Want to find contentment in the New Year? Look for ways to acknowledge what’s already working and pair it with intentions for the year ahead.
The concept of a new year can bring promise and sometimes a sense of not being content with what we have. Our mind is naturally inclined toward the negative and as a result we may focus on what needs to be fixed or what isn’t going well in our lives. We can bring an energy of discontentment into the New Year and with it a feeling of pressure. Have you ever heard yourself think, “This is the year that I have to…exercise more, meet the man/woman of my dreams, land that dream job, etc.”
The New Year is an opportunity to grow and develop new qualities that will more closely align with the kind of person we want to be and the life we want to be living. But first, it’s important to acknowledge everything that we already have and bring into the New Year with us. If we forget this important step, we are setting too lofty of expectations for our year because we are coming from a sense of lack vs. a feeling of “I have enough.”
“Changing is like being in a ship on the sea. You must build a new boat with material from the old one you’re traveling in. You can’t go on shore to destroy the old one first and then build a new one, but you have to reconstruct while sailing.”
As we move into 2016, I encourage the following steps to cultivate a contented New Year.
1. Acknowledge all the qualities you possess, your relationships, and experiences from the last year you are bringing with you into the New Year
When the New Year arrives, you don’t become a NEW you. You are the same person, but you have an opportunity for change and growth. You are bringing your compassion and your resiliency. You may bring your inner critic, your wisdom of the mind, body, and heart, and even your resistance to change. Make a list of what you are bringing with you.
2. Reflect on what you are grateful for
I notice for myself that when I dream of living a different life than what I am living, wanting something else, someone else, striving for something that isn’t right here, I suffer and I am not content with what I have. I take a lot of comfort in knowing how the simple act of bringing gratitude to the moment I am in shifts my mind from a sense of lack to contentment. If I can be happy now, under these circumstances and conditions (which are always changing and different than I sometimes wish them to be) then I can be happy anywhere, at any time. Allow yourself to feel the abundance in your life and then see how this impacts your hopes and wishes for the New Year.
I feel grateful for:
- my health
- my professional opportunities
- my friends and family
- living in a place where I can access nature easily
- my meditation practice
3. Cultivate an intention vs. a goal
In the New Year, we often set very specific goals with a short timeline. This creates a feeling of striving for the unachievable and instead of succeeding, we fail. Meaningful change happens on a continuum over time.
An intention is something we build and cultivate over time. It grows by watering it with attention, patience, and wise effort. A goal tends to have a specific result and is time oriented.
Goal Example: I must find the love of my life in the next two months.
Intention Example: My intention is to cultivate more love in my life. I know that by aligning my actions with this intention, I will be more loving and will attract more love in my life.
4. Share your intention with friends, family, and your greater community
When we share what we want in life and are witnessed in this, we have more power to manifest our greater potential. Here are some intentions I have heard this year.
- I want to cultivate more compassion toward myself and others.
- I want to become more generous.
- I want to develop more patience.
- I want to feel more proud of the person I am.
- I want to feel more comfortable with uncertainty.
5. Identify what actions are in alignment with this intention
Using the example above, if I am committed to bringing love into my life I will:
- Spend time nourishing my mind, body, and heart so that I can love all parts of myself.
- I will choose love over fear and dare to trust.
- I give the benefit of the doubt to other person and trust in their goodness.
- I will be more open to new people, no matter how they appear in my life.
- I will share with those around me, my intention for love in my life.
6. Be 100% committed to your intention for change
With repeated effort and staying true to your intention you will create what you seek. Be open to the surprise of how and when it occurs.
7. Review your progress over the year
I have been setting intentions for my life for several years and I find that checking in on my progress 3 times a year is really helpful. Identify a time when you will reflect on your progress with kindness and acceptance. Compassion vs. criticism is the greatest motivator toward change.
8. Let go so that you can bring in the new
In order to grow something new in your life you must make space for it. For example, if you are cultivating more patience then you must start to let go of impatience. By letting go of a certain way of being or a pattern in your life, you can manifest something different.
What do you want to let go of in 2015?
What do you want to bring in?
This article was originally featured on Mindful.org.