Didn’t like 2016? Focus on ACTIONS in 2017.
I doubt an entire year has ever held such universal hatred as 2016. A stressful US election year. The numerous deaths of iconic musicians and actors. Terrorist attacks in Europe and haunting images from the Syrian war zone. There’s even an entire song about how much 2016 sucked. The countdown to 2017 can’t come fast enough for many people.
My mom once told me, “Sarah, you can’t fix everyone’s problems.” I think most people don’t want to carry the sadness of the world with them everywhere, everyday. And honestly, that doesn’t solve anything. Then you’re miserable AND nothing’s changed.
In 2017, I challenge you to focus on what you can DO to change YOUR life into what you want.
Review Your Life in 2016
Skip the sobbing over David Bowie (#RIPZiggy) and the lamenting of Trump’s victory. What did YOU do in 2016?
It’s easier to frame where your going if you look back on where you’ve been. Reflect on this past year’s reactions and actions. When were you happy? When were you sad or stressed or frustrated? What actions did you take to make positive changes in your life? Be honest with yourself!
Start with the Positive! Don’t skip this part or I will summon Ziggy Stardust to curse your 2017!
- Happy Moments. Think back to January, then February, then March, and onward. Give yourself permission to pause and remember the moments this year when you experienced joy, love, kindness, friendship, and other pieces of happiness. What’s the point of aiming for a happy life if we never recognize when it happens?
- Accomplishments. Whenever I achieve a goal, I often immediately shove it into the past and focus on my next goal. Let’s use the ending of this year to reflect on what we accomplished in 2016. And also think about WHY you were able to accomplish it.
- Positive People. Who celebrated with you? Who listened to your struggles? Who showed up when you needed help? One of my Pillars of Happiness is surrounding yourself with people who serve your happiness. They help fuel your happiness — they support you, they stay positive about your life, they make you feel good.
Ok, what didn’t work in 2016?
- Stress Factors. When were you most stressed? Especially on a regular basis — Is it driving to work? Is it trying to get all your errands done so you can hang out with your kids? Make a list of all the stress factors in your life, and start thinking about what is actually within your power to affect.
- Failures. I wish “failure” didn’t have such a bad rep. Even typing the word makes my insides cringe, as if Pavlov slapped me every time I messed up in my life. The important part of failure is to LEARN from it — What led up to the failure? What was out of your control? What was within your control that you would do differently now? How can your failure fuel your 2017 goals? Turn your 2016 reactions into 2017 actions!
- Negative People. You know who they are. People that make you unhappy have no place in your life. Everyone has bad days, but people that bring you no joy, no support, no friendship — They don’t deserve your time and energy! You know who does deserve that energy? See “Positive People.”
Next Year: More of this, Less of That
- Create happy moments. Whatever made you happy in 2016 will probably make you happy in 2017. Let’s say you had a happy moment at an outdoor concert last summer. Make a goal to go see more live music this year! Spend more time with the friends that were there with you! Blast that song on Spotify while you’re driving to work or cleaning your house! For me, a lot of my happy moments were camping with my husband as we moved from Austin to Seattle, embarking on a new journey together. Now, it’s likely we’re not going to move again in 2017. But we can spend time together. We can go camping. We can take long weekend road trips. I can go walk along the Seattle waterfront and remember waking up next to Lake Yellowstone. Use your 2016 memories to inspire your 2017 happy moments!
- Set specific goals. Envision your life in December 2017. Don’t think about what’s realistic or unrealistic – A year is a long time! You can accomplish a lot if you break it down into smaller, less scary steps. Technori suggests working backwards from your main goal, breaking it down into month-by-month goals, and then weekly goals. Try out the SMART goals guideline to create specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and trackable goals! Think about your accomplishments and failures in 2016. I bet your achievements had more specific goals associated with them. I know mine did. Specific goal-setting is something I’m personally working on, so look forward to more blogging on that topic!
- Make more time for positive people! It’s much easier to be happy around people that make you feel good. Spend more time with those people in 2017! Call them. It’ll have a huge impact on your own happiness!
Look at your list of negatives. You want less of that in 2017.
- Brainstorm ways to alleviate or minimize your Stress Factors (invite a friend or spouse to brainstorm with you!) Can you commute at a different time so there’s less traffic? Or start looking for another job that’s closer to where you live? Or an apartment that’s closer to where you work? Or maybe start listening to podcasts or audio books so you have something to get excited about when you drive! There are ALWAYS things you can change, even if it’s just your attitude! Experiment!
- Don’t dwell on Failure. Learn. Move on. It’s so easy to get trapped in the circle of Failure. I should have done this. I wish I’d done that. It’s great to reflect on the past (as evidenced by this post), but you can’t permit that reflection to turn into fear. Remember one of my Pillars of Happiness: “You don’t let fear control you.” Step back and look at WHY you failed. And what you can do to prevent that Failure in the future. Again, turn those Reactions into Actions in the new year (and beyond!).
“The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.” – Theodore Roosevelt
- Get rid of negative people. Seriously, do it. Don’t let them infect your 2017. I didn’t want to go to this cliché but here it is: Life is short. Spend it with people that make you feel good.
Hold on there! It’s still 2016!
This year isn’t over yet! Don’t forget that happiness is about choosing to be happy TODAY. And while I think chasing goals is an important pillar of happiness, it’s equally important to remember that happiness is a journey, not a destination. And you’re on that journey! So be happy right… now!
I’m working on my own 2017 goals, which I’ll share soon. If you’d like to share your goals with us, comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
See you in 2017!
Repeat After Me!
HAPPINESS IS THE JOURNEY, NOT THE DESTINATION.
I WILL OWN MY HAPPINESS IN 2017.
I WILL TAKE ACTION IN 2017.