Greeting the New Year with Intention
As the year 2021 comes to an end, many people will use the metaphorical “turning of the page” as an opportunity to celebrate the finale of another challenging and special year.
More than a chance for celebration, the new year also represents an opportunity for professionals and leaders to reflect, take stock and plan ahead. In other words, the new year is a great moment to intentionally envision the year ahead.
At Nebo, we have created a three-step process that leaders can use to create visions for their future. In the process, we use three questions.
- Where have I been?
- Where am I now?
- Where am I going?
In the following paragraphs, I’ll walk you through a short writing exercise using these three questions as a foundation. The exercise is a practice in crossing over into the new year with intentionality, while paying homage to the successes, challenges, and perhaps even failures that you are leaving behind.
I suggest that you take 10 – 20 minutes (or longer!) to complete this exercise. Try to pencil some time into your calendar or find a quiet moment in your day. Before you embark on this exercise, ensure you are in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Practice closing your office door, muting your notifications, or writing with pen and paper rather than on a computer. You might choose to dim the lights or get yourself a cup of tea. Use this as an opportunity to create some ceremony around the practice.
Read through these steps once fully, so you know what to expect, and then work through them one at a time. For this exercise, I suggest you focus only on the year you’re leaving behind and the year ahead, but you may choose to branch out further if it feels right.
Find a comfortable seat. Sit up tall, roll your shoulders down your back. Place your hands in your lap and close your eyes.
Take three, slow deep breaths. Inhale fully through the nose and exhale completely through the mouth. With each exhale, feel your body soften. As you breathe, feel your mind begin to quiet.
After you have finished taking your breaths, reflect on this first question: Where have I been?
Think back through what has happened over this past year. You may choose to think through each month in turn. Notice what emotions come up for you. Do they change depending on the month or the season? As you reflect, notice what moments stand out to you. Were they triumphs or pain points? Think through what happened that you were exceptionally proud of. Think about what moments you wish went differently. Think about yourself in those moments of happiness and challenge. How did you show up? When were you at your best? Where were the opportunities for growth? See if you can fill in the details: what were the names of those around you, what colors or smells do you associate with the year, what were some of your favorite places, and what did they feel like?
Take a moment and write down anything that comes to mind as you think through the questions above. Write until you feel as if you have a time capsule of the year.
Now it’s time to reflect on the second question. When you’re ready, stop writing and return to your comfortable seat. Again, take a few breaths and clear your mind. Now, take a few moments to reflect on the following: Where am I now?
As you think about this question, stay in the present. What’s true in your life right now? Today? This moment? What are your emotions? How is your body feeling? Do any stressors pop into your mind? Do you find yourself on a roll, in a rut, or somewhere in between?
Think about anything that is looming before the end of the year that you want to accomplish. Think through your relationships and what’s happening within them. What gives you joy right now? Think about the habits that you’ve adopted and think about how they are serving you.
Let this writing prompt be a snapshot of your life at the current moment, and without judgment, write down what’s true for you in this moment.
When you have finished with the second question, we’ll move onto the final prompt. As we’ve done before, take the time for a few breaths to clear your mind. Now ask yourself: Where am I going?
Look forward to the year ahead. A new, blank slate awaits you, but how the year unfolds will be influenced by your past and your present states. What choices do you want to make in the new year to be the best version of yourself? What elements of the past year served you well that you want to bring forward into the new year? What do you want to leave in the past?
Imagine that you enter this new year refreshed, restored, and ready. What habits have you put in place to achieve this desired state? In the new year, how do you want to show up for the people in your life? How do you want to show up each morning for work? In what state do you hope to end the workday each day?
Think about your goals, dreams, and priorities. What do you hope you’ll accomplish by the end of 2022? Write down all that you can imagine, without limiting yourself. Let this vision of the future year be aspirational and exciting.
Write until you feel as if the vision of your year ahead encapsulates something exciting, motivating, and worth aiming for.
For the final step in this exercise, read back through what you’ve written. Ensure that your vision for the year ahead includes your best intentions and fill in missing spots as needed.
Now, take just the future vision portion of your writing and file it away somewhere. As you move through the year ahead, revisit your vision periodically, reminding yourself of your intentions and goals.
Remember not to hold yourself too tightly to what you’ve written. Rather, let these words be a guiding light as you move through the year to come.
A visioning exercise is always aspirational. We know that we can’t predict exactly how the future will unfold, nor can we control it. But what we can do is articulate who we hope to be in that future and what we wish to accomplish. By having a clear vision in your mind, you’re able to reflect on it in moments of challenge and choose your actions based on your ideal goals.
As we welcome in 2022, we wish you light, comfort, and health – and the courage to imagine it as your best year yet.