Be unafraid to examine what happened to you this year – the good things you did, and more importantly, the shitty things you did. People you hurt, people who hurt you. Times when you put yourself out there, and times when you should have put yourself out there but were too scared of rejection. Think about the thrills you felt when you tried new things, and the self-loathing you felt when you stayed right where you were because you were afraid. Think about how much better it felt to take a risk and deal with potential failure than it did to stay safely in your comfort zone.
Be at once kind to yourself and hard on yourself. Forgive yourself for all the mistakes you made, but learn from them. Give those mistakes meaning in your story so that you can make sure they didn’t happen for nothing. Acknowledge that you did stupid things, selfish things, lazy things, cowardly things – and do not do them again. Grow from them, be a better and more empathetic person because of them.
Think back on all the times you stood paralyzed when someone needed your help. Promise yourself you’ll do it differently this time around – enter the new year with unclouded eyes and an open heart, always looking out for ways that you can make someone else’s life a little or a lot better. Do not be one more statistic in the bystander effect. Be the person that jumps in to help, and watch how quickly everyone else will follow your lead. And do not forget that even a small act of kindness on your end can mean much more to someone than you ever realize.
Be aware of all of the ways you were privileged this year, especially if it makes you uncomfortable – that’s usually a sign that you’re aware of how much easier your life can (sometimes or often) be in comparison to others. Thank the people that got you to where you are today. Be proud of your accomplishments and your hard work, but be aware of all the assistance you got along the way. Find a way to start giving that help and support back to people who are not as fortunate as you.
Bask in the beauty of how unimportant you are. Think of all the times over the last year that you let something small affect you so deeply, even though you knew it really had nothing to do with you. Next time someone bumps into you on the sidewalk without apologizing or cuts in front of you at the grocery store, let it go in that moment. Remember that they did not begin their day thinking about ways they could make yours more miserable – so you should not spend the rest of your day, or week, with a chip on your shoulder. They’ve already forgotten about you, so forget about them.
Think of all the times you didn’t listen to your gut, and how wrong that felt. Like when you knew you should have kissed that person but you didn’t. Or when you screwed up and knew you should have apologized, but were too stubborn. Or when you didn’t apply to that one awesome job, even though you had felt stagnant in your career for months. Come to terms with the fact that even when you don’t like what your gut is saying, it’s usually right. Trust that you’ve been through enough shit that your intuition is now as sharp as a knife.
Recall all the things you were convinced were going to bring you happiness, and then didn’t. Think about how initially infatuated you were with your new salary or apartment or phone and then how quickly you got used to it. Remember how quickly you moved on from one thing to the next, and how the next thing was never the thing that finally brought you happiness. Do not feel like you have to think of raises and nice apartments and smartphones as evil – you just have to understand their purpose: Fun, enjoyable distractions. Not answers.
Remember all the times this past year that you felt uncomfortable or out of sorts and acknowledge that those were the times you were growing the most. A life should have plenty of moments filled with joy and happiness. But don’t confuse easiness with happiness. Think of all the moments you felt unsettled or nervous – and how that usually involved you working towards something or becoming someone better than you could have ever imagined.
Say goodbye to 2015 with hope, gratitude, excitement, and wonder. But also say goodbye to this year with self-awareness and cognizance of where you need to go in the future. It’s okay to be afraid, it’s okay to be uncertain, it’s okay to be overwhelmed with the amount of things you want to do. Just don’t let yourself stand in the corner, paralyzed with fear. There’s too much adventure waiting for you.