I think the shifting of the New Year from the autumn, as the Celts had it, to the middle of winter, did us all a bit of a disservice. Somehow when the days are at their shortest it seems the most difficult to summon the energy to plan for a new year. As a bit of an experiment I made some of my New Year decisions in October this year and it did feel much more gentle.
Even so, I am not immune to the mood that strikes every December, to review, reflect, and re emerge ready to face another year. When I was a little younger I wasn’t so aware of this pattern, but now that I’ve seen the cycle repeat a few more times I have built up a little bag of tricks to turn to so that December is more of a delight and less of a disaster.
One of my favourite techniques has been to use the “Best Year Yet“plan as developed by JinnyDitzler .While looking for the link for the book I discovered that this programme has become very extensive, with coaches worldwide . However, I don’t have any experience of that and only ever used the book on my own. It usually takes me the best part of an afternoon to work through. Preferably with something nice to drink, that won’t fog the brain, elderflower cordial perhaps and some calm supportive music ( cello does it for me, this is not the moment for gypsy jazz). It can be quite a tough exercise to do, especially the initial stages where you are considering all the “failures” – however I invariably have found that my acheivements were much more numerous than I thought. And finally you are left with some clear plans for the coming year. You can also do the whole exercise free online here –
The Artist’s Way This suggestion is not specifically for a new year, but if you are feeling at all “stuck” with finding a new direction then I really suggest working through the Artist’s Way. This is not a new book and many, many people all over the world have worked with it. Either use it on your own or find one or two people who would also like to do it and meet up once a week to discuss your experiences. I’ve found it very beneficial both ways, but meeting up weekly was more fun ( and there is the added support from working with others). By the way, don’t be put off if you don’t consider yourself ” an Artist” – I think this book has a much wider relevance than that. The website link gives some information on the basic ideas so that you can see if it appeals to you.
Choose a “Word of the Year” instead of making umpteen new year resolutions. I did this myself for 2008 and found it a very powerful experience. I haven’t decided on my word for 2009 but will definitely do this again.
Simple Abundance – by Sarah Ban Breathnach. This is the book that kick started a lot of the other suggestions for me, though I only realised this with hindsight. At a rather low point I heard some journalists on Radio Scotland discussing “self help” books and one woman ( I wish I knew who it was ) said that the only one she really enjoyed was Simple Abundance. With a short essay for each day of the year, this is a lovely book to start in January. Some days include exercises that can become daily habits that guide you and unearth quite unexpected ideas. My favourites were the gratitude journal , writing five things you are grateful for every night. And the collaging. Collaging has to be one of the best tools for creating movement. Of course, as with many books, if you were to implement the whole lot you’d have little time left over for anything else, so it is definitely a case of taking the aspects that appeal to you and disregarding the others.
Find someone/something to help in 2009. It sometimes feels as though the whole world needs saving, now more so than ever. I’ve realised that one way to try and counteract that feeling of powerlessness is to focus my efforts on helping one person or cause. Still a drop in the ocean, but I can see that my efforts have some effect. I really admire the support that Jen Lemen has given to her friend , and ultimately a whole extended family. Other ideas that appeal to me are Kiva , especially as the majority of the people are artisans. The whole idea is summed up in the well known tale about starfish ( If you are not familiar with it, this is one site (there are many) that has the story.
Use some of the time between Christmas and the New Year to review your surroundings. Get rid of clutter – “Everything that isn’t an absolute Yes is a No”. Find new homes for things you no longer need or want, give to charity shops or recycle/freecycle. Getting rid of clutter has a miraculous effect on energy levels. A good resource for getting moving with this is “Clear your Clutter with Feng Shui” by Karen Kingston.
Dance – or learn to Dance. Dance is taking over the world. Wherever you look, people are dancing. There are so many styles it would be difficult not to find something that appeals. Ceilidh dancing is having a real resurgence in Scotland. Salsa dancing is round every corner. Tango has spread far beyond the Argentinian borders. Admittedly you do have to go to Hungary for the best Czardas dances. Ballroom dancing is on primetime TV. When you travel ,dance opens up all kinds of opportunities to meet locals, sometimes dance can even be the motivation to travel in the first place. Maybe number 7 should actually be number 1 – because it is impossible not to have a spring in your step if you’re dancing !
Do you have a favourite method for reviewing the past year or preparing for the coming year ? I’d love to hear your suggestions.