A mindful reflection on 2015 and the year ahead – I walk you through how to set goals and mantras for the New Year. Happy New Year, friends!
I hope you had a wonderful time ringing in 2016 with friends and family and maybe a toast or two. Steve and I and one of my girlfriends took a midnight yoga class to ring in the new year. The teacher (who is my favorite yoga teacher in the area) brings such a lighthearted vibe to the practice and peppers his classes with humor, all the while keeping it 100% real. Plus, his 90’s rap and R&B playlist for NYE was on point. We ended the class with a candlelight meditation. We each had a tea light candle on our yoga block at the top of the mat and we started into the flame as the clock struck midnight. It was beautiful. It was our first year trying this instead of our usual hit up the bar or a friend’s party approach and we were pleasantly surprised how happy (and healthy!) we felt with our decision. We came home and made popcorn, toasted with a glass of prosecco, and exchanged our Christmas gifts (better late than never). And we woke up New Year’s Day feeling fan-frigging-tastic. No hangovers. No stomaches from overindulging. Just energy and enthusiasm for the year ahead. If you have a NYE yoga class at a yoga studio near you, I highly recommend the experience. Yes, your friends and family will give you weird looks at Christmas when you tell them that’s how you’re spending your NYE but it’s worth the odd glances 🙂
Another one of my NYE traditions is spending the day in meditation and reflection on the past year and setting goals and inspiration for the next year. I gave up on New Years resolutions a long time ago. Instead I try to set New Years themes (or mantras) for the year. But I do set some personal and professional goals too. Here’s what my process looked like for goal setting this year:
- Meditation: Meditated for about 15 minutes trying to clear my head and get grounded in the present.
- Nature walk: Being in nature is my happy place. So, I put on some uplifting music and took a nice long walk in the park that’s across the street from me. Looking around me at the trees, birds, and snow on the ground gets me out of my head and into my body, heart, and soul, which is so important for reflection and goal setting.
- Journaling: After my walk, I went to my favorite local coffee shop that does not have WIFI to journal. I practiced stream of consciousness journaling for at least 30 minutes. Stream of consciousness journaling means that you start writing and don’t stop. You don’t stop to edit, think, or ponder. You just write. Anything and everything that’s on your mind. I also like to think of it as a brain dump. You get anything that’s on your mind off your mind. So I did that to reflect on my thoughts on the past year, how I felt, and how I wanted to feel in the new year and what I’d want to do differently.
- Day Designer: From the great recommendation from my friend and fellow MasterMinder, Carlene of Healthfully Ever After, I purchased a Day Designer, “a strategic planner and daily agenda for living a well-designed life,” or what Steve would call the perfectionist planner for Type A perfectionists after taking a quick scan of its contents :). I mean it is pretty organized, which any good perfectionist would appreciate. The thing I love about this planner is the beginning contents – the pages that help you construct your goals for the year. You start by thinking what is your vision for the year – think business, self, others, attitudes, resources, finance, career, etc. And then you move onto brainstorming what will it take to make that vision come to life by writing out actions and to-dos. Then you take those actions and turn them into goals for 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months. And THENNNN (yes, this is a process) you turn those goals into manageable goals by drilling them down further – what’s your deadline, what resources will you need to make it happen, what obstacles might you face, how will you measure accomplishment, and what will your first steps be). It’s like of like taking that initial goal and turning it into a SMART goal (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound).
So what did I come up with?
If I had to sum up 2015 with one word it would be HUSTLE. It was the year of hustle. It was my first year being a new business owner and I ran full steam ahead trying to get ahead. Trying to prove to myself and others that I could do it. That I wouldn’t fail with this risky endeavor I chose. That I didn’t make the wrong decision. And as a result I worked, worked, worked, and worked some more. And it was a really AMAZING year for my business. I exceeded my expectations in so many ways. More projects, clients, blog traffic, press, and revenue than I could’ve imagined being in my first full year of business. And I rewarded myself for all my hard work and achievements with one of the reasons I went into business in the first place…Travel. I traveled to Ireland, Paris, and Barcelona, partly by myself and partly with friends. I also made it to Montreal this year – Steve and I took a trip for a couple nights right before we drove back to Buffalo for Christmas. And then there were trips to Florida, Nashville, Bar Harbor, Vermont, Richmond, Denver, Buffalo, and LA. Holy shit. I traveled a TON. And so the word hustle comes to mind once again. And then there was wedding planning and feeling like I had to find the PERFECT everything NOW. More hustle. Hustle is a great motivator until it’s not. With the hustle came sacrifices in my self-care and health, my relationships with family and Steve, joy, and enjoying the journey. And so 2015, I thank you for the experiences I wouldn’t trade for a thing, the successes, the highs and lows, and most of all the learnings that I can apply to 2016.
