The New Year brings a sense of excitement and hope to most of us, but by the middle of January our spirits often wane. The dark, cold days of winter take a bite out of our enthusiasm and we often fall off our New Year’s resolutions soon after we set them in motion. So how can we rekindle the same sense of motivation and promise we felt on New Year’s Day all year long?
Rather than focus on what we perceive as broken or in need of fixing, what if we started the new year by uncovering what is positive and meaningful in our lives? The best way to accomplish this is by reflecting over the past year—taking stock if you will. Surprisingly, by looking backwards, we gain an understanding of our wisdom, values, passions and gratitude, which can help us live our lives more purposefully going forward. And as a bonus, those pesky New Year’s resolutions that somehow make us feel defeated before we even get started, often take on new meaning, focus and even success when we work from our personal strengths.
Here’s why. Resolutions tend to make us feel that we need to shore up our weaknesses or fix something that we perceive as negative or flawed about ourselves. Advertisements and social media make it easy for us to buy into the concept of self-fixes, diets and exercise. But how rewarding or inspirational is that? And who says we need fixing anyway? Why not begin instead from a positive position and set our priorities for the new year based on how we wish to fully utilize our unique talents, strengths and passions?
As humans, we’ve been conditioned to set personal goals and focus our efforts on where we are heading and how fast we can get there. What if instead, we took a few minutes each year to reflect and truly understand what makes each of us uniquely human, to acknowledge how we overcame life’s struggles and became more resilient, and to determine what makes us feel joyful and grateful? When we take time to be introspective, we gain a better understanding of ourselves as extraordinary beings equipped with unique gifts and strengths to help us travel more purposefully along our personal life journeys and to have a positive impact on our world.
This may sound like a daunting task because most of us haven’t had an opportunity to utilize a reflective approach. However, it is actually quite easy. Each January, I set aside one hour and respond to five simple questions that help me reflect upon the past year and focus on what really matters as I prepare to live the new year on purpose and become the best human I can be.
- What was the most compelling ah-ha moment, life lesson or nugget of wisdom I gleaned from this past year’s experiences?
- What did I value the most or what brought me joy last year?
- How did I make a difference through my time, talents or resources and whom did I most impact?
- If this next year is somehow my last one on earth, how do I wish to be remembered?
- As I begin a new year, what will I do to live more on purpose and to be a better human?
I challenge you to give it a try or explore our Legacy Journey® resources for additional questions and prompts to assist you. In an hour, you will begin to understand and appreciate your life wisdom, values, passions and gratitude as gained from your life as lived so far. You will also uncover what really matters in your life which will help you put meaningful life priorities in order. Then go ahead: eat well, exercise and continue to enhance your life. But do these things because you want to remain strong, purposeful and resilient, rather than because you feel you need to fix a flaw or change something negative about yourself.
If you engage this simple, but effective approach, I know you will be surprised to find that at the end of 2017, all the personal flaws or negatives you were initially trying to fix, will fade away. Your more purposeful self will help you feel more fulfilled, joyful and positive. And when January rolls around once again, you will feel energized and inspired to continue your quest to live on purpose and tackle another new year without those pesky resolutions.
Cheers to you—an extraordinary human living your life on purpose with joy, meaning and gratitude!
P.S. If you’re interested in truly living your Life on Purpose, our beautiful Life Slices will provide you with 52 inspirational messages and images to help guide you throughout the year.
Tracie Bluse Ward is the president and founder of Celebrations of Life in Minneapolis, MN. The company serves individuals, families, certified facilitators and organizations both nationally and internationally as they seek meaningful ways to live life with intention and share their values, wisdom and generosity with loved ones and future generations. She encourages you to share your Life on Purpose moments or to explore additional life purpose and legacy resources at www.celebrationsoflife.net.