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Closing the Year and Preparing for the New One

A Personal Perspective: 14 questions to help you get clear on where you want to go next.

Key points

  • The new year is a great time to reflect on where you are, where you’ve been, and where you’d like to get next.
  • Reflecting on the past year can help you get clear about what you want in your new year.
  • Set goals or intentions that work best for you.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Source: Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I love the sense of beginning a new calendar year gives. Even though it is simply one night turning the calendar from one year to the other, it is an opportunity to make positive changes. It’s a great time to reflect on where you are, where you’ve been, and where you’d like to get next. Reflection is the perfect way to close the old year and open the door to the new one.

Some like to accompany this period of reflection by deep cleaning the house, decluttering the shelves, and purging the wardrobe. It’s a metaphorical way of getting the unwanted old out and making space for your new desires.

But before you rush into thinking about the new year, start by reflecting on the one that is about to close. Why? Because that’s going to help you get clear on what you want in your new year.

Closing the Old Year

Finish these sentences to start reflecting on the year that has just passed.

  1. This was a year of…
    If you were to summarise your year in a sentence or two, what would you say? This can give you a overarching theme for the year which makes it easier for you to digest it. If you want to go deeper, you can list some of your most memorable moments from each month. This will remind you of everything that happened and how you felt about them.
  2. The things I’m most proud of in the year are…
    It’s so important to take the time to celebrate. Remind yourself of everything you’ve achieved—and be proud of every single one of them.
  3. The greatest lessons I learned this year were…
    As humans, we are forever evolving and growing. That’s a part of life. Reflect on how you grew this year. Were there some specific lessons you learned? Or perhaps old lessons you were reminded of?
  4. The things that were hard in the year were…
    Reflecting on your challenging times can help you to make sense of them. It will remind you how strong and resilient you are, making you more confident for the new year ahead.
  5. After this year, I’m letting go of…
    Sometimes, there comes a time when you have to let go—of toxic things, bad habits, or people who no longer support you. You could even commit to making a conscious effort to let go of self-doubt, fear of failure, or anything that you feel is holding you back. Naturally, it will be a process to let go of these things, but putting down on paper your commitment to do exactly that will make it more likely for you to keep at it and succeed with it.
  6. The people (or animals) from this year I want to thank are…
    You could even write a thank you letter or message to each one of these individuals. They would love it.
  7. From this year, I’m taking these things to the next year…
    What worked this year that you want to take to the new year? What did you enjoy that you want to do more of? What good feelings did you have that you want to feel in the new year too?

Opening the New Year

Now that you’ve taken the time to reflect on what has happened in the last year and how it has affected you, you’re in a better position to think about what you want next.

  1. Next year, I want to feel…
    Be as literal or metaphorical as you want.
  2. The most beautiful life I can imagine next year looks like…
    Again, your imagination can go anywhere you want it to. The saying goes, “Aim for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars.”
  3. What I want to tell myself to prepare for the new year…
    Do you need to remind yourself of how capable you are? How brave you are? Of times when you’ve succeeded? Give yourself a good pep talk to prepare yourself for the new year and to remind yourself of what matters most to you.
  4. My goals for next year include…
    This is an opportunity to get specific. You can go as far as setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound). Personally, I like to leave them a little vague to leave space for spontaneity—but you need to do what works best for you. For example, are you more motivated and likely to stick to your goal by saying, “I want to work out three days a week every week,” or would you rather leave it open to interpretation, such as with, “I want to lean into yoga and do more of it this year”? Find what works for you. Remember not to set too many goals or you will end up overwhelmed. Pick a maximum of five life areas that are most important to you (e.g. family, mind, body, work, leisure)—and stick to one to two goals in each of them.
  5. My word for the next year is…
    Picking a word for the year is a great way to set an overarching theme for the year. This should not contradict your goals but fit in with them. If you struggle with this, start by choosing your word and then do your goals after. They all need to work well together.
  6. My intention for next year is…
    Whilst your goals are focused on what you want to achieve in the future, intentions are about how you want to feel in the present moment. Think about how you want to live each day, how you want to feel, and how you want to walk through life. For example, one year my word was “slow”—and in line with that, my intention was to do things more mindfully, to stop rushing, and to take my time with enjoying things.
  7. My affirmation for next year is…
    What is the one (or few) affirmation(s) you can come back to in the new year to remind yourself of who you are, what you’re aiming for, or how you want to feel?
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