How to start your New Year with purpose and joy

Today is the last day of 2014, which means most of us are already thinking about our goals for 2015, and probably focusing on what we did not accomplish this year and want to work on next year. Sound like you? I know I do this. But what if we try something different going into 2015?

What if instead of creating more to-do lists, and goals for the new year, we make a list of all the things we were proud of this year  — small and big successes — and focus on those right now before setting “resolutions” for next year?

Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for a second as you reflect on all you have done  in 2014, no matter how seemingly minor.  Going a step further and jotting down your accomplishments for the past year will help you form the foundation for what is to come in 2015.

Try this exercise to give yourself a feeling of success and purpose:

1.Write down on paper, in a journal, or on your computer — or audio record — what you have accomplished in the last year.  If you are having a hard time remembering, try going back and looking at your calendar to help jog your memory.

2. List all of your accomplishments and personal successes.  Think about your career, your family, your fitness goals and other areas that are important to you.

3. Then, dig deeper.  Reflect on accomplishments that go beyond the traditional way of thinking.  To do this, you may want to ask a close friend, or spouse, to review your list, and whether they have any additional accomplishments to add.

4. Finally, add a few descriptive lines about each accomplishment.  Be specific.  Include the challenges you faced, the actions you took, and the results of your actions.

By doing this exercise you will not only realize that you have accomplished much in 2014, but you will be more prepared to enter 2015 with highly achievable goals.

Too often we diminish our accomplishments by immediately shifting to what we could have done better instead of taking a moment to just bask in the glow of well-earned success. I have caught myself doing this so many times. Instead of being thankful and happy for a few minutes for what I have achieved, I move on, and try to figure out “what’s next?”

Moving forward is important and the new year is a great time to set goals and really think about how you can get better, but it is also incredibly helpful and healthy to take some time to reflect on all the things you have achieved up until now.  As the old saying goes, “Know where you have been so you can figure out where you are going.” I bet this will bring you more joy.

Happy New Year!