What traditions do you have for transitioning into a new year? I remember when I was much younger, New Years was just a reason to go out, stay up late, and party. Weirdly, I never used to slow down and think about what I was celebrating. Did you?
When I arrived at my can’t stay awake until midnight stage of life, I started writing out goals on New Years Day. Problem is, I never looked at them again until the next year. And then I tried picking a word or theme for the year. Each of those practices left me feeling empty and not really taking stock of the year I lived through or the year I want to co-create next.
Why do we resist slowing down and tuning in? It can be hard to look inward for many people. Often we are afraid of what we’ll find. So instead we push ourselves to stay busy, checking off our to-do list until we check out into social media or Netflix. When you already feel like you aren’t doing enough, you will just keep pushing and pushing yourself until you crash and burnout.
What if you started the new year differently? What if you made a commitment to yourself to stop using criticism to motivate yourself? Instead, you begin the new year with a promise to yourself to motivate with self-compassion. That is, to begin a practice that focuses on being gentle and understanding with yourself. Don’t worry, you can still focus and get stuff done, but you will enjoy yourself and the journey much more if you aren’t berating yourself for not being and doing enough.
With this in mind, I have a newer tradition that I’ve been using for New Year’s Eve to share with you. It involves using journaling prompts to reflect on the year you have completed and the year you want to co-create next. If you’ve never journaled, I will walk you through some benefits and tips on how to start journaling.
Benefits of Journaling
While there are many ways to practice mindfulness and self-compassion, I’m going to focus on journaling as a practice you can start using today to be more compassionate and focused as you transition into the new year. Some of the benefits of journaling are:
- Increasing self-awareness and understanding
- Processing, containing, and managing emotions
- Improving creativity and problem solving
- Allowing greater comprehension of new ideas
- Empowering yourself to reach goals and start pursuing dreams
- Increasing tolerance in discomfort and uncertainty
Journaling isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth giving a try to see what you think about the practice.
Tips on How to Start Journaling
Next, let’s explore how to start journaling for those of you who have never tried it. Here are a few ideas to get you started, but there’s no right or wrong way, just the way that works for you.
- Have a pen and/or colored markers/pencils that you enjoy writing with and a journal.
- Don’t judge what you write, just keep writing.
- If words don’t come, you can also draw or doodle in response to your writing prompts.
- Set aside a time each day to write so it becomes apart of your routine (ex: before you get in the shower or before bed).
- Create a space that you like to write that is private and free from distractions like cell phones.
- Set the mood for self-reflection and self-care by lighting a candle, snuggling with a warm blanket, or sipping your favorite drink.
- Try using writing prompts or inquiries that you ask yourself to bring out your inner knowing and compassionate self.
5 Writing Prompts for New Year Reflection
Without further ado, here are some of the writing prompts I use to reflect on the end of the year and the new year to come.
- What are you most proud of in 2018 (current year)?
- What do you want to leave in 2018 (current year)?
- What growth or change do you want to take with you into 2019 (new year)?
- What do you really, really want or desire in 2019 (new year)?
- What support do you need to keep moving forward toward what you desire most in 2019 (new year)?
You may be excited about what is to come or it may bring up anxiety and fear. Instead of trying to ignore what you feel, take time to slow down, give voice to these fears, and then respond with self-compassion. And to keep moving toward what you desire and dream, keep journaling throughout the year.
What did you learn about yourself through journaling?
Marci Payne, MA, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Missouri with an office in the Greater Kansas City area of Indpendence. She specializes in counseling for anxious and stressed men, women, and teens who want to enjoy their lives and relationships again. If anxiety & stress are getting in the way of you connecting with others or focusing on what is important to you, schedule a free 15-minute phone consult with Marci. Decide if counseling is one of the supportive relationships that you need this year to help you focus on what’s most important to you.