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Envisioning a happy new year! The best part starts now.

What do you do at the end of the year? Do you have any tried and true practices? Some years, I make a list of all the things I want to do the next year—things on my bucket list if you will. It’s a tradition started by my sisters and step-mom, which I love.

But what I do for sure is “take stock.” It’s like a combination of both looking back at the last year—really thinking through and reflecting on what that year was for me. For example, what kind of things I accomplished. Or how I felt. Or what things have changed for me throughout the last 12 months.

pic by Kate Ter Haar
pic by Kate Ter Haar

And then, and this is the best part, I think about what I want the next year to be. To me, especially with kids, this practice has become essential and sacred. It actually doesn’t involve the kids at all. But it involves special quality time with yours truly where I sit down alone and look at the types of experiences I want to have over the next 12 months to come. I ask myself what is important to me to experience this next year? I consolidate on paper tasks that I want to have accomplished by this time next year. Sometimes they are related to my business, “Get podcasts up and running.” Sometimes they are related to my personal life and include directions:

—“Pay solid attention to my herb garden. This means: plant cilantro and dill continuously so that we have it all summer. Plant several batches of parsley. Water! And figure out the best way to dry and store our garden spices.”

I ponder (figuratively) where I want to be sitting in 12 months time. What kinds of things I want to have done—both for fun and business. It involves looking at the bigger picture of my life—which is something that doesn’t often get a front burner on the stove (that’s where the kids come in). But in December, I give it that.

When my daughter was born I came up with what I called my Four Year Plan. Knowing that I was going to be home with my kids for a significant part of my days for the next roughly four years, I wanted to make sure that I was also, in whatever itty bitty increments I had, moving forward on a bigger picture of my life. So four years out—when the kids were more or less both going to be in school— I wasn’t sitting around building my business again from scratch. By that time, I intended, my work would have ramped up to support me in the way I want it to. And it would be a front burner activity already in place, especially while the kids are at school.

To me, it gave me the confidence also to know, that however much of my life was spent wiping bums and fixing snacks, during the in between of those moments I was veering in a direction that I intended. And that it was a direction I had chosen with forethought and excitement.Confetti by A Dose of Ship Boy

So this is the time of year I especially allow myself to take stock of that plan. Evaluate where I am in it—and see if there are tasks that I need to step up this year. Again, review what has been and set in place what will be. But more than that, I also take time to envision. I allow my mind free range to imagine the possibilities I want to create and to examine how they will look and feel. I start celebrating my accomplishments early—in my head—enjoying how I will feel when they finally come to pass. It’s a lovely experience all of it.

Really, it takes me all month—since I do in the spaces (bite sized or large) that I have in my life—but it feels so good! Especially when so much of my life is guided by others needs (namely the tiny beings in our household) it feels even that much more spectacular to take charge for a while—of my own thoughts and future—and to allow it to start shaping up in a conscious and happy-making way that suits me and my goals.

What practices do you have, or do you love for this time of year? Are there ways that you make the passing of one calendar year to the next special or meaningful to you? What things do you have on your agenda for next year?

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