Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Years Evolution

For the past five years, I've started writing out recaps for the previous year on January 1st. I find it a great way to review my life, see how I've grown, and to help me loosely map out my upcoming goals. (I seem to have "take Pilates" as a goal every year, but I somehow keep managing to fail at that one. Urgh. Maybe 2008 will be my year.)

Sometimes I'll even create a tag line that thematically describes the events. For example, my recap for 2002 was best summed up as, "Revisit the past/Envision the future" because it was largely about self-acceptance, reaching out to those I'd lost touch with, focusing on inner-peace, and then spiraling into the unknown with job loss and a very tumultuous romantic relationship. Thematizing one's life doesn't always work, but it's kind of a fun way to think about a year holistically.

I begin by chronologically writing out all of the major events/feelings/happenings that I can think of in bullet-point form. I don't spend an insane amount of time trying to come up with every little thing. Simply brainstorming the most immediate things that come to mind and then placing them in chronological order seems to give a clear picture of the most impactful moments of the year.

I then write out two lists--one for the people who have been of primary importance in my life this year, and a list of the more peripheral yet still important people in my life during this time. It may seem strange to attempt to categorize friendships, but this allows me to see how people move in and out of my life, and who remains most constant.

I also make a list of the trips I've taken, and the dates (at least the months in which they took place).

Future goals for the new year follow. I don't make this list overly-rigorous as I don't believe in New Year's resolutions, or that you have to follow through with everything (see Pilates). It's more about things I want to keep on my radar so I can glance back at the list throughout the upcoming months and remind myself of things I'd like to accomplish, aspire to or think about. These might be financial goals, things to do with improving my health and well-being, education, politics, trips to take or things to do for fun.

Recently, I've taken to adding a short list of things I'm most grateful for, and occasionally, I include a snippet or two of things I've learned. For example, in 2006, I came to the realization that it's rather fruitless to try to guess other people's motivations. Reasons are irrelevant, and trying to ascertain reasons for others' behavior is unprovable and somewhat hubristic. It's better to simply deal with the facts of a situation and make decisions based on what appears in front of you, and not worry so much about what other people are thinking or why they do what they do.

I won't be posting my list of 2007 life events. That's one for my journal and not for online. But, I highly encourage everyone to do this exercise to see what you come up with. Starting a new year by bringing greater consciousness to one's life is comforting and sets the stage for greater awareness and an openness for new things to come.

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