National Eating Disorders Association

Looking Forward: Conjuring Up the Path of the New Year

Carolyn Jennings

The days come and go like muffled and veiled figures

sent from a distant party—but they say nothing

and if we do not use the gifts they bring

they carry them as silently away.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

Emerson's words touch me with their wisdom and beauty—and make me wonder how I can best use the gifts of the days of the New Year.  Some people like to set goals at this time of year.  I prefer broader, gentler strokes.

At the dawn of 2015, I wrote to look ahead and welcome the “muffled and veiled figures” of the days to come.  I first remembered and reclaimed with a short exploration of what is important in my life.  Then I wrote a longer meander about the year to come.

What is Important to You About Your Life?

I experimented with the brief exploration after learning about amazing work out of Stanford University, in which researchers asked school students who were lagging behind their peers to write briefly about what is important to them and why it matters.  According to a Scientific American article*, the “exercise acts like a mental vaccine that boost students' self-confidence...”.  The students who participated went on to close a 40% academic gap between them and their peers in the next term.  I was inspired to give myself a mental vaccine to boost me through the new year!

Very simply, take a few deep breaths and write about what is important to you in 2015 and why it matters.  I wrote for 5 minutes.  You may want to write up to 15.

After you've written, read your words, seeing what thoughts and feelings arise.  Then jot a few sentences beginning with, “Reading, I notice...”.

This write serves as the on-ramp for the next write.  You might also want to tuck it in your journal or keep it somewhere else handy where you'll see it regularly during the year, a reminder in busy or stressful or emotional days of what really does matter to you, a lighthouse to guide you in the dark.

What if You Could Receive Directions for the Year to Come?

Recognize that you don't know where you stand, and you will begin to watch where you put your feet.  That's when the path appears.

~ Aldous Huxley ~

I gave myself directions for the year to come by writing them!  First I imagined the coming year:

  • the months and seasons ahead
  • possible accomplishments, triumphs
  • likely challenges, potholes
  • people—who will be here, who might be leaving, who might be joining my life
  • work and play, spirituality and health, finances and home, hobbies and passions, self care and 
  • creativity--and balance among them
  • anything that needs tending to
  • projects to be completed
  • fun times and deepest pleasures and renewing myself
  • incorporating and prioritizing what's important, based on the write I just did 

Next I wrote a letter to myself from the woman I'll be at year end.  She told me about what will come in 2015.  She gave me a view of the big picture I'd have otherwise missed and made so much seem possible.

You can write this letter to yourself, either from the year 2015 or from yourself at December 31, 2015.  Writing a letter to yourself from the year can be a form of letting go.  Allow the year to tell you what it has in store for you.  Writing a letter from yourself at year end is a way to condition the subconscious in the direction you want to go.  In either letter, be open to receive, invite intuition and inner knowing, bring a playful spirit.

When your letter is done (and be sure to sign it with love!), read it over and then write a title for your year to come as if it were a movie or a book.

Then put your pen down and invite an image of the year to reveal itself to you—could be a visual image or color, a sound or music, a feeling or sensation—or maybe all of the above.  Simply open yourself to see what comes.

My Year of Treasure, Love and Possibility showed itself as a treasure chest—like something right out of a pirates' movie!  But my 2015 is not all glittering gold and jewels, the work done and happily ever after.  This chest contains treasures and everything else.  There are scorpions and spiders, dark corners and sharp edges.  I “translate” this to mean that my year will contain treasures I have sought but not without care needed and challenges to meet.

Remembering from my first write how important it is to me to show up with integrity, authenticity and love, I'm ready for 2015!


* “Armor Against Prejudice,” Ed Young, Scientific American, June 2013