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Celebrating the New Year: looking ahead and reflecting back

Happy 2022! After the past couple of years we've had, a brand New Year might sound really appealing.

This time of year you hear a lot about resolutions for the New Year and advertisements for “New Year, New You.” Now, setting goals and trying to change for the better is always a good thing (and I encourage people to do this in the new year), but resolutions miss the mark. Oftentimes resolutions are vague, overzealous, unimportant and most resolutions are forgotten or given up on before your Christmas decor has been put away.

However, this is not actually a post about resolutions, or even goals really. It's about fresh starts, making changes and reflecting on all the good in your life.

What if it’s not about setting a ton of goals, resolutions, and areas to improve at the beginning of the new year, but to be able to reflect back on the past year of your life with a feeling of peace and contentment.

I’m all for growth and change - I would certainly be in the wrong profession if I wasn’t - but I’m also for reflecting back and feeling good about what you notice. You can have both.

Over the past few years, I've heard many people say that they want to write off the entire year, and yes, families have had remarkably hard and long stretches, but it just doesn't work that way. You can't forget a year, or pretend it never happened. You can't get it back, either.

I saw this idea somewhere years ago and loved it. It's a family friendly activity, regardless of your Pinterest status. Grab any jar (a clear jar might be the most fun), create a few colored strips of paper, and write down the good stuff that happens over the next 52 weeks. Any memorable event, large or small, or when something exciting happens, or someone learned something or overcame a challenging situation, worked really, really hard and earned a C+, went out of their way to be kind or helpful - write it down and add it to the jar. It would be easy to focus on outcomes here (e.g., won a championship, got straight As,) and you can definitely include those accolades, but don't forget to include the really important things (like effort and kindness).

You can definitely use different color papers, but I wouldn’t assign colors to family members. It’s not a competition, and you’re all on the same team anyway!

Then, on December 31st 2022, your family can go through the jar and read each piece of paper and take a minute to remember the highs of the year. Life has been hard lately, and it’s unfortunately easier to remember the tough times during the year. Here's a way to remember all the good that can happen, even in the hardest of times.

Wishing you peace and contentment, and maybe even a little bit of growth in 2022.


Dr. Kate

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