Someone very dear to me admitted something tough: she hates New Year’s Eve. She said she often cries during the countdown. And when friends say “oh, you’re crying because you’re so happy!” she is actually crying because she’s upset. When I asked why, she really answered. She told me that the end of the year feels like a giant reminder of what she didn’t get done, all of the things left on her to-do list, all of the people she’s let down – including herself. “When the countdown starts, all I can think of is: 10 – the amount of people I’ve let down. 9 – the things I said I’d do and didn’t…. etc”. I was shocked! And yet, I understood.
Endings to anything – a year, a relationship, a project, a week – can feel like a failure. Especially if we didn’t do, be, or succeed enough in our minds. That “enough-ness”, though, will never feel full with tasks. I cautioned my friend that she will always feel this way unless she sets an intention to find her innate worth. A worth that does not depend on accomplishments or accolades, goals or awards. Because then celebrating those goals and taking inventory of what you want to do better next time doesn’t feel so life defining. It doesn’t mean you’re a good or bad person. It just is. And those accomplishments and missed opportunities can be taken at face value, to be enjoyed and learned from, instead of relied on or cried on. I can confidently suggest this because I’m on that very journey now. I am a do-er. And doing big, loud, exciting things defined me as a “good” person for a long time. And when I didn’t reach a goal, or didn’t get the gig, or missed the mark, I thought I was a “bad” person. Letting go of those definitions has opened up a whole world of possibility to me, not the least of which is having a much better New Year’s Eve.
Once you let go of the definition of good or bad based on what you did or didn’t do in a year, I highly suggest that you DO take a look back at your year, and then forward to the next. The turn of a year on the calendar may not actually “mean” anything, but it is a really joyous opportunity to take stock, reflect, celebrate, and learn. (You can actually do this at any time, not just at the end of a year.) Because I was relying on “doing” for my worth in the past, I often moved on to the next task and then the next and then the next without ever really reflecting on the past tasks. And, most importantly, without giving myself any kind of credit for the growth I was doing, the lessons I was learning, or the love I was creating.
If you’re like me the beginning of a new year feels like a great time to look back at the beauty and the truth of some part of your recent history: a year. If you’re also like me, you may be tempted to judge that time in your recent history as “good” or “bad”, and then yourself as “good” or “bad” as a result. And if you’re like me, you may realize that you are not a “good” or “bad” person based on what you did in a year. Tasks do not define you. The experiences you have had may make up your life, but they are not who you are. And, if you look at the experiences on a deeper level than “what I did”, you may just find out that “who you are” is more than enough.
Do you have any rituals or tasks for ending a year and starting a new one? Here are some suggestions from Hurray Kimmay readers:
Clear out the old, invite in the new
The past two years I have used the time off from work to go through all of my house, top to bottom to decide what gets tossed, what gets donated, and what I want to keep going into the new year. I also write down my goals, and some plans on how to achieve them. And of course at least a movie marathon, or Twilight Zone marathon.
Treat yourself well
I don’t really love dealing with crowds, so I made a tradition of staying in on New Year’s with a good meal, movie, and bottle of wine.
Organize your life
For me, I use the time between Christmas and New Years to get organized – going through my closet to see what can go and what I don’t wear anymore, going through my piles of makeup to toss or giveaway things I’ve never used, stock up on the things I love the most, and try to go into the new year with a clean and organized house, office, and mind!
We always eat collard (or other) greens and black eyed peas.
Although resolutions are a big part of New Years, my version is I always try and think of something I want to LEAVE in the current year. Some habit or feeling, then when thinking about the New Resolution I try and pick one very easy practical thing I want to implement (last year it was make more of an effort to remember/ plan for loved ones birthdays) and I also try and pick one Word/ feeling I want to embody/ call in for the New Year. I try and create “resolutions” without letting it get into to the weight- loss or self deprecating realm.
Make Way for the New Year
Fill up a dumpster! We used to do this in corporate and now I do it in my home office. Week between Christmas and New Years is the perfect time to go through files and shred things I don’t need, clean out my office and then tackle digital files. If I can fill up a trash can or two I go into the new year feeling ready.
Review your Joy
This year it fell off a bit with my move, but I do the jar of positive things that happened to me during the year. I read them on NYE before I go out and remember the joys of the year.
Krista’s photos of her jar are below. From left to right: just started, nice and full, and reading each one!
More Ways to Say Hurray: Reflect Back & Look Forward
Buddy Up. Denise Duffield Thomas’ End of Year Ritual to Finish the Year With a Bang, was shared with me by a friend and colleague, Elizabeth. This ritual utilizes the power of witness and connection by using a partner, which is a big differentiator from other rituals.
Make a Vision Board. I am a HUGE vision board fan. I highly suggest making one on your own, or with a group. I have lead several vision board gatherings, and have attended even more. Building and then sharing your dreams in the presence of others is truly magical. Plus, the boards that now live up in my office and my kitchen have “come true” in more creative ways than I could have imagined.
