A Better Way For The New Year Than Resolutions
How reflection and vision can equip us for a new year with ambitious goals and consistent growth.
Less than two weeks into the year and already tired of New Year’s resolutions? Enter a more purposeful, holistic version: reflection on the year prior and vision for the year ahead. After seeing a friend share a template for this four years ago, I’ve begun sitting down in the first few weeks of the year and giving some much-needed attention to where I’ve been and where I’d like to go. As we talked about two weeks ago, sometimes writing down a plan is the best way to stay on track with said plan; I hope you’ll find value in the following prompts to make the next step of that plan for yourself.
Summarize the past year.
Set a timer and just write for 3-5 minutes. Don’t think too hard, just dump your thoughts on the page. What were the big moments? The small moments which turned out to be big moments? Capture overall feelings and lessons from the year behind.
When and how did things go as planned? When did they not go as planned, but still turned out in a pleasant or meaningful way? When was a prayer or hope from the beginning of the year answered?
What pain did you experience this year? How did that shape you? Which were in your control, and how will you avoid repeating those mistakes? Which weren’t in your control, and how did you make peace?
Habits, apps, places that brought fulfillment + productivity + purpose. Actions that were a vote for the person you most want to be, put them here.
What didn’t work?
Habits + apps + tendencies to drop. Actions that were a vote against the person you most want to be, list those here.
Key message of the year.
If you picked a word for the year at the beginning, did you live it out? Did another word become more prominent? What themes kept showing up? How did you grow? How do you want to remember this year?
Summarize your hope for the new year.
Again, set a timer for 3-5 minutes and just write your heart out. When the year is complete, what do you want to say about who you were, how you loved, and what you did?
What roles will you fill this year? (Student, brother, girlfriend, employee, etc). What will those roles look like for you? Make these a series of “I will” statements for each role you fill.
What will each season of the year bring for you? Use this space to map out what you expect to occur, such as finishing a school year, attending an event, or going on a trip. This is also a good time to think about specific goals you have in mind: maybe it’s to complete the 75 Day Hard, read 10 books, learn to meal prep, or some other goal you’d like to check off the list this year.
Intentions + Habits
Refer back to what worked and didn’t work from last year and set intentions for what you’ll continue doing, what you’ll start doing, and what you’ll stop doing. If you’re already doing something, how can you do it better? Focus on process (such as to exercise 3-5 times per week) instead of outcome (such as to lose x pounds) and you’ll find it’s more sustainable. This year, I’ve also included a breakdown of which habits to focus on first and then stack them as the year goes on; it’s hard to start doing ten new things every week, but by taking on one new habit every few weeks, we can build our habits in a more consistent and reliable way.
As a person of faith, I like to begin with prayer, weave spiritual growth throughout these prompts, and then end with a prayer for the Lord to guide my steps and my vision. I don’t usually write down my prayers at other times but I find it valuable to go back and read how I prayed each year; I find my faith strengthened by seeing the ways the Lord has moved in my life, answering prayer in ways I could never expect but can see clearly now how it was for the best. Feel free to skip this portion if it’s not for you or replace in whatever way you see fit.
Once I’ve journaled through all the prompts, I don’t just leave it in a document and never look at it again; I refer back to my thoughts regularly throughout the year. Keep yourself accountable, share with a friend so they can be part of your growth each year, and rest in the knowledge that this new year is not aimless for you.
After your journal your thoughts or talk through these prompts with a friend, share your key takeaways with the community here or reach out to me on Instagram or Twitter. I’d love to hear what your next steps are in 2023.