So what does 2016 have in store? Here are my themes or mantras for the year:
- Acceptance: I’ve grown accustomed to never being fully content with where I’m at. Always striving for more. More experiences, more adventures, more learnings, more business, etc. And it’s been a blessing and a curse. It motivates me to work hard and keep striving but it also keeps me from enjoying the moment. Enjoying where I’m at with my work. Enjoying where I’m at with my traveling experiences. Enjoying where I’m at in my relationships. While I refuse to ever “settle” in life, I view acceptance as something deeper. In the yoga sutras, it’s called ishvara pranidhana, or “self-surrender”. The idea that you can let go. Let go of self-limiting beliefs, let go of trying to control everything in your life, let go of always “doing”. And you ultimately surrender or let go to a higher power (and this will vary depending on your spiritual and religious beliefs). I struggled with my faith and beliefs in 2015 which probably also had an effect on my self-surrender and acceptance. Steve and I got a jumpstart on renewing our faith last month with going back to church every Sunday (something we used to look forward to every week as a time to reflect and be still).
- Thrive: This theme is two-fold for me. I want to thrive in my business and work but I also want to thrive in my own health, happiness and wellbeing. I’m seriously done putting work before my own health and happiness. I want to get back into a more regular yoga practice (at least 5x/week), waking up earlier to save some time for morning reading, and I want to invest in doing some holistic health exploration, i.e. food sensitivity testing and Ayurvedic consultation. My energy has been overall pretty low for a while now and I suffer from IBS among other things and as a RD I wholeheartedly believe that the food we eat impacts all of that. So it’s time I practice what I preach and do my own testing to see if by eliminating certain foods I can feel much better in my day-to-day. I also have been curious in the study of Ayurveda ever since my yoga teacher training and I’ve been wanting to have a consultation with an Ayurveda practitioner for a while now so this year is the year since THRIVING is one of my themes. And I want to thrive in my business. But not hustle. I want to enjoy the accomplishments and achievements and soak it all up instead of always being hungry for more.
- Love: 2016 is the year I get married (WHAAAA?!?!) I still can’t believe it. But because of this I really want love to be at the core of my relationships and interactions this year. I want to enjoy the rest of this journey and process leading up to the wedding. I want to cherish my family and friends who will share this special day with us. I want to cultivate love over fear. I want to base my decisions from a place of love. I want to make more time for my loved ones.
- Adventure: I want to live this year with a spirit of adventure. 2015 was very methodical. I work from home. I plan out meals for the week. I make dinner. I spend way too much time in my apartment. No more. I’m making a vow to work a couple days out of the week from a shared office space to connect with others and get the eff out of my home. I’m going to embrace random weeknight dates and plans even if it throws off my recipe testing/CSA schedule. I’m going to travel half way across the world back to South East Asia, a region I found to be so healing and transformational. I’m going to make a point to shake things up more.
- Give: There’s this Dave Matthews quote I love (yes, I used to be a big DMB fan) that goes, “If you give, you begin to live. You give, you get the world.” I volunteered last year with Cooking Matters Share Our Strength and taught the nutrition curriculum for cooking classes for low-income women and their children. It was such a gratifying experience and every time I left the class I felt alive. Just like DMB said I would! Haha but in all seriousness, I want to continue to give back this year. Because at my core I want to help people. That’s why I went into my profession in the first place.
Whew! That was a long post! I’m excited for the year ahead and the new experiences and adventures in store. And I’m so grateful for the opportunity to reflect each and every year and the beauty of promise the new year holds for new beginnings.
I hope you give yourself the space this year to reflect on the past year and set some mantras or goals for the new year.
And at my very core I hope that 2016 brings you so much joy and love. Cheers to a new year!