Clean House. Clear out the old and make room for the new. You can do this with stuff, habits, people, thought patterns, etc. Many people love to physically clean house at the end of a year to make room for the literal things and the non-literal “things” that they want to bring in. I certainly do! I’m currently reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and it has made a huge difference in how I look at the things in my home. I legit cried a few times reading it already. It offers up the opportunity for releasing more than just the things in your home, but also things in your inner life.
Ask Yourself. Two of my friends and colleagues suggested this one, so I’m giving it a go! They used a list of 50 questions to reflect back on 2016, and look forward to 2017. These questions go beyond “what did you do/accomplish/produce”. That makes me say hurray. As mentioned above, I am currently working with my coach on releasing the connection between my self worth and how much/how good I “do”. In the past, I’d have a list a mile long of what I did, and still felt like it wasn’t enough. Like I wasn’t enough. This questionnaire has questions like “What topics did you most enjoy learning about?”, “What new things did you discover about yourself?”, “What was the most important lesson you learned?”. Sure there are a few about what you did, but these other questions really provide a quality over quantity route that I’m more interested in taking. (PS: there’s even a 5 page workbook that you can download!)
Forgive. Yourself, your family, the rude guy on the subway, the people you disagree with, the people who have let you down, yourself for letting others down. I have been learning a lot about forgiveness, and I’m sure I’ll keep learning. This is not a one and done kind of thing. 2016 was the year that I started forgiving myself. It’s a practice that I am still working on, and I’ve shared the basics of it with you in a few posts, but this blog post will walk you through how to lovingly forgive yourself for misunderstandings and judgements.
Surrender. A big big big big lesson I’m learning is the power of surrender. I used to think surrender meant rolling over and letting life happen to you. Instead, I realize that it’s getting out of my own way, and going with the powerful flow that life has already picked for me. I have this very strong sense of being carried by God toward the bigger and better life plan than I could have ever created. Surrender your past year, and your future year. Letting go of the control and putting trust in the process of surrendering has been very hard, and very very very rewarding. I highly suggest reading The Surrender Experiment, and giving it a go.
Give Thanks. I love the idea above about a gratitude jar. Whether you keep it in a jar, a journal, or a box – it’s an awesome idea. And may I suggest also showing gratitude for the not-so-obvious-in-fact-it-was-kinda-awful stuff? 2016 had plenty of tough stuff and beautiful stuff – and sometimes the difference is smaller than we imagine. For more information on this one, I’ve laid out the reasons to say thank you for the not so hurray things, and my four steps to do it in my article, How to Give Thanks for the Tough Stuff.
Celebrate! I go between the quiet night in and the crazy fun house party year to year on New Year’s Eve. No matter how you choose to celebrate, bring some joy to this special time. Celebrating can look like a toast and a cheers, or a bubble bath and a good book. Do something special, treat yourself, get dressed up (outside and underneath), and give the New Year’s Eve night AND New Year’s day some hurray. I will most likely be dancing – either in my kitchen with the cat and my husband, or in someone else’s place surrounded by friends that night. And I’ll be setting intentions with my Wild Woman Circle on New Year’s Day. Hurray!
Set Intentions. Goals and resolutions can be great… and stifling. I like the idea of intentions. I also like the idea of setting my intentions based on how I want to feel. I have dabbled in The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte, and I love the way she frames it. It’s less about a set hard number or goal, and more about creating the life you want based on your truest, deepest desires. I also host monthly women’s circles on or around the new moon and we end each circle by setting intentions.
Share. One of my favorite parts of my monthly Women’s Circle with The WILD Woman Project is the sharing part. Being seen and heard is very valuable. And saying your truth out loud. And giving voice to the you that is within. When you make your list of accomplishments, reflections, lessons learned, and people loved – share it. You can share with your partner, with your friends or family, with a group, on social media, or even out loud in public! Do what works for you.
Personally, 2016 was a year of massive growth for me. It had a great deal of hardships and mourning, and an unbelievable amount of hurray. So much hurray that when I look back on it all, my heart swells with gratitude. I often found myself looking around and asking with utter disbelief and thankfulness: “what is this life?!” And I intend to carry that gratitude into the new year.
I’ll leave you with this final thought: If 2016 taught me anything, it’s that we are not promised tomorrow. After many celebrity deaths and personal friends and family passing away, I realize that this life is so precious. And when I choose to live it to its fullest, never taking a day, a moment, an opportunity for granted – it’s really freaking amazing. We are so blessed to be alive. It is an honor to live on this planet. Life is worth living. And living means feeling the full spectrum of good, bad, hurray, and what-the-hay. Each moment is yours for the making. And that makes me say: Hurray!
Your turn: What are your favorite ways to finalize the year, or start a new one? What kind of rituals or habits do you love, and which do you want to change? What intentions can you set to say hurray inside, outside, and underneath?
Style and Photo notes: The images in this blog post were taken by Becky Yee during the #HurrayVacay to Guatemala. Hair and makeup by yours truly. The stunning zip up slip I’m wearing is from UK lingerie brand, Gossard. I never edit or airbrush my body and face. It’s all about keeping it real – this year and every year.