I’m not a New Year’s Resolution person. I have never been able to keep any resolutions past February, and when I drop them I just feel bad about myself. I also feel like the resolutions I make are often pulled out of the air based on what I feel like I “should” want, but not what really matters to me.
When I’ve made resolutions, I’ve chosen the same generic stuff as everyone else. “I want to unplug more,” “I want to lose some weight,” “I want to read more books.” There’s nothing wrong with any of these resolutions. They just feel like they’ve been plucked off a list of resolutions everyone makes (and breaks). They aren’t personal or particularly motivating, so they go nowhere.
Anyway, if resolutions are your jam, I’m not trying to talk you out of them. Please ignore my opinion and continue to ratchet up your personal performance every January. If, however, you’re kind of done with resolutions and want something else to mark the end of the calendar year, might I recommend a nice reflection on what has already happened? How about a fun exercise of trying to predict the future?
I’ve been doing these two exercises for the last three years and really love them. The first is a reflection exercise. I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment and clarity from thinking deeply about what has happened in the last 12 months and deciding what I want to hold on to.
Some of the questions I ask myself to reflect back are:
- What do I want to remember forever about 2023? What were the achievements, surprises, and really great moments?
- What relationships got stronger this year? Who am I most grateful for?
- What relationships got weaker? Do I want to do anything about that?
- What life lessons did I learn?
- Where/when did I have my best experiences in 2023?
- Who was there? What can I do to increase the likelihood that I’ll have more experiences like these?
I’ve found that the insight I get from thinking back on what has really helped and mattered to me is deeply motivating when I look ahead into the coming year. The things that made last year great will probably be things I want to focus on going forward. The hard lessons I learned are usually things I want to remember to avoid pain and frustration in the future. The exercise, overall, is worth the time.
The second exercise is about predicting the future. At the end of each year, I create a document and make guesses about what will be true at the end of the coming year. I try to make my predictions short and clear so it will be obvious if they are correct or not. In some cases, I even jot down the percent certainty I have about a prediction (e.g. I will get back into watching TV and will be actively watching at least 2 shows at the end of 2024 – 66% certainty).
It helps me to break my life into parts and then make predictions in each area. I like to make predictions about: Family, Hobbies, Fitness, Job, Personal Life/Goals.
If you want to try this, just make sections that make sense for you and start writing down what you suspect will be different one year from now. Ask yourself things like:
- Will you be healthy? How about your parents?
- Will you have a new best friend?
- Will you be at a new job? Will you get that promotion?
- Will you have a new hobby? Will you have stopped doing one of your current hobbies?
- Will your spouse still be doing yoga daily?
- Will you still be stopping at Starbucks 5 days a week?
- Who will win the 2024 election? How will you feel about it?
- Where will you go on vacation?
At the end of each year, I get to look back and see where I thought my life would be at this moment. It’s always fascinating to see how much has changed and how much or little we actually knew about the future.
If you’ve never done these exercises before, maybe give them a try. If you’re worried about forgetting what you predicted or set out to do, I like to attach what I wrote to a calendar event I schedule for the end of the year so I’ll be sure to see it when the time comes.
I hope these little rituals might help and that you might enjoy them as much as I do. Please take care of yourself as we head to the new year, and have a fantastic 2024!