Saying Goodbye to 2021 and Welcoming the New Year
Finding closure and setting intentions
Written by Margaret Reeb
Take a deep breath… now exhale.
Whew, 2021 was a ride! The pandemic persisted, a new U.S. president was sworn in, and natural disasters ravaged parts of the world. As we approach the New Year, it’s natural to reflect on the past twelve months and set goals for a better you. In this blog, we’ll lead you through the exercise of saying goodbye to 2021 and welcoming 2022.
But first, let’s set some ground rules. Keep three things in mind as you read this post and work through the exercises: patience, compassion, and joy.
Patience: Life is hard in general, and the events of the last few years have not been easy on our collective mental and physical health. It’s always important to have patience with yourself and it’s especially important now. Maybe you didn’t hit a goal in 2021, but that’s okay. Maybe you didn’t take care of your health or you lost touch with a friend. It’s okay. Be patient with yourself.
Compassion: Similar to having patience with yourself, remember to also have compassion. Consider self-care when you’re making your goals and really consider whether your intentions for the new year reflect tenderness and understanding for yourself and others. Reflecting on the past year and setting goals for the new one doesn’t mean you should beat up on yourself.
Joy: We may not be able to chase joy in our life all the time. (For instance, I’m sure no one loves their job every moment of the day.) But finding joy should be a top priority. You might be tempted to make all your intentions centered around productivity and tasks, but remember to keep personal joy at the top of your list.
Now with that out of the way, let’s talk about sending off 2021 and welcoming 2022.
Saying goodbye to 2021
The first step to saying goodbye is reflection. Get a notebook, find a quiet space, and consider the last year of your life. You may need to check your emails or photos to remember what happened in January, so please, do so! Write down your top three highs and lows for the year as well as any memories that make you smile.
If you set goals for 2021, review them, remembering patience, compassion, and joy. Take pride in the things you accomplished, even if you didn’t write them down, and consider if any of your outstanding goals are worth pursuing in the new year.
Now that you have your highs and lows. Think about any blocks you have that kept you from finding more highs and perhaps even led you into the lows. For example, one of your lows could be a fight with your partner and a block associated with that conflict is your worry about abandonment. Or maybe you set a goal to do yoga every Saturday but you prioritized others needs and missed out. Your block here would be serving others before yourself.
After some reflection, cut a scrap of paper for each block you’ve identified. Once you’re done, it’s time to rip it up! Take each paper, read each block you wrote down, then rip it to pieces, saying, “I’m freeing myself from this block. It’s no longer going to hold me back.”
As you rip the paper, and the block written on it, take several deep breaths and concentrate on the tearing motion. It’s even better if you can imagine the block floating away like a cloud, leaving you lighter and more at peace.
Setting intentions for the New Year
Now that you’ve taken stock of 2021 and let go of what’s holding you back, it’s time to think about 2022. It may seem minor but we’re talking about intentions not goals. The former is more about a way to be, and the latter focuses more on accomplishments. We prioritize intentions because they positively impact how your live your day-to-day life.
Brainstorm intentions first and whittle them down later. If you need inspiration, review your goals for the previous year and consider whether any of them can be converted into intentions. For example, maybe your goal for 2021 was to write a book. If that’s still something you want to do, you can make an intention to find time every week to write or to chase the joy of writing whenever you can.
Another good approach is to think about your highs from 2021. Is there anything you want to repeat that will bring you back to one of those highs? Maybe you followed your gut and booked a last-minute trip that changed your life, or perhaps you took a risk, went to an event alone, and made a new friend.
Now, think about your mental health and joy. What are things that will improve your outlook on life or make you happier? Make sure at least one of your intentions for the New Year takes this into account.
Here are some example intentions for inspiration:
- I will trust my instincts when it comes to love and prioritize trust in my relationships.
- I intend to take an hour Sunday for meditation.
- I will chase joy through artistic pursuits, like trying a new painting class.
- I will practice compassion with my mom while maintaining my personal boundaries.
Remember, the intention should be positive. Try to avoid words like can’t or won’t.
Once you have a list, pick the top 3-5. This is a manageable amount and will keep you from feeling overwhelmed. Write them in your journal or on a piece of paper you can tape on your bathroom mirror as a reminder.
Letting go of what’s no longer serving you and setting strong intentions for the New Year is a great exercise for the final days of December. It will provide a map for navigating the challenges to come and finding more joy in your life.