As the new year begins, it’s a great time to let go of the past and embrace possibility. Here, easy ways to start your next chapter full of the joy you deserve.
Write yourself a letter.
Before looking ahead, we need to reflect on what’s come before, and the best way to do that is by writing a letter to yourself, says expert Michelle Jacobik. “There’s something about sitting down to do this that instantly makes you more mindful about what you want to evoke.” Just ask yourself what challenges you’ve experienced in the past year, as well as what unexpected gifts you received. “Writing my letter helped me realize that even in the midst of a divorce, my ex and I still managed to co-parent well and I was a better mom than I was giving myself credit for.” These silver linings prime you to look to the future with optimism.
Pick your hero.
What’s the last TV show you loved? The answer can help you shift toward a growth mindset, promises counselor Suzanne Degges-White, PhD, “Which character did you cherish? What aspect of her journey made you laugh or cheer?” You may, for example, admire how a main character grew over the course of a series, helping you realize you want that for yourself. Just looking at your goals through the lens of a narrative helps you see your life as an unfolding story. “Letting yourself be inspired by a fictional ‘avatar’ gives you the space to dream.”
‘Meet’ your future.
To help you visualize in more detail exactly what you want your future to look like, just imagine yourself one to three years from now, urges Jacobik. “What do you want to feel more of and what do want to let go of? How do you want to spend a typical weeknight — learning something new, reading, or dancing ?” Projecting yourself forward lets you discover surprising goals and aspirations. Says Jacobik, “Taking a moment to ‘meet’ the woman in your future and asking her for her wisdom will help guide you.”
It’s said that real change requires stepping outside of your comfort zone — and that can be a lot more fun than it sounds, promises expert Maria Leonard Olsen. “I made a list of 50 things I wanted to try in my 50th year to reinvigorate my life,” she says, revealing that even when her adventures went “bust,” they often led to unexpected gifts. “I challenged myself to karaoke, and I never need to do that again,” she laughs. “But it helped build my courage.” Whatever you choose, just let yourself be creative and experiment.
Lean on friends.
Writing a new chapter doesn’t mean you can’t have “co-authors”: Ask friends for help, says Degges-White. If you want to, say, get healthier, ask a pal to share her favorite light recipe. If you’d like to expand your spiritual circle, invite a cousin to pray with you. Letting others in on your journey brings you closer.
Savor your kudos.
“When I started over after a big move from North Carolina to Illinois, I focused on symbols of how much people cared about me — we all get them in life but rarely keep them,” says Degges-White. Just think about when others expressed appreciation, be it a thank you from a stranger or a caring text from a friend. “They validate your strengths are visible and you can make a transition at any age, any stage.”
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.