new year tidings

How are you ringing in the new year and the new decade? I don't mean celebrations for New Year's Eve, I mean - what rituals do you do to reflect upon the year past and plan forward? What things do you do to make you feel cleansed, fortified and prepared for an even better year ahead? What about your life and habits do you seek to alter for the better each year?

New year's resolutions are not my thing - too shallow, too wrought with difficulty, and way too arbitrary to commit to for an entire year. But each year, I do try to do some things to help me commit to the new upcoming year with excellence and zeal. This last year has been a tough one for me personally, so these little rituals will assist me even more than usual to chin up and strengthen for 2011.

1. Reflect

Each year, I make a list of things I've done/accomplished in the year past. Usually this starts with a timeline for each month - any travel, events, accomplishments, anything emotionally significant, it all gets written down. I usually gaze upon this list with incredulous wonder - how did I fit all that in, and no WONDER I'm exhausted!

Then, I take the chronological list and pull out themes and lessons learnt - usually I can find a few major learning points through the year. I also like to think about key areas I've grown in, and what I'd like to remember the year for. This applies especially to times of difficulty - if we think hard enough, we can find most trying times to be areas of huge learning.

After this exercise, I usually feel like I've been mentally spring-cleaned, and ready to face the future, knowing that my year past has been full of richness and life.

2. Improve my lifestyle

Each year, I think about how I can improve my lifestyle. This often comes in different forms. One year, I decided to drink 2 litres of water each day, and that habit has absolutely stuck, thankfully. Another year, I decided vegetables were my friends, and now I actually love them.

A really nice thing to do for yourself each new year is a simple one but often under-done by most people - throw out ALL your underwear and socks that have holes, aren't quite right, aren't loved by you. The items you always ignore in favour of the good stuff. Then go out, and buy a week's worth of THE GOOD STUFF - wool socks, seamless undies, whatever floats your boat. It's a wonderful way to start the new year, and a simple thing that makes getting dressed every morning an absolute joy.

This year, due to injury, I've spent a lot of time at home - it made me rethink my lounge attire. Why do I relegate ugly, ill-fitting track pants to home time - a time where I should feel MOST comfortable and at ease? So on my trips to Asia this year, I stocked up on silk lounge pants, 100% cotton camisoles, and life at home is ten times better now. A hundred times. A thousand times.

This year, I started making my bed every morning, and cooking more of our meals for health. S and I also explored many restaurants off a list we made last year in Melbourne. We also healthied up my finances, and helped me figure out what my true passion in work and life was. I also learnt to grow plants and garden, as well as became more committed to my home (as opposed to my work). I can think of a few things for next year too, but that's another blog post.

The new year is a fabulous time to rethink your values, daily actions, and make healthier choices. Do it now!

3. Plan the new year

I like to take out my new datebook for the new year, and populate it with all the events coming up in the new year. From travel to events, goals, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. I'm sure most people do this, but I like to go an extra step.

I like to jot down some goals - not resolutions, but just some loose goals. They can be simple like "learn to code CSS", or emotional "choose the kinder option daily", or value driven "be authentic to everyone". They could be experiential, "travel to 1 new place", "eat one new cuisine" or a general rule "treat your body well, everyday". I don't consider these rules, but it does serve as a good checklist for your weekly reflection - to glance over them and think about whether you're fulfilling the destiny you've set yourself.

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I'll likely post my musings on the year past and the goals for the year forward in the next week or so, and I'd love to hear your musings on your own New Year rituals too!