“I am happy because I’m grateful. I choose to be grateful. That gratitude allows me to be happy.” ~Will Arnett
The start of a new year often inspires us to change our lives, if only a little bit. We finally push old habits and behaviors aside (most times), create healthy goals, and begin to change our lives in all sorts of wonderful ways. But as soon as the fire and excitement of the new year die down, we end up where we started.
We are so easily overwhelmed by what’s coming at us, that we never take the time to look back. We need time for self-reflection. Time for introspection. Time to understand our actions and reactions, achievements and failures, hopes, dreams, and desires.
It’s time to take stock of your life so you can grow forward!
What have we learned from being on this planet? How can we use this knowledge to create our ideal life instead of constantly reacting to whatever is thrown at us? Whether you are a teen or in your 50s, these questions should be asked and answered.
And who knows? Maybe at the end of this self-assessment, you’ll discover that your life is already in a wonderful place. If that’s the case, great. Then maybe you can just kick back and start taking in life, not worrying about what you need to do to make it better. If not, don’t worry—it’s a good thing to realize that your life isn’t ideal. It gives you the chance to figure out where you are, and decide on how you want things to be different. Then you can go further than where you are now—become a better friend or spouse or parent or employee. You can even use these improvements as part of your resolutions for the new year! So let’s jump into this.
How do you take stock of your life?
We don’t always realize it as we go through life, but each day we make choices; some are conscious but even more are unconscious. Sometimes they are decisions that have long-term implications and sometimes they have an immediate impact. And anytime a decision is made without considering the consequences, there is a risk of making the wrong choice. In order to avoid those mistakes, we need to take some time, breathe, and reassess what we’ve been doing, where we’re going, and why. It’s important to reflect on where you’re at and determine what needs to be changed or improved before you move ahead with your goals and new year resolutions.
Too often we charge in when it would be better to assess where we are first. It can be painful to look back to see our mistakes and shortcomings. And yet, it’s the best way to determine what we need to do to make significant changes in our lives. Before you prepare to start the new year with loads of new resolutions and goals, take some time to reassess your life in these different areas.
What Are Your True Obligations?
Ever wish you had more time for what was genuinely important to you? Now’s the time to make that change. And the first step is by looking at all the things you’ve taken on that no longer feel important. Consider each committee, sponsorship, extended family, and friend obligations that no longer feel fun. If they feel like a burden, it’s time to unload them. That may feel challenging. After all, no one wants to let others down. But this is your life, and it’s time to choose you instead of others’ wants.
How are your finances?
If you wish you had more money but can’t or don’t want to work more to get it, take a careful look at your finances. Quite often, little wants turn into needs. Scan through last year’s bank statements and make a note of any recurring payments. You may wince when you see how much you’ve spent on unnecessary things throughout the year. Having occasional treats for you and your family is okay. But if “shopping therapy” has become a burden, now’s the time to fix it. Make a list of all the ways you could cut back without feeling deprived. For example, could you eat out two nights a week instead of four? Is it essential that you shop for clothes every month? How much could you save if you took your lunch to work three days a week instead of getting take-out? Do you find it fun to have four bazillion TV channels? These are just a few ways you can trim expenses, so you can save for things that matter to you instead.
What Are Your Dreams and Goals?
Many people cite not having enough time or not enough money as the reason why they stay in dead-end jobs, don’t pursue their passions, or make real changes in their lives. If that was you and you’ve taken our advice and reevaluated your obligations and finances, those excuses should no longer be holding you back. So, what do you want really? To go back to school and start a new career? Turn your side-hustle or hobby into a business? Purchase and cook homemade, whole foods that support your health and wellness? By choosing to make those two changes in your life, you’ve now opened up a whole new world for yourself. Grab it, and don’t look back!
The new year is a great time to take stock of your life and make any adjustments you might need to achieve more balance, happiness in your relationships, more success in your career, and so on. Rather than making drastic changes come the new year (and potentially missing them due to poor planning), take some time between Christmas and New Year’s to reassess your position; then you’ll be well prepared to start the year with smart, achievable goals.
Even if we never realize it, we all begin the new year with one common goal: to improve our lives. Whether you resolve to lose weight or read more, purchase a new home or travel around the world, chances are, you’re working toward something. The key is to make sure you’re making the most of it by taking an honest look at where you stand today before you move forward toward your goals. After all, there’s no point in trying to reinvent yourself if you don’t even know who you were in the first place. Happy New Year!