How to have a fresh start in the New Year

By planetm | January 4, 2022

A fresh start, a clean slate, a new page. There’s something appealing about the chance to begin again, says Annika Rose.

fresh start

After the rollercoaster ride that was the previous year, it feels like there’s greater anticipation than ever to leave the chaos and challenges of last year in the past, and start afresh this year. But what does that look like, how is it possible and where do you even begin?

The highs and lows of last year served as an important reminder that there are some things you can control, and some you simply can’t. Even when everything feels utterly chaotic, it’s helpful to remember that your attitude, your outlook and your response to whatever is going on are all things you are responsible for and can consciously choose to take control of. The most effective way to do this is by aligning your choices with what’s most meaningful and brings a sense of purpose into your everyday life.

While many people take the cue of a new year to forge a new beginning of sorts, most resolutions simply don’t stick. Why? It commonly comes down to the goal you’ve set being too broad and vague (‘this year I’m going to get healthy’) or not being relevant enough to drive you to take regular action (‘I resolve to read more books’). We’ve all been there and done it, myself included. This haphazard approach can leave you lacking the motivation needed to make and sustain lasting lifestyle changes. Sadly, your brief attempt adds to the mounting stats showing that resolutions don’t work and making them is a waste of time.

A better approach to take instead is considering what creating a new chapter could look like, on your terms, and how you could turn your most exciting goals into an everyday reality moving forward. As the author of your own story, you get to choose what to write into the script and which direction to take things next. There are no ‘shoulds’ in this approach, it’s totally tailored to you and what lights you up, whether that’s joining a local walking group, starting a side-hustle, singing in an online choir or raising funds for refugees.

You can review or rediscover what you deeply enjoy and find most exciting at any point. Today is just as good a day as any to start your most meaningful chapter yet, so try not to get too caught up in the ‘new year, new you’ hype and remind yourself you can start a chapter change whenever you’re ready to.

Start by considering what brings a deep sense of purpose to your life. Notice if you’re finding excuses to procrastinate or take no action at all – be curious about what’s holding you back, then compassionately move beyond this block and take a single small step in the direction of your desires to get started.

Living your life with more meaning involves feeling that the actions you take are worthwhile and that you belong to, or contribute towards, something greater than yourself. Meaning is an essential element of your wellbeing that can help you feel good and function at your best. Your most resilient and engaged self relies on meaning to make sense of what you do and how you show up in the world.

To discover your sense of meaning and tap into your inner passion, consider what is important to you – what do you value most? Where do your strengths and talents really lie? What lights you up, brings a sense of joy and creates a feeling of ease and flow? In what ways do you belong or how can you contribute to something greater than yourself?

The answers to these questions may have changed significantly over the last twelve months as the challenges and changes you went through shaped your priorities or pastimes in new ways. Once you’ve explored what is most meaningful to you now, you can choose to make the space to bring more of it into your life more regularly. This is how you consciously create a new chapter that feels truly aligned with your passions and allows you to live your life with purpose.

It can be helpful to visualise what living life with more purpose looks like to you. What does your day involve? Who are you with? Where are you and what are you doing? What are you contributing to? If you have a daily practice such as yoga, meditation or walking, bring this visualisation into your daily routine and start to regularly immerse yourself in what the most purposeful version of everyday life feels and looks like for you. It’s a powerful way to start setting some meaningful goals, taking control of the things you can, and weaving passion and purpose into the many moments that make up your day.

Throughout your life (and in particular, more recently) there will have been times where you’ve had to start over. This time it’s going to be consciously created. Any time is the right time to begin again, so clarify what’s most important to you, declare a new chapter has begun and step courageously into the future you deeply desire.

Tips to create a fresh start

  • Rewrite your story by giving yourself permission to live life passionately and with purpose. While you can’t always control what’s going on in your world, you have control over your response to whatever arises.
  • Rediscover a passion, try something different or take an adventure! Be curious about what lights you up and be open to saying yes to experiences that align with your skills, strengths and passions.
  • Make a plan that clearly outlines what you want life to look like. Use your creativity to bring this plan to life – journal, visualise, mind map, make a collage or talk it through with a friend.
  • Seek support as you step into a fresh start. Who can you read about or reach out to? Who inspires you, in what ways do they live a meaningful life and how can they be a role model for you?
  • Be kind to yourself as starting anew can bring about a whole range of different emotions; excitement, fear, apprehension, stress, delight! Remind yourself to approach this new start with curiosity and self-compassion.
  • Know when to say no if something doesn’t align with your goals and dreams or you’re being pulled away from your passions and purpose.
  • It’s never too late to start a new chapter, so don’t worry about arbitrary dates like January 1st or waiting until everything is perfect. Seize the day and begin a new chapter that’s driven by finding your passion and pursuing your purpose, not driven by peer pressure, what’s popular or other’s expectations

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This article first appeared in issue 15 of Planet Mindful magazine. Want to live more mindfully? Check out more mindfulness techniques here.

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