Here we are, at the end of the year. With the new year less than 100 hours away (as of this writing, at least), I know I have a lot of conflicting feelings. The lingering anxiety and fear from 2020 won’t fade anytime soon, I know, and it’s mixed with the natural excitement that this time of year epitomizes.
In short, it’s overwhelming to be at the end of a year that feels like so much but nothing happened. We sat at home. Ate takeout. Avoided other people. Shopped online. Bought masks in different patterns and fought for Clorox wipes at Costco. Didn’t hug friends. Watched a rising death toll while the government and leadership fought about unrelated things. George Floyd, Breonna Tayler, Ahmed Arbery, and so many more. Disgusting white nationalist groups referenced by the president. A female biracial veep. Basically, a new verse of “We Didn’t Light the Fire” happened in 2020 alone.
2020 vs the New Year
The practice of setting a new year’s resolution is to honor the closing of the current year and starting off the new year on the right foot. From a high level, it feels arbitrary. It’s just another cold winter night. But there’s a feeling of magic in the turning of the clock to midnight. And it’s that magic that I think we’re trying to encapsulate in our resolutions, in pushing forward our ideal self. But the missing piece is resolve. Which is why I prefer different approaches for a the new year.
A sankalpa honors the deeper meaning in our lives. It starts from the premise that you are who you are meant to be. So there’s no ego-driven ideas within it, no “I will lose 10 pounds this year” or “I will double my income this year” or something like that. Your sankalpa takes the form of “I am… [whatever you want to pull from inside.” I am peace. I am calm. I am enough. I am healed. What are you?
In its most classic form, the mantra is spiritual energy, condensed into a word or phrase. Finding and designing your mantra for 2021 gives you something you can hold onto, and keep in the forefront of your thoughts throughout the year. Your mantra can be single word that holds meaning for you. Community. Peace. Maybe it’s a phrase or a prayer.
A 365 project is something you decide to do everyday. Some people want to write something everyday – 300 words, a poem, etc. A common project is to take a picture everyday and post on Instagram or some other platform.
A life audit takes a look at a specific area of your life, or a broader perspective. A crass way to put it is to assess your net worth… But going beyond just your assets and liabilities. One way that I like to look at my life in an audit sense is to create a matrix. Draw a box divided into 4 quadrants. Label the two rows and two columns:
Things I want Things I don’t want
Things I have
Things I don’t have
Complete the quadrants based the labels, so in each box you’re making 4 lists: things you want that you have, things you want that you don’t have; things you don’t want that you have; and finally, things that you don’t want that you don’t have. It’s a quick type of gratitude journaling, and can also set the stage for determining what your goals might be.
Honor Yourself Before Anything
So how will you choose to start the new year? To be honest, I’m not feeling drawn toward any of these options in this moment. Like I said before, January 1 is a fairly arbitrary date to *start the year.* It’s enough to take stock of what’s around at the present and enjoy it for what it is without judgement.
How will you mark the passing year?