For the last ten years, I've been partaking in a special New Year's tradition. The tradition doesn't involve fireworks, staying up past midnight, or half-hearted resolutions. Instead, my tradition involves retrospection, letting go of the past, and setting intentions for the future.
While I'm generally not one who celebrates holidays, I appreciate the changing of the year as an arbitrary time to examine my life. Near the end of every year and before the beginning of the next, I set aside uninterrupted time, pour myself a warm cup of tea, and settle into a comfy chair under a cozy blanket. I have with me a writing utensil and two sheets of paper -- one is labeled with the current year and the other with the upcoming year.
THE CURRENT YEAR
I begin my tradition by reminiscing about the year that is coming to a close. On the first sheet of paper, I jot down the significant events of the year. All memories are fair game -- both those that were positive as well as those that weren't so positive.
I reflect on each of the events and what they have meant to my life. I spend extra time reflecting on the negative events, as I realize that it is often these events that are the most responsible for shaping my life. Trying times offer, after all, the greatest opportunities for learning.
When I feel as though I have adequately retrospected on the last year, I set aside my reflections on the current year and focus on the upcoming year.
THE UPCOMING YEAR
On the other piece of paper, I jot down the things I want to focus on in the upcoming year. All intentions are fair game -- both those big and small.
It's important to note that there is a difference between resolutions and intentions. Resolutions are goals that require pure will-power and reflect those things that we should do. On the other hand, intentions are goals that are internally motivated and reflect those things that affect the true essence of who we are.
LETTING GO AND MOVING FORWARD
After I have retrospected on the past and set intentions for the future, I then bring a flame to the paper summarizing the events of the current year. As the flame spreads across the words on the paper, I let go of the events of my past. My memories dissolve into smoke and ash. Letting go of my past memories makes room for the formation of new ones.
Having formally honored and set aside my past, I can now focus on my intentions for the coming year. I can stop being who I was and better focus on being who I want to be.
Happy New Year, friends! May this be the year that you better focus on who you want to be!