Before you make a single resolution, you need to reflect—and move beyond— what happened in 2015. Here's how.
When the New Year arrives, you may be trying to break free from the holiday fog of parties, gift giving, visiting guests, and a hefty credit card bill.
And like many of us, you might decide to set your New Year’s resolutions, only to let a negative and defeatist attitude to take over. You might think, ‘I do this every year and I never accomplish much.’ The lack of enthusiasm you experience might be less about your goals and more about impressions from your past.
A small child has no doubt when she or he sets goals. In fact, a child’s limitations are almost nonexistent. She might say out loud to a friend, “I’m going to get a pony this year.” And she believes it. Even if the pony doesn’t come into her life, she simply shrugs her shoulders and says, “I’ll get a puppy then.” Rare is the child who laments and becomes cynical about the future.
Before you start making that list of goals and resolutions, work on clearing past negative impressions from your year. It will help open the space for 2016.
Make a List of What You Accomplished in 2015
Sometimes our minds focus on what didn’t work out. Ignore the bumps and start with the positive instead. Think back to where you were at the beginning of the year and list everything you achieved—even the small things.
Maybe you started a new healthy routine, formed a new friendship, or began a spiritual practice. List everything such as healing a relationship, starting a new job, paying off a debt, taking a new class or trying a hobby, volunteering, or spending more time with your kids.
Brainstorm all these positive accomplishments and write them down. Post them in a place that you can see daily to remind yourself of all the great things you achieved in 2015.
Make a List of Disappointments or Setbacks
Once you’ve completed the first task, you’re ready to write down the disappointments or setbacks from 2015. List events that were directly in your control as well as situations you didn’t have direct control over. An example of something within your control might be, “I wasn’t able to stop smoking.” Something out of your direct control might be a death in the family. You don’t need to write down every single one, only write down those that which stand out or still have an emotional hold over you.
Find Lessons Learned From Setbacks
Take the list of disappointments and setbacks and go through each one looking at what effect they’ve had on your life. There might be lessons you learned through these setbacks.
A great way to heal from negative experiences is to learn from them. Life gives us tests. And when we pass the tests, we get to move on to the next level. Even if the experience is painful or still hurts, try to look at it objectively and see what you can learn from it.
For example, you can learn from the disappointment of losing out on a job promotion or raise.
Maybe your behavior at work—coming late to work, spending too much time on social media, or talking with colleagues—contributed to your boss’s decision. Or perhaps you can prepare for a future promotion by taking a class. Your greatest lesson, in this case, might be to give 100 percent while you’re at work without complaining to prove your dedication to the job.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself in this process:
- What could I have done differently to experience another outcome? (Sometimes we are directly responsible by our impatience, deep emotions, or carelessness, etc.)
- How could I have processed this experience differently?
- Can I see this event from a different perspective?
- What can I do to better prepare for a similar event in the future?
- What is the greatest lesson I can take away from this experience?
Forgive Whomever You Need to Forgive
Forgiveness is freedom. Remember that forgiveness is for you. It’s the only way to unlock the bonds that hold you to your past. Extending forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re accepting what happened or the behavior of the other person.
It means you’re extending grace in the knowledge that no one is perfect. You don’t even have to tell the other person that you’ve forgiven him or her. You can simply hold the forgiveness in your heart. If the relationship is ongoing, healing will occur with the three spoken words, “I forgive you.”
Have Gratitude for the Lessons Received
Give thanks for what you’ve learned. A sense of gratitude for life’s hard lessons tells the universe, “Thank you. I got it. Now I’m ready to move forward.” If possible, find a way to serve someone else through your setback or disappointment. You can find the opportunity to give support to someone who may be experiencing the same problem. Gratitude not only means, “I got the lesson.” It also means, “How can I bless another through my experience?”
Create a Ritual to Let Go of Past Hurt
When I teach emotional healing workshops as part of the Perfect Health program, I have my students write to people who have done them wrong or to a loved one who has passed. Writing is a great way to let your feelings out. After we write the letters, we either burn them or rip them up, and send the negative energy away.
Any type of ritual you create will help release the negative energy. You can clear a physical space in your home, buy yourself flowers, or get a massage.
Keep a Positive Outlook for the Future
Once you’ve worked through these steps and processed any emotions or impressions, it’s over. There is no need to revisit it again. The slate is clean and you can explore new possibilities with an open mind and heart.