It’s a slow rebuilding week for many people; work schedules are lighter and the Holiday frenzy is waning. Countless “best of” and “year in review” listicles are popping up in this slow news week.

While you don’t need a new calendar to reflect on your life or seek improvement/change, the end of the year and a stretch of cold dark months ahead does lend itself well to using this week to put 2011 to rest and prepare for 2012.

I found this Reflection Worksheet a nice way to think about everything I acchompished and everything that challenged me in 2011. Here are the questions:

2011 Reflection

  1. What do you want to acknowledge yourself for in 2011?

What did you create?
What challenges did you face with courage and strength?
What promises did you keep?
What brave choices did you make?
What are you proud of?

2. What is there to grieve about 2011?
What was disappointing?
What was scary?
What was hard?
What can you forgive yourself for?

3. What else do you need to say about the year to declare it complete?
The next step is to say out loud, “I declare 2011 complete!”
How do you feel? If you don’t feel quite right, there might be one more thing to say…

4. The final step is to consider your primary focus for the year to come. What is your primary intention or theme for 2012?
Is it the year of joy?
The year of self-care?
The year of kicking ass?
The year of ease?
“2012 is my year of ________”

That last question leads nicely into planning for 2012. While many people make New Years Resolutions (about 45% of Americans), but more than half of them don’t keep them. There is, it seems, something so innate in us that simultaneously  wants to improve ourselves while setting giving ourselves permission to stay exactly the same.

I really like the idea of having one primary focus for the year, rather than a laundry list of unrelated ideas. I’ve done this for the past couple of years: my only resolution for 2010 was “be happier” and my only resolution for 2011 was to be better about staying in touch with my family and friends. Did I falter on these? For sure.  But I think I understand now what could make me more successful on my 2012 goal (2012 is my year of trying my best): defining what my goal means, how I’ll measure/define being successful at it and what concrete things I’ll do.

A great example of this method is The Happiness Project. The author, Gretchen Rubin, has even made a downloadable version of her resolutions chart . Her overarching theme for the year was to “be happier” and from there she figured out things that would improve her happiness (getting rid of clutter, quit nagging, etc) and then devoted one month to actions that accomplished that, while keeping her overall goal in mind.

My 2012 goal of “trying my best” has a lot of meanings: not letting myself get distracted when I’m working, learning new things, being proactive, letting go of jealousy,  being a kinder, more patient person, letting myself off the hook when things go wrong, and more.  I plan to write my 2012 goal and post it on my bulletin board at my desk, so I will be reminded of it everyday.

Another great approach to New Years Resolutions is a list like this one: 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself. Sometimes the best approach to what you want to do is a focus on what you don’t want to do anymore. Maybe a theme for 2012 could be “the year of letting go” and you could devote each month to something you need to let go of.

If, like many people, you have resolutions of “being healthier,” or “losing weight,” think about how you can approach it (taking out meat or soda from your diet a few days a week, signing up for a beginner’s yoga workshop!, going to bed a half hour earlier each night). If health and yoga are part of your 2012 plans, of course I’d love to help (contact me and we’ll work on a resolution plan!) And if you need further inspiration, check out this awesome 91 year old yoga teacher.

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