Round Out Your Year With Gratitude

Round Out Your Year With Gratitude

As we make our way into the New Year and are bombarded by posts about resolutions and setting goals for the future, a lot of us can’t help but realize how far we have fallen from the lofty expectations we set last New Year. You may be 100% ready to move on and forget 2018, or hate the idea of New Year resolutions in general, or feel bitter about all the goals you’ve set but haven’t followed through with. Whether you are a resolution maker, or dislike the whole idea, the importance of good endings is sometimes forgotten in our race to the next thing. Although having goals, or reaching them is wonderful, it is often easy to forget to appreciate how we get there. We get so caught up in the idea of either goal reached or goal failed that we forget to appreciate the experience of the journey itself.

Rather than spending all your time looking ahead to the New Year and thinking about all the goals you will tackle come January 1st, instead take some time to reflect on your past year from a point of gratitude for how far you’ve come. The best way to continue personal growth and motivation is to learn from and appreciate your experiences, both the successful ones and the ones you might normally want to shove to the back of the closet. This is especially the case if you are doing this with small children and working to build their growth mindset and resilience skills. To help with this, practice reframing what you might otherwise consider failures, or not having reached a goal as:

  • Learning opportunities for what you could do differently next time,
  • Just the first step along the way to a goal,
  • Something that is giving you more information about your approach.

Before you plan your goals and resolutions for 2019, reflect on the experiences and lessons 2018 has given you. Here are some prompts and questions you can use to get you started looking back at your year with gratitude and a resilient mind-set:

  • What are you proud of for accomplishing this past year? Perhaps you didn’t make all your goals, but rather than focus on what you didn’t do, try to think of any steps that you made toward your goals that are taking you in the right direction. Perhaps you finally sat down and took a real look at your finances to know what your spending habits are, even if you didn’t follow through or even write out a budget to stick to.
  • What experiences did you have that you appreciate? Did you prioritize spending time with your family or loved ones more than you had in previous years? Did you push your comfort zone and play on the company softball team just to prove to yourself that you could?
  • Or perhaps something didn’t go well, what did you learn from this? Perhaps you actually spent less time with family and friends than you intended. Beating yourself up for what you didn’t do in the past won’t help anyone, especially you, to make a change in the future. Instead, ask yourself: what got in the way? If you can perceive the roadblocks, great! Now you have better information to help yourself make changes moving forward. (Hint: If you want to do more of something, quite literally schedule it into your week!)
  • What was the biggest challenge, or fear, you faced this past year? Maybe you agreed to do that big presentation. Maybe it didn’t go as well as you had hoped. But holy cow, you should be so proud for putting yourself out there and challenging yourself! You are stronger for it.
  • Who has helped you this past year? Perhaps a teacher or mentor gave you a compliment that really stuck with you and encouraged you to keep going when times were tough. Or a friend helped you out when you needed it.
  • What have you learned about yourself this past year? Maybe you learned something new about yourself, your goals or your priorities, or perhaps this past year just reinforced who you already knew yourself to be.
  • Focus on the bright spots. It’s so easy to focus on and analyze what didn’t go well, what we failed to do, and what went wrong. But what if instead we analyzed what did work and go well? How did you accomplish that? What helped you to do well in those areas? How can you apply what you learned about the successes to create more good stuff in your year ahead? Instead of trying to prevent the bad stuff from happening, work on building your pile of small, good things.

For so many of us, the New Year is a time of hope, possibilities, and renewal. Why not take this perspective and spread it throughout 2019? Here are a few ideas for new traditions to keep the spirit of New Year going year-round.

  • Quarterly New Years: I have grown to love the excitement and burst of motivation from New Year’s Eve. Last year I suddenly wondered, why can’t I recreate this feeling for myself more often?! So last year I adopted holding quarterly New Year’s Eves. Every 3 months I set aside an evening to reflect on what I have been proud of accomplishing in the previous quarter, and what I want to continue working on in the next 3 months. This is the first year that I have EVER followed through with keeping up motivation and goals for the whole year. Plus it’s great fun to have a mini celebration for yourself and your loved ones every 3 months.
  • Gratitude Jar: Another way to be more intentional about keeping up a gratitude practice with yourself or your family throughout the year is to make a gratitude jar. At the end of each month (or if you’re really enthusiastic, try it each day), write down something you are grateful for and put it in the jar. You could start a new tradition of revisiting these little moments of appreciation on New Year’s Eve by reading through everything you have experienced the past year. Or if that sounds time consuming, another great idea is to put a bead in the jar to represent a grateful moment. Over the December holidays, the beads can be strung together for tree or house decorations as a visual reminder of all your family has been grateful for this last year.

We would love to hear from you! What are some New Year’s traditions your family loves? Don’t really have any? Stay tuned for ideas next week!

Image: © Antonio Guillem |

Livia Carpenter
Livia Carpenter is the Clinical Supervisor for KITS. She has been with the organization since 2008. Livia has a passion for working with kids from high risk backgrounds, which began when working with foster children prior to coming to OSLC. When she is not inspiring those she works with, she reads, tries new recipes, makes art, and really enjoys a good, whole-hearted belly laugh.


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