Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.Margaret J. Wheatley, American Author
New Year’s is a time when we often feel a renewed sense of excitement for what’s to come, a chance to do better this year, to finally make those changes we know we need to make. Then the year picks up speed and our resolutions are left lying in the dust, only to be rediscovered the following year or, more often, buried in the goings on of daily life.
It’s now the third week of February. And how well are we doing on those New Year’s resolutions?
Much of what people tend to center New Year’s resolutions around relates to willpower and motivation. This is a big mistake according to B.J. Fogg, a Behavior Scientist at Stanford University. In a CNBC article about keeping new year planning simple, he states, “You can’t do hard things when your motivation sags. It maps back to evolutionary psychology. We are wired to put effort into the things that matter most.”
So what does this mean for our ambitious resolutions to be better? It means they fall by the wayside when the going gets even just a little tough. What’s the best approach, then, for how to prepare for the new year?
2021 was a hard year for many people, and 2022 is off to a bit of a rough start with news of the ongoing pandemic. Instead of your traditional plans to set resolutions, you may find it more helpful this year – and perhaps every year – to take a step back, reflect, and then commit to resetting. Centering ourselves in this way brings our mental wellbeing into focus, allowing us to declutter our lives and minds to make way for a deeper form of self-care that has staying power.
Here are five ways to reflect and recenter yourself for 2022:
Let it go . . .
There are always things we manage to hold onto in our lives despite the fact they’re not serving us. Is there something throwing you out of balance? Material attachments that you can let go of to make space for what matters? People who are dragging you down? Come up with a list of three to five things that are no longer serving you.
The best approach here is not to overthink. Clear your head by closing your eyes and breathing deeply for a minute. The first things that pop into your mind upon opening your eyes are likely the strongest pieces that need to be released. Set an intention to let go of these items as you move into the new year.
Focus on the Positive
It’s easy to focus on the hardships we’ve endured both individually and collectively, especially during such trying times like we’ve experienced recently. However, research shows that focusing on the positive can get you a lot farther.
A recent neuroscience study published in the journal Emotion shows a link between gratitude and life satisfaction. Najma Khorrami, a global public health professional and author of this Psychology Today article, states, “…gratitude’s ability to inspire and motivate, leading to positive behaviors and adaptations, are key parts to leading a successful life rich with well-being.”
Now that you’ve committed to letting a few things go, take some moments to reflect on what went well last year, and write a list of 20 things you’re grateful for. Consider incorporating the practice of writing one thing you’re grateful for each day during your morning and/or evening routine. Making this a habit has the potential to greatly improve your quality of life.
Declutter and Back-up Your Digital Life
While this might seem like a very practical item to appear on this list, decluttering can also do wonders for your mental clarity. Set aside a chunk of time to do any or all of the following:
- Delete any unneeded messages from your email inbox(es) and archive the rest
- Unsubscribe from any email lists or newsletters that are clogging up your inbox
- Unfollow any people on social media who leave you feeling uninspired
- Clear your desktop of unnecessary files
- Back up your hard drive!
You’ll be amazed by the relief you feel once these tasks are completed!
Make a Plan to Incorporate a Mindfulness Practice Into Your Life
This is something that many people desire but struggle to have. The advice here is to make it easy on yourself. A mindfulness practice doesn’t have to look like an hour of dedicated seated meditation every day.
Instead, it can look like a short breath routine that you do each morning, eating without distractions, or even just being more mindful about how you do simple tasks like washing the dishes. Try incorporating essential oils into your living and work spaces to impart a sense of calm and relaxation into your day.
We have constant distractions surrounding us and our minds tend to race from one thing to the next. Liberating ourselves from these thoughts, even if only for a moment, allows us to be present and serves as a mental reset each day.
Define and Understand Your Core Values
Your core values are the guiding principles of your life. Take time to think through what your top five core values are. Here’s a good list to help you get you started. You might find it helpful to focus on your top ten initially, then and to rank these against each other to refine to your top five.
Write these where you’ll see them regularly. Understanding your values can help when making difficult decisions. If you’re in need of some personal reinvention, having these core values in mind can help you lead a life that is more aligned with what is truly important to you.
There is no better time to reflect and recenter than now. So sit down with your favorite beverage and a pen and paper, eliminate those distractions, and work through these pieces steps to set yourself up for an aligned, mindful, and positive 2022!