Sadness washed over me as I listened to the stories that supported her statement. Instead of feeling anticipation and hope, this woman was drowning in dread.
It doesn’t need to be this way. You can write a different story. In fact, you have the ability, the power and the freedom to write a fresh script if you really want to.
The New Year doesn’t have to be more of the same “stuff” all over again. This is an ideal time to get brutally honest. What has to change and how willing are you to make those changes? While natural disasters could crash your world, the truth is that YOU get to decide most of your experiences.
Here are some guidelines for approaching the process and improving your outcomes:
Get clear about what you want. New years often mirror old ones because you don’t take time to figure out exactly what you want in the first place. As a result, you stumble around in the dark and wonder why you’re disappointed.
Yearning for a job change? Interested in acquiring additional skills? Aspiring to be a better parent? Excited to buy a house? Make a specific list. Put it in writing. Then, identify what’s standing in the way of you manifesting each of these desires.
Commit to optimal health. There’s a difference between perfect health and the best health status you can achieve given your body, genetics, budget and circumstances. When was your last physical exam? Did you stop exercising this summer? Are you eating fast food and going to bed later at night?
Over the next four weeks face the truth. What has to happen to schedule a doctor appointment, resume walking, choose healthful meals and turn out the lights earlier? How can you build your calendar to include time for relaxation and fun?
Take steps to resolve ongoing conflicts. Hostile clashes, whether overt or covert, are draining and upsetting. Holding grudges is exhausting. Make an effort to get along with people, even if you dislike them. Where necessary, take the initiative to bring about authentic reconciliation — or at least a truce.
Do this now, at work and at home. Don’t procrastinate. Wouldn’t you like to invest your finite energy in more meaningful, more rewarding activities?
Confront feelings of overwhelm. These days most people are merely trying to survive in the raging sea of overload, and it’s likely that you are in this majority. Struggling to balance scores of family obligations, career responsibilities, financial decisions, and community concerns often leads to high stress, anger, depression, and fatigue. Typically, it doesn’t yield happiness. Examine your priorities. Determine what you could delegate or eliminate to obtain relief.
Manage regrets and resentments. Although part of life, these traps can sabotage your future if left to run wild. Take stock of your regrets and resentments — both past and present.
To what extent are you allowing them to influence your choices and stagnate your dreams? Perhaps it’s time to take control and put all of these things in perspective. The reality is that you can’t alter the past, but you can shape the present. Forgiveness of self and others goes a long way when it comes to wrapping up one year and getting ready for the next.
Heal your grief. Over and over, I am stunned by the amount of baggage people carry in the form of grief.
From what losses have you not yet healed? A loved one’s death? A job termination? A child’s rejection? A cancer-free body? A friendship? A certain physical appearance? A geographical move? A financial bath? In what ways are you not whole?
Your answers to these questions — whatever they may be — are like chains around your neck. Unresolved grief is a burden that wears you out and drags you down. Do what you need to do to facilitate the healing you deserve.
Embrace change. Inevitable and necessary, change is ultimately good. Even changes you wouldn’t choose can have a positive impact on your life. Resisting change only brings misery. The key is to flow with it. Breathe it in like oxygen. Expect it. Make no mistake: this requires something from you. Such a mindset shift is the finest gift you can give yourself in this twelfth and final month! Whatever’s getting in your way of accepting change must be removed.
If you can’t do it alone, seek help. Your future depends on it.
Portions of this article originally appeared on Pennlive.