Are you making the most of the end of the year? Are you properly taking advantage of the few days off you have this holiday season, if you’re lucky to have any at all?
Are you giving yourself the best chance to live the life you want to live? Or will you let the end of the year roll by without taking the opportunity to reflect on where you’ve been and where you want to go?
For too many of us, the end of the year is actually when our lives are the busiest and most hectic. Between organizing and attending events, wrapping up projects and wrapping gifts, the march to the New Year can feel like a sprint to the finish.
Unfortunately, this can be a very unconscious process. Though we may technically be alive, many of us are really one of the walking dead –going through the motions of life without actually living it.
While we are attending events, many of us can be absent from our own lives.
While wrapping up projects and gifts we can get so wrapped up in life that we spend little time appreciating it.
The sprint to the New Year then becomes a symptom of a life that eventually passes us by.
Some of us will then wake up one day asking “How did I get here?” or, “how did I get so old so fast?”
Or at the very least, we end up living a less than optimal life, not fully taking advantage of how much more invigorating and meaningful life can really be.
Instead, why not use the end of the year as a reminder to live life more consciously, and learn to revitalize yourself by bringing more awareness and appreciation for the year that has passed and the year (and years!) to come.
There are many ways to do this, but for simplicity sake, I’ll share six end-of-year keys to reinvigorating your life for the New Year. Depending on the type of person you are and the life you have been living, you may only need to bring your attention to a few of these, and maybe even only one.
Invigoration isn’t necessarily the result of dramatic effort. It’s the result of placing awareness on aspects of your life that needs renewal.
Your normal life is probably a mosaic of bustling motion: constant physical exertion and mental over-activity. As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, without proper rest, you deplete your ability to function optimally, if you’re able to function at all.
What you may need at the end of year, more than anything else is, is time away from your normal life.
Try visiting a new town, or one you haven’t been to in a while. If you are unable to do so, visit a new part of your own town, or a part that you spend little time in. If your environment is usually concrete in nature, spend some time in a more natural environment: a local preserve, a beach, a local park, or a lush garden. Try giving yourself a reprieve from technology. Turn off your cell phone for long periods of time, or give yourself the joy of spending a day not connected to the internet.
You may be surprised how refreshing it feels to be unplugged from all of your normal stimulation.
But more importantly, give yourself some time away from constant doing (whether it be a week, a day, or a few hours). Be okay with simply being.
Not only does a reprieve from activity replenish your energy reserves, but it is the only way to allow space in your awareness for insights, creative ideas, and new perspectives to arise.
If we continue living life like we always do, we can become desensitized to it. We not only start to take life for granted, but our experience of the world becomes dulled.
Life can then feel less than interesting, and possibly meaningless. To use a technical term, life can become blah.
However, you can make the conscious effort to see the world anew by finding new ways of perceiving it.
If you enjoy poetry, set aside some time to read more of it and experience reality through the poetic lens of metaphor. If you belong to a religion, spend time to delve into it more deeply. Find new ways of interpreting old beliefs or re-familiarize yourself with your faith’s rich perspectives on reality and what truly is important. Listen to a song that moves you, gives you a sense of wonder, or cradles you in melancholy. Watch a video or film that inspires you and reminds you that the world is full infinite possibilities.
Experience a day as if it were your first day on earth. Take some time to ask soak in the immensity, grandeur, and intricately balanced complexity of life. Or take some time to experience your life as if you were in its final moments. Look around you and ask yourself “what if this was my last day, or my last hour on earth?” How would your life feel different knowing your time is limited?
Then remember the truth: your time on this planet actually is limited. Make a vow not to waste your final hours, days and years to come.
We can get so caught up in life that we lose ourselves in it.
Give yourself the opportunity to remember your authentic self by participating in one or more of your passions. Take some time now to do something you love, rather than putting it off for a future that never comes.
Do you love making music, writing, painting, or dancing? Do you love playing a sport, playing a game, getting lost in a new place? Do you love spending time with friends and family, meeting new people, or volunteering for the benefit of others?
Pursue whatever passion brings a smile across your face or warms your heart by simply thinking about it. This is particularly important if the activity is something that you’ve let gone by the wayside.
Give yourself the opportunity to fan the flames of a spark that is authentically you. It is not a selfish endeavor to do so, since by rekindling your passions you bring more light into your life and enables you to be a light onto others.
We accomplish so much in our lives, but spend little time relishing those accomplishments. We work so hard, yet spend little time reflecting on the fruits of our labor. Too many people do not give themselves the chance to appreciate the life that they’ve lived, that they never get to appreciate it at all.
Use the end of the year as a call to review all the baby steps of progress and positive changes you’ve made in your life, regardless of how small. We often don’t notice how our choices really make a difference in our lives (and in the lives of others) because we neglect to pay attention to gradual improvements over time. So, relish not just your accomplishments, but your effort.
Spend some time reflecting on reasons to be appreciative of the life you currently have. What can you be grateful for? You can easily think of others around the world who would trade their lives for yours in a heartbeat. If they were suddenly placed in your shoes, how might they appreciate your life?
If you journal during the year, spend time to review it. Read your past thoughts, then laugh, cry, or just notice how you or your life may have changed since then (or how much you’ve stayed the same).
If you are the type of person who writes out goals for the year, review them. Reflect on what the past year has given you. Then notice what intentions you may have fallen short of this past year.
How will you know if you’re headed in the right direction if you don’t take time to evaluate the direction you’ve been going?
So what do you want out of life now? The answer may be different than it was last year. Make note if you have new intentions for your life.
If some of your intentions are the same, ask yourself what you’ve learned from this past year. Get a better sense for how you may want to change your approach or path to what it is you really want out of life. Let the end of the year be a time for you to reflect on lessons learned so that you can live more intelligently towards your goals in the new year or the years to come.
Keep in mind, however, that attainment of goals are not necessarily the source of your life’s enjoyment. Setting intentions and goals are simply a way to give yourself direction, to give your life focus so that you can experience a sense of purpose and an internal locus of control: a sense that your actions really do matter in your life.
They are sources of motivation and energy, acting like a magnet that galvanizes your attention so that you can better enjoy each present moment of the life you are living.
With this in mind, you may even decide that the best way to recalibrate your life is to simplify your life. What you may need is to reduce the expectations you have for yourself in the New Year. Give yourself more than a year for some intentions, or maybe realize that you don’t need to achieve so much in life to have a happy one.
Reducing the number of your goals may be the key to reaching the ones that you most truly care about.
Many people wonder why they haven’t gotten to where they want to be in life: the right job, the right relationship, the right state of being.
And when asked what steps they’ve taken to get there, they often give blank stares.
If you want to get from where we are to a place you have never been, it’s often wise to have a map and a sense of the path it will take for you to get there.
The same is sometimes true of the life you want to live.
So, use the end of the year to reorganize your life: to identify not just where you want to go, but what actions need to take place in order for that to happen.
The truth is the universe can get in the way of the best laid plans and it often materializes better paths than the ones you had planned to travel. But, without first setting your own plans on paper, many of us never get started on any paths at all.
So strategize. Create a plan for organizing your days and months to come that is based on your priorities. Schedule out milestones that lead you to where you want to go. Writing all of these in a journal (or any medium really) makes them tangible. It gives them life. Many thoughts and intentions enter our awareness that we later forget and leave behind. Use the end of the year to give life to the ones you really care about.
Almost more than anything, going through this process can help reinvigorate your outlook of the future, seeing what you have to look forward to.
And it’s this energy that could be the difference in realizing the birth of your new, reinvigorated life.
(Picture courtesy of Jenny Downing via Flicker)