Start Your New Year Well By Susan Leigh

There’s are certain times in life when it’s good to pause and assess what we’ve achieved so far, how that measures up to our original goals and where we would like our next steps to take us. Birthdays, especially decade birthdays, can be a useful evaluation point, but new year can also be a valuable time to check in and take stock of our aims, successes and the things that didn’t work out as planned.A period of reflection can inspire us to start our new year well.

– Ask what happened to your previous year’s intentions and resolutions. If we were half-hearted or unrealistic in our goal-setting they can quickly fall by the wayside. Similarly, relying on someone else to inspire us to lose weight, stop smoking or exercise can be good when everyone’s feeling upbeat and motivated, but is much harder to sustain when the weather’s cold or one person is starting to waver or lose interest.

– Relationships can struggle in the new year, with January being the busiest month for divorce lawyers. It’s important to start your new year well by committing to improve your relationship with your other half. Schedule regular ‘us time’, even if you’re unable to go out properly on a ‘date’. Meeting regularly for coffee or a walk could provide a welcome interlude for catching up.

Identify the areas you feel have become a little stale or neglected and start to invest in them. Consider how you communicate and focus on listening to each other. Freshen things up by demonstrating a real interest in each others’ lives.

– It’s good to have things to look forward to, especially over the winter months. A meal with friends, where everyone contributes a dish and makes the effort to dress up can be an inexpensive way to socialise with friends and start your new year well. Book clubs and games nights can come into their own and provide a welcome evenings’ entertainment. Maybe mark your calendar with trips, courses and social events that are of interest. It keeps you fresh and alert to what’s happening in your neighbourhood.

– Invest in yourself too. Time passes all too quickly and before long we’re looking at yet another new year. Take some serious time to clarify how you feel about your life. Which things are non-negotiable at the moment, which things could you manage better and then make space for some me time, with a little money and energy left for yourself.

– Set goals that mean something to you, that spark your passion. Simply thinking ‘I must/ I ought/ I should is rarely enough to sustain us on dark winter nights or when there’s a more demanding option. Even if it’s registering for an online course, reading regularly, following a fitness programme or committing to working on a hobby or small business from home, be serious about how much it means to you and firm about diarying that daily/weekly/monthly hour or two.

– Identify stepping-stones towards your goal, rather than it being your sole aim. Then you can celebrate each stage and give yourself credit for the various mini-targets achieved. Each completed task, form filled out, intention noted, person you’ve told are all be markers of your commitment along the way.

– Enjoy the detours, rather than fixating on the ultimate result. If you’re setting up a small business and, for example, get invited to attend a training course or deliver a talk about your experiences why not jump at the chance to extend yourself, spread your message and move out of your comfort zone. Be receptive to valuable experiences.

Life is often about the journey rather than the ultimate goal and the process of getting from A to B is frequently the most scenic, memorable part of the trip. So take as long as it takes and enjoy the ride.

– Value the failures. If you slip up, face rejection or feel somewhat out of your depth, rather than giving up you could instead use it as an opportunity to learn a new skill, try a different approach or maybe even change direction a little. New ideas and great, unexpected successes can come from being receptive to openings that present themselves along the way. Different ways of thinking can introduce you to interesting relationships that offer exciting ways to start your new year well.

– Be accountable, whether it be to a business coach, tutor or even another colleague. Having someone to check in with can ensure than you commit to your interim goals, knowing that you’ll have to explain your progress or lack thereof. As a bonus, you may receive useful guidance, a well-timed nudge that gets you back on track or simple encouragement and belief in your abilities at a time when you’re plagued with self-doubt. Don’t underestimate the importance of a person to whom you’re accountable.

Starting the new year well can mean branching out into different areas. Personal development may mean you invest in a new look or approach to life. Professionally you could bring new skills or alliances into the picture. Relationship wise, why not commit to listening well and refreshing your social life by introducing new friends and interests. Enjoy a great start to your new year, one that suits you well and then you’ll feel positive about committing to it.

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