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Start the New Year Off Right — Chart Your Course & Follow Your Compass

Are you ready for 2021? The practical way mariners sail through stormy seas shows us the way to put 2020 behind us and start the new year off right. “Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding your self that everything happens for a reason.” ~ John Mayer

Usually this is the time I begin to take stock of my year and make sense of my losses and victories. I look for what worked and what didn’t. Seeing what I predicted and what I got. However, I think this process needs to be very different this year. 

2020 has been a year like no other for many of us. It came quickly and with no warning and it has left us confused, disoriented, lonely and exhausted. It’s like we were sailing on already turbulent seas that changed quickly into huge waves that may have at times plunged us into depression, or swelling to peaks of anxiety and pushing us to places we never imagined going.

In order to start 2021 with the right frame of mind we need to first fully acknowledge the impact this year has had on us on these four levels:

  • Emotional — sadness, anger, frustration, depression anxiety, confusion, loneliness due to long-term isolation and canceled plans.
  • Physical — increase pain due to immobility and touch starvation.
  • Mental — anxiety, rumination, negative thinking, traumatic stress symptoms.
  • Spiritual — soul exhaustion, lack of motivation, questioning meaning and purpose of life.

Starting a new year has great symbolic meaning for us. It’s a fresh start that usually energizes us. But because the problems of 2020 are dragging on, we’re still sailing on troubled waters.

How do we start the new year off right, with enthusiasm and renewed energy?

I say we need a ritual for leaving the pain and stress of 2020 behind us. It’s a way of closing the door and saying this is behind us. For some people this can be an ephemeral ritual like burning items that holds painful emotions. For other people their rituals will be more actionable in nature — like changing the way you purchase/consume goods. We all have routines that we can change into rituals by performing them more mindfully.

Whatever ritual you choose, I’d like to recommend that after acknowledging the effects 2020 has had on you, examine what you’ve learned. Then use the learning and let go of the stuff you don’t need so it becomes a very intentional process. It reminds me of what Pele said, “Success isn’t determined by how many times you win, but by how you play the week after you lose.”

I appreciate this concept by Tara Brach — she uses this acronym RAIN as an easy-to-remember tool for practicing mindfulness and compassion…

“Recognize what is happening;

Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;

Investigate with interest and care (I would add without judgment);

Nurture with self-compassion.”

We can’t go back and we don’t stand still. Normally we move forward at a comfortable pace. This year has been like a tsunami that has thrust us out of our comfort zone. Sometimes all we could do was to hang on until things calm down.

During any period of calm, it’s important that we recalibrate our course and get back on track. That’s where our mindfulness and being intentional keeps us on course to our chosen destination. Intentional and purposeful action sets the stage for better things to come. Just as ancient mariners oriented their location on the high seas according to fixed points in the night sky, so we must have fixed, stabilizing influences in our lives.

Although we may be sailing in uncharted waters, we have not lost our ability to chart our course through them. An intentional approach supports us as we grow from these crises. Our compass is our purpose, which keeps us centered as we adjust to our circumstances in a way that true to our values, ethics and life’s mission.

We’ve all been shaken out of our status quo and we can use this to propel ourselves forward, rather than settling back into a place of comfort.

How are you going to start the new year off right and leave 2020 behind? Any new rituals you’d like to share? I’d love it if you’d share your ideas on my Facebook page. And stay tuned…I have something extra special planned for the end of this year. So be sure to bookmark my blog and come back every Wednesday, when I post to it. And sign up for my Neways News — my loyal readers always get the scoop before anyone else.

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