As December comes to a close, we are finally arriving at that moment of welcoming in the New Year. If you’re like me, you may be thinking backward, not forward, to the chaos, challenges, and gifts you experienced over the past 365 days. To make the most of a brand-new year, we need to make the most of this transition from past to future.
Yet, I find it’s an odd transition because there’s no hard line we get to step over. There’s no tangible difference between the end of December and the beginning of January. The same sun rises, and the same moon sets. Our circumstances continue.
But this period does offer a perfect opportunity for reflection and intention. The changing of the calendar creates a worldwide moment of pause when we can look back on who we were and imagine who we’ll become. As 2023 comes to a close, I want to encourage you to look inward. I want you to mark this transition for yourself by pausing to consider your approach—your mindset—to making the most of the coming year.
Mindset 1: Be Kind to Yourself
A promising future begins with acknowledging where you are right now. It’s only with acceptance of the present that you can find your bearings and move forward with realism and optimism.
Show yourself grace for the moment you’re in. Accept all that you are and have been. Show yourself forgiveness for your mistakes, knowing they are part of your history. Feel the grief and joy that come along with a life fully lived.
You’re a human being who, like all human beings, deserves love and acceptance. Give yourself that kindness and carry it with you into the new year.
Mindset 2: Be Intentional About Pausing and Releasing
Beyond kindness toward yourself, be intentional about all the ways you can maintain a healthy mindset throughout the coming year.
For example, take a conscious, intentional breather from seeking self-improvement and allow for self-grounding. Imagine listening to music rather than streaming yet another educational podcast or TED Talk. Making space in your day for simply existing is actually a strategic move! It relaxes and opens your mind for an even better tomorrow.
In the same way, be intentional about taking time to release what’s hard and actively support others who are facing hard things. There’s an ancient practice that combines the taking in and sending out of good and bad vibes.
The practice is called Tonglen, which I’ve practiced on and off for 30 years and first learned about in Pema Chodron’s classic book When Things Fall Apart. Rather than inhaling the good and exhaling the bad, Tonglen is about breathing in the hard, the unwanted, and the difficult.
You imagine drawing those feelings into yourself and accepting them so deeply that you begin to embrace them. Then you breathe out goodness and light and optimism, imagining that you’re sharing those good vibes and relief with a person who is in pain or a similar situation.
It’s an act of compassion that takes the difficult circumstances of life and, through the power of your intention, creates a sanctuary of warmth and understanding. If that’s not a mindset superpower, then I don’t know what is.
Discover: Mindfulness Exercises to Boost Your Mind's Performance
Mindset 3: Be Thankful
As we grapple with how the real-world challenges of our times and our own day-to-day struggles will continue into 2024, we can take time to remind ourselves that gratitude is often our greatest weapon in the face of adversity.
We’re not talking about world-shattering gratitude here. The key is to focus on the little things so you are filled with gratefulness. Maybe you’re thankful for the warmth of an afternoon mug of tea, the hand squeeze of a loved one, or the flock of birds that flies past you on a walk.
Then, when that cup of gratitude starts to overflow, why not share the wealth? Maybe this year, you volunteer at your local food bank or reach out to a neighbor who could use a visit. Or you might finally hit Donate Now to that organization that means so much to you.
Service opportunities are a guaranteed way to fill your year with positive experiences. Think of it as actionable goodwill, resulting in pride, connection, and a full heart.
Read: Increase Your Happiness by Being Grateful
Welcoming the New Year takes more than “holiday spirit” and end-of-year festivities. The celebrations and gatherings themselves will not set your year up for joy and growth. Real change and real happiness come from within. It’s a mindset switch. But with these three approaches at your disposal anytime and anywhere, and with a little bit of goodwill, you’re going to be just fine.
What mindset shift is at the top of your list for 2024?
Hugs to all!
This article was also published on Juliet Funt's LinkedIn