would be useful to hang onto from this experience - keeping the useful bits then discarding the rest, putting them behind us and making a decision to forget about them.

If you go through the whole year like this, you will be impressed with all you have learned and how far you have come. It is so easy to forget where you started from and this is a great way to remind yourself.

Setting yourself up for 2016

Once you have a sense of just how much can happen in one year, it’s good to turn your attention to what you’d like to happen in the year to come.

None of us has a crystal ball, so our plans for the year ahead have to be flexible, ideally a combination of vague directional long term important life goals, and some shorter term, more tangible goals for the next weeks, months and year ahead.

  • What do you want more of?
  • What do you want less of?
  • What do you really care about?
  • What did you really enjoy last year?
  • Where did the money come from last year?
  • What opportunities can you now explore?
  • What calls do you need to make?
  • Who do you need to get to know better?
  • What experience do you need to gain?

Answering some of these questions will help you start to see what kind of goals you need to set for the year ahead.

Finding your balance

Dealing with past regrets and making plans for the future are a great way to allow you to focus more on what you are actually doing right now, and hopefully enjoy it more.

It’s worth mentioning here that the strategies most of us use to make ourselves miserable is to fret about things that have happened in the past, or which may happen in the future. When we are ‘in the moment’ we are experiencing what is happening around us and reacting to it, whether those experiences are good or bad, we don’t usually feel miserable at the time, we are too busy focusing on what to do.

Obviously, learning from the past and planning for the future are very important and unless you are planning a career change to Tibetan monk it’s not practical to imagine a life where you spend all of your time in the moment.

It is important however, to learn to step back from all the planning and worrying and to make sure that you do have an enjoyable present, finding a balance that works for you between all three time zones is your best chance of having a happy and prosperous New Year.

Happy New Year!

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