The beginning of each new year is a natural time to set goals for the year ahead and assess your progress over the last year. Do you remember what resolutions you set for yourself 12 months ago? Did you succeed in keeping them? Hopefully, you wrote them down or remember them clearly enough.
Maybe you were committed to them and accomplished them all, or maybe they were just momentary wishes that you weren’t ready to work toward. Or, maybe you did well on some and not so well on others. Either way, they all represent something about the person you want to become.
And now, 12 months later, it is time to reassess those goals and to either recommit or revise your vision for yourself. It is time to look back and ask, “Who do I want to become? How can I move toward my highest self?”
Past Year Vision Exercise
To take stock of the past year, and to help you plan better for the coming year, it is helpful to take a trip back through time. The purpose of this exercise is to see yourself objectively, without judgment, so that you can grow even more in the coming year. Here are some steps you can follow:
- Relaxing: Relax deeply and clear your mind before you begin your trip through time. If you follow a meditation practice, meditate for at least five minutes. If you do not have an established practice, I recommend chest breathing instead. Simply lie down on a comfortable, flat surface with your legs spread slightly and your arms angled out slightly from your sides, palms facing upward. Breathe naturally, but focus on the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Allow your body to relax more and more deeply with each breath, letting go of tension with every exhalation.
- Recalling: When fully relaxed, create a mental image of your life over the last year, as though you are watching it on a movie screen. Start with your celebrations of the new year. Who were you? What were you hoping for? What resolutions did you set, if any? How committed to them were you? Now, see yourself as you settle back into your routine after the holidays. Continue to move forward through time, week by week and month by month, trying to recall the most memorable events of your year. How did you spend your time? What emotions, both positive and negative, did you feel? Remember to make no judgments; just watch yourself as you go through the scenes of your life.
- Reflecting: After you have completed your visualization, it is time to think about what you want for the next year. Do you want to keep working toward the same goals or do you have new ones in mind? Use what you saw in your year-review visualization to help you determine what is best for you. Did you take on too many goals, leaving you with too little time to complete them? Did you notice that habits or emotions got in the way? Were you truly committed enough to the resolutions you set? Use these observations not to condemn yourself but rather to help guide your plans for the coming year.
Upcoming Year Vision Exercise
Whether or not you lived up to your plans, celebrate the fact that you are a person who wants to grow and continually improve. When Thomas Edison had failed to make a workable light bulb 2,000 times, a reporter asked, “How does it feel to have failed so many times?” He replied, “Failed? I have not failed. I now know 2,000 ways not to make a light bulb.” By looking back and carefully watching your previous year, you can learn how to move forward, even if it seems like you have made no progress or even regressed. This exercise is like alchemy that might turn last year’s “failures” into next year’s success:
- Looking into Your Intentions: First, make careful decisions about your intentions for the next year. Do you want to keep those old goals or create new ones? Also, look closely at what created obstacles. If you took on too much last year, scale down this year’s goals to be more realistic. Did negative emotions spoil your motivation? Did you need to make a more detailed plan before you began? Did you need help from someone or something else? Learn from your past year to help you make good decisions about your future.
- Checking the Spiritual Side: Look carefully and honestly at the spiritual growth needed to succeed on the physical plane. If you have continuously failed to achieve something you desire on the physical plane, there is probably some adjustment that needs to be made on the spiritual plane. If you can’t seem to lose weight, for example, look carefully below the surface for deeper need for healing. Or, if you want better or more fulfilling relationships, be honest with yourself about the emotional and mental habits that need to change. Include the needed spiritual growth as part of your overall plan for your year.
- Writing Your Promise: Now, draft a very specific, step-by-step vision for your next year. What daily habits will best expedite your plan? Write this out as a promise to yourself that you will look at regularly.
- Visualizing Success: Finally, visualize yourself succeeding at your plan. As you did above, relax your body and mind through meditation or breathing exercises. Then, visualize your success as you go through your next year. Travel through the year, day by day, month by month, watching yourself as you go through your daily life. Watch yourself accomplishing great things and behaving according to your highest self.
Accept the Gift of the New Year
Sometimes, I hear people bemoaning the fact that time is passing and that they are getting older. But, the passing of time is actually a great gift because it is yet another tool that has been placed here for the sake of your soul’s growth. Without it, the world and our lives would be stagnant, incapable of movement or growth. So be sure to celebrate well during this New Year’s season—celebrate who you have been, who you are now, and who you will become.