Many people focus on New Years’ Resolutions and end up feeling disappointed in themselves and depressed by St. Patrick’s Day (or sooner) because they have fallen short of the lofty goals they set for themselves. Instead of (or before) focusing on New Years’ Resolutions, I think it is helpful to take a look back on the year in December and see where I’ve been. I consider this a part of my gratitude practice. Here are some suggestions for you:
- List 5 Things You Are Proud Of. Maybe these are things you overcame during the year, maybe they are new friendships, challenges conquered, goals achieved. I’m sure if you try, you can find at least 5.
- List 5 Things That Worked. What things worked for you this year? Did you start walking to work so that you increased your daily step average? Maybe you got up early in the morning to meditate before work. Perhaps you joined a book club. Identify at least 5 things you did this year that made your life easier, more enjoyable, or more fun.
- List 5 Things That Didn’t Work. Which things didn’t work for you this year? Maybe they were new things you tried that just didn’t work well. Perhaps you kept doing something this year that didn’t serve your life well. You might have tried something new and found that it didn’t work as well as you expected, or found that it wasn’t necessary.
- List 5 Things You Are Grateful For. Maybe these are things that happened to you. Maybe they are things that you made happen. Maybe they are things that you finally noticed. Whatever it is, I’m sure you can think of at least 5 things for which you are grateful.
- List 5 Things That You Are Tolerating. Think of this as things that you are “putting up with.” These are usually things that waste your time, sap your energy, and decrease your joy. They might be major things like living in a place you don’t like, working at a job that doesn’t feed your soul, or staying in an unhealthy relationship. They could be much more minor, like home improvement projects that never get completed, tools or appliances that don’t work, or computer programs that drive you crazy. Make an honest list of what you are “putting up with.”
At the end of each year, I do a personal and professional inventory. I fill out these lists, reflect on the year just completed, and then I’m ready to plan for the new year. I give myself a pat on the back for the things I’ve achieved, resolve myself to do away with the stuff that just doesn’t work, and look forward to achieving new goals in the New Year and being more present in my own life. Taking inventory has an amazing way of invigorating and centering me. I highly recommend it!