4 questions
for the New Year

Image: Help Stay | UnsplashDo you make New Year resolutions every year? How does that work out for you? Do you even remember what your resolution was last year? Did it turn out to be relevant?

Here are four questions that you could ask yourself to help empower a great start to the new year.
by David Durance
Fast away the old year passes,
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses:
Laughing quaffing all together,
Heedless of the wind and weather.
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

[Deck the Halls – traditional secular carol, Thomas Oliphant, 1862]
New Year’s disillusionment
Like many, I’ve made New Year’s resolutions, and like many I’ve given up on it. In fact, I became so disenchanted with the process that I once hosted a NYE party, with a theme of ‘Low Expectations’ (with apologies to C. Dickens!). Maybe the theme was overly cynical, but it turned out to be a relaxing enough party, free from all the hype and short-lived promises.

But I did notice that I’d reached a low point. Surely we should be looking forward to the coming year with zesty enthusiasm? And there did seem a point in setting some sort of intention – whether it be for lifestyle, love, work, or even dealing with some of the carry-over shit from the past year. However I wasn’t going to relent and rejoin the collective of jaded resolution makers – and breakers.
Image: Candre K | UnsplashLooking back to move forward
A year later I found myself on a beach with a group of friends, relaxing prior to what was going to be a big night of New Year’s Eve activities. Inspired by the rather magical late afternoon environment, I asked my friends a selection of questions, to facilitate a reflection of the past year. Everybody took it in turns to answer each question with heartfelt honesty, and all listened intently.

One of the most powerful parts of the process was answering questions about the past year’s experience, thereby ‘closing off’ the year. This is where the simpler making of a new year’s resolution falls down – how do we move forward properly if we haven’t acknowledged what has gone before?
Share the light
Every year since then I’ve been asked to facilitate a ‘sharing circle’ by friends, and each year have honed the questions I’ve asked. This year I was asked by a participant to pass on the questions so they could share them with their rather extensive social media followers. I think the most benefit will be gained by sharing the questions and responses with others – ideally a group of 4-8 people.

There’s something about sharing and insight, or making a statement in front of others, as they bear witness. Also the act of speaking can instigate the process of self discovery as you bring subconscious thoughts and half-forgotten experiences to light.
Image: Jamie Street | UnsplashSimple-yet-powerful stuff
To start, find a quiet, private, space. I’m often camping during this time of the year – being in the bush is the perfect place, but maybe a garden or park will do. If you’re in a northern hemisphere winter a space with a fire might be nice.

You can start with a ‘drop in’ (this year we started with a round of gin and tonics, and a short listening meditation). You may wish to acknowledge the land you’re on, or missing friends. Agree not to share beyond the group; it’s a powerful time and some pretty personal stuff can come up.

Finish with something to close off the process. A group hug; a group breath; a round of drinks and a toast.

Once you’ve finished, you might like to take some personal notes. Or perhaps take a recording – as long as everybody agrees and is entirely comfortable. Being able to speak freely without fear of being quoted, or receiving criticism, is absolutely vital.
Q1. What is something from the past year that you are celebrating?
What was a notable success for you in 2022?

It’s pretty common in the projects and tasks we undertake during the year to spend energy identifying errors and omissions and, naturally, focusing on improvement. It’s how we’re going to progress. However this often comes with giving scant recognition to all the successes – both great and small. There’s not so much joy to be had always dwelling on the negative.

Now is the time to review your year and give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve had some successes – you deserve the credit!

You may consider many aspects of your life or just one or two: work, financial, health, relationships, creativity, family.
Q2. What is the biggest lesson you learnt?
What was an important moment of personal growth?

Life is full of lessons. Some we heed, some we don’t – and might then be doomed to repeat mistakes. Getting through difficult periods and the lessons they provide are the greatest precursor to personal growth.

What is something that you discovered that you’re going to be able to take forward into the next year?
Q3. What are you leaving behind in the past year?
In gardening, new growth is encouraged by pruning back the old. There are some old habits that no longer serve you, some assumptions that are no longer valid. Or even some junk that you no longer need and it’s cluttering your space, and your mind. Time to commit to moving on!
Q4. What are you choosing for the coming year?
There’s a bit of ‘science’ in the use of the word ‘choice’ here. We can’t always control outcomes, but we can control our choices. When you answer please use the form ‘I choose to…’ rather than less powerful statements such as ‘I want to / I wish to / I hope I can…’, etc.

You may consider setting a goal, but if you do, remember that for a goal to be met, criteria need to be established that define the successful outcome.
Create your year ahead
Of course you can come up with your own questions; just remember to take into account the benefit of recognising and celebrating the past year before setting intentions for the next.

It’s the start of the year – you can allow yourself to be creative. Think big!

Happy New Year!
About the author:
David Durance is a designer, a singer and composer, and the owner and editor of LivingNow. He lives with his partner in Melbourne, and has diverse musical interests, ranging from Bach to Opiuo (EDM), and echoes this with diverse life interests – camping, singing, furniture design, star-gazing, writing political commentary, coming up with creative solutions to problems, and going to experiential workshops to name but a few. He believes that life should be explored thoroughly, and that personal growth is the most important creative project.

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