You can walk away from the wreck of the last year, but you can't really leave it behind. You wear your past like clothes: your pockets are full of memories, your shirt smells like the sea of your experiences, life lessons are left in the seams.
It's lovely and hopeful to look forward to a new and improved year. But it's far stronger to begin the year with what you learned from your struggles, the strength you've earned from slogging through what didn't go right, the wisdom gleaned from being wrong and doing things the hard way, over and over again.
Here's how I want you to ring in the New Year: Celebrate what didn't go right in the past one. Make a toast to the arguments, the bad decisions, and the failures. Make a list of your struggles, disappointments, wrong turns, and dead ends. And then next to each unfortunate incident, uncomfortable memory, or broken promise, write down how it's a gift to you and your year to come.
Here are a few things from my list ...
A struggle: I've been dealing with insomnia for almost a year now.
The gift: On my search for sleep, I tried everything except for prescription drugs: supplements, herbs, homeopathic remedies, breathing techniques, acupuncture... And then, I surrendered. I'm finding my way toward a fragile acceptance of my insomnia - and a hard-won recognition that I can do difficult things with little sleep (like write a book).
Bad decisions: I've worked way too much this past year because I couldn't figure out how to feel done for the day, which has affected all of my relationships - and not in a good way.
The gift: I'm being more realistic about my schedule for this coming year, building in time for friends and family, making room for creativity and quiet, and honoring Sundays as a day off with my family.
A big problem: I've neglected my marriage.
The gift: I've missed him, missed us, and I'm so clear on what I need to do to be more connected.
It's tempting to abandon your past, just walk away from the disappointments like you don't need anything from the damaged year. But when you do, you lose all the treasures you've collected along the way. Because your rewards are often so heavy, it's easy to mistake them for only rocks in your pockets, weighing you down.
But when you truly look at the last year, the wreckage becomes riches: the heavy memories shine and the little mistakes glitter in the sunlight, each and every one a pearl of wisdom to carry forward into the New Year.
(This post was originally published a few years back but the lessons continue to be meaningful: stay in the present moment, be kind to myself and others, focus on what matters most.)
Would you like a little help figuring out how to turn the wreckage into riches? Set up a time for a free call with me. We'll find your treasures and ways for you to use those well-earned rewards in 2018. Click here to schedule your session with me. Use coupon code NEW50 for 50 percent off your first session. Hugs, Kathleen