How to Make the New Year Better than Before

5 ideas that have the power to change everything.

Posted Dec 30, 2019

"Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right" 
- Oprah Winfrey

Some trepidation, mixed with excitement, always accompanies my New Year’s plans. I love to celebrate, but even more so, I simply love to begin again. Whether I was raising a glass in celebration, watching the ball drop in New York City’s Times Square, or simply sitting on my yoga mat, the idea of beginning again with a fresh slate empowers me to make my new year even better than before. Here are five ideas that have helped me, and I hope encourage you on your way.

  1. Accept what works, change what doesn’t. It sounds simple, but as we know—it’s not always easy. And ultimately, I believe it’s like Maya Angelou suggests: if you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.  The hardest part for me when something needs to change is sometimes admitting to myself, but with self-awareness—everything is possible.
  2. Slow down. Since my specialty is child development, I adore children and find myself helping them slow down to get wherever they want to go faster. Mindlessness, carelessness and/or emotional reactivity are a formula for misery. The same is true for adults. It’s a lot harder to recover when a car hits a tree at 75 mph versus seven mph. So slow down, make careful choices, and see your life transform.
  3. Focus on otherness versus me-ness. Yes, we live in the selfie generation, but simply focusing on helping others and sharing your unique gifts with the world will help you become HAPPIER. Former President Obama cites a turning point for him in his life when he became “less focused on me, and [thought] how can I be useful?”
  4. Chop wood and carry water. You may have heard of this Zen quote, but it conventionally means to continue doing the work life requires of you. So many people seek a “quick fix” and want to take shortcuts, whether it’s to the corner office or getting their children into college, but “the work” of life is to pay attention and carefully do whatever is in front of you. This may be shoveling the driveway, working night shifts, or cooking dinner while you continue on your way. Every step has the potency to be a step forward.
  5. Remember, you can always begin again. I remember hearing someone say, “Sometimes we make the right choice, and sometimes we have to make the choice right” and well, isn’t that the truth. It’s the quality of our choices that determine our life and trajectory. This isn’t about money, fame or external power—it’s about recognizing what’s important to you and making a choice to move in that direction. Step by step. I changed careers at age 29 and moved cross country at 40—and suspect I’m just beginning. Wherever you are, personally or professionally, you can always begin again.