Finding Meaning and Purpose in the New Year

Finding Meaning and Purpose in the New Year


There’s something interesting about how we react to New Year’s: part of us is apprehensive about what’s ahead, while another part of our brain feels a small spark of excitement at the possibilities in our future. There’s conflict built right into the celebration; after all, New Year’s Eve marks the time of letting go. New Year’s Day is set aside for reflection and looking forward. It’s a push/pull situation, especially for someone who has experienced a significant loss during the last 12 months. 

(It doesn’t always have to be the death of someone dear to you; there are many significant losses– the end of a marriage, the loss of a job, the foreclosure of your home, the end of a friendship–each ‘rocks your world’ to its foundation. And, it’s a hard truth: as we age, rarely a year goes by without multiple losses.)

So, here you are, in the dark of winter and in sadness, caught in the space between wanting to hang on to the past and needing to move forward into the New Year with (some measure) of enthusiasm. You do that by opening your mind, heart and spirit to happiness. Oh yes, you also have to....

Trust in the “Magic of Beginnings”

Those aren’t our words; they belong to the 14th century German theologian Meister Eckhart, who captured the kernel of anticipation we can feel when there’s the promise of change: 

“And suddenly you know: It's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” 

Can you still feel the ‘magic’ in this time of beginnings? If you can, one morning, step outside to watch the sun rise. The joy in witnessing the magical transition between dark and light is what you’re looking for; hang on to it. 

Can you trust in yourself to begin living in a new way? Chances are you’ve been compelled to re-invent yourself before. Yes, it can be a challenge, but you’re up to the task. Just remember, big changes don’t happen overnight. 

Set both Resolutions and Goals

All by themselves, resolutions can be nasty, disappointing things. In 2015, the folks over at Statistics Brain determined that almost half of all Americans make a resolution at New Year’s and, of that number, 24% of them fail in the effort. That’s because there wasn’t a related goal attached to it. Here’s an example: you’ve set the resolution to “try something new” in the coming year. But what’s your plan? What “new things” do you want to try – and when?

As Melody Beattie wrote, in The Language of Letting Go, “The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.” This is the time of year to ask yourself what you’d like to happen in your life this coming year. Write it down. Then make the next decision: what one thing can you do right now to get started?

Before we go, we’d like to share these 14 words from poet Alfred Tennyson which, for us, captures the magic and promise of the New Year:

Smiles from the threshold of the year to come, 
Whispering 'it will be happier'..."

Wishing you peace and joy, 

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