Your gain: Discover ways to approach a new year clear-headed, strong, and with confidence after going through a loss. The goal and gain is to feel as motivated and excited yet realistic about the upcoming year as possible.
So a new year is approaching, but maybe you’re not feeling very “festive” or excited to journey into a new year after your loss. That’s totally normal.
If your loss happened close to the end of a new year, I understand what you’re feeling right now. My mom passed on December 9, 2019, and needless to say I was far from feeling joyful around the holidays. Going into a new year, something that’s supposed to be exciting and a good refresh felt anything but that.
Coming Up On The Holidays
I’ll be real with you guys, I just passed three years without my mom and coming up on two Thanksgiving/Christmas’ without my dad. It’s not “easier”. In fact, on the actual holiday, it can still feel very isolating even when I’m surrounded by family, friends, and love. It’s just a different kind of love than my parents could give. It’s not worse, it’s just different. Truthfully, I could have a perfectly lovely day but I still feel a little less complete.
That space is filled with a sense of joy, but it’s a different space that’s filled. The void I have in my heart for them is still very empty. It’ll never be one that could be filled by anyone but them. You learn to get used to it, I suppose, but needless to say it’s a very conflicting feeling. The takeaway? You can still feel grief and joy at the same time.
A new year is such a beautiful time to transition to a blank slate. To allow yourself to process what has happened in the current year (and even past years), and have a chat with yourself.
Then again, I feel like even a new week or even a new day can be seen this way too.
Give Yourself Grace
So, do me a favor. Even if you have the best of intentions, all of the motivation and hope going into a new year but perhaps “fall of the wagon” with your goals, so to speak… give yourself grace.
Give yourself room to transition into this new territory in a way that challenges yourself (because if there’s no challenge, there’s no change, right?!) but recognize you’re HUMAN. You’re going to have days that just ain’t it. Ones that are going to beat you down a little. Days where you’re like, “you know what, today wasn’t my best day, but I showed up and got through it the best I could.”
But if you can confidently sit in whatever seat you’re in and be able to say, “hey, self, I’m really trying here.” and are actually trying, then give yourself time to do that and enjoy the f*cking ride.
The Weight Analogy
Think of enduring grief like lifting weights and working your way up from 5lb to 8lb to 10lb weights and beyond—because why limit yourself there? Each day you show up, you put the work in, and each day you get incrementally stronger. You’ll build up that muscle—think about the muscles as your emotional tolerance to your grief. With each passing day, you feel more empowered and grow to know you can handle so much more than you think you can. That’s a pretty amazing feat, no? But it takes time, that’s the key.
Want to save this graphic and use it for some inspo? I’ve got you! Here it is below:
So, without babbling on for any longer, let’s get into the 4 ways to feel strong and prepared going into a new year.
#1: Check-In With Yourself
What happened this year that you’re proud of? That you’re disappointed by? What brought you joy? What brought you sadness? How are you really feeling today, and overall?
How To Check-In
I challenge you to sit with yourself and do this exercise. When you do, you’re welcome to keep it within the confines of your mind but I do highly encourage you to write it down. This doesn’t need to be a novel, just a few sentences about where you’ve been, where you’re going, and how you’re really feeling. Be sure to ask those deep questions and be really honest with yourself.
Go beyond “work made me stressed this year”. What about it made you stressed that you want to move on or away from in the new year? Is it an entirely new direction with your career? Be more proactive about your wants and needs in your current role? Aim for a promotion? Most importantly, how will you make changes to get to where you want to be?
Go beyond “I’m sad my sister passed away”. What do you miss about her? What is it that you’re needing to cope with before moving into a new year? In order to cope or continue moving forward in your life here on earth, what practices are you going to put into action to, day by day, release the burden you’re feeling from her passing?
These can apply to any situation you’re in, but you get the gist. Really dig deep, be curious, and ask the tough questions. I want to clarify one thing, though. This doesn’t have to be a “tough” exercise or a lesson in “tough” love. Don’t make this into homework you don’t want to do. Been there, done that, right?
Think of this as mentally clearing the way for your highest, most empowered self. Yes, the void of who or what you lost might linger, but it won’t define you going into this new year.
#2: Consider New Habits
I don’t want to bore you with the typical “write down your goals” here. Don’t get me wrong, I do actually think you should do that… in a sense. I’m not huge on resolutions per se, mostly because I feel like really any day is a great day to start a resolution. You don’t need a new year for that! But I do think setting intentions or objectives to work on/work toward in the coming year is super important.
It’s motivating, and more importantly for those of us grieving, I feel like it provides hope and optimism. Who doesn’t need that more than someone who’s enduring a loss?
You’ll also feel more organized and in control coming out of a time where you perhaps didn’t feel those things. Even if you’re not someone who has to have complete and utter “control” in their life, when going through a loss, so much of that can feel chaotic and, you guessed it, out of your control. It’s nice to have a little of that back and be able to take ownership of it.
Feeling the Need for Control
I certainly went through this during the thick of my grief, and still do occasionally. Funny story, when the loss of my parents was at some of its most intense, I found myself watching episodes of The Office or Hart of Dixie or some other comical, relatively uplifting show on repeat. It could be the same episodes, I would know exactly what happens, but it brought so much comfort.
Why? Because that’s just it! I was coming out of a long period—at least a year—where my parents’ health were both completely out of our control. Where their illnesses took the wheel and wouldn’t give it up. The wheel was swerving constantly. Not knowing what the next day would bring for that amount of time is trying, exhausting, and unnerving.
I needed happy, I needed consistency, and I needed some semblance of control. This whole ‘watching the same show on repeat’ is totally a thing, by the way. I know I’m not the only one who does this, and it’s actually something my therapist at the time and I spoke about. So, if you catch yourself doing this, welcome to the club! I can’t say I wish admittance into this club on anyone, but hey… these are cards we were dealt, yeah? These are coping mechanisms.
Forming Habits & Taking Action
Studies show it takes about 21 days to form a habit. That’s less than a month, y’all! Who can’t put something into practice for three weeks if they really have your heart set on it? Just give it a try.
Examples of Actionable Habits
Not proud of your diet coming out of some circumstances from your loss? Look into foods that bring you comfort, sustenance, and nutrition. There are so many delicious ones out there, I promise you. And have fun with it! For example, make it a weekly goal to find and plan a meal for yourself or your family. Not to add onto your already full plate (no pun intended), think of it as a healthy distraction that will ultimately lead to healthy choices, too.
I did this at the beginning of 2022. I absolutely love Mediterranean food and appreciate the nutritional value it provides, so I told myself I was going to find a fun new recipe and make it for my husband and I just once per week to start. Some weeks I nailed it, some weeks I didn’t get to it. But you know what? That was okay. It was still something I looked forward to and it made prioritizing my health something to enjoy.
Feel like you need physical activity? There are SO many awesome kinds of workouts out there. Try a few out and see what resonates with you. Don’t make it about losing weight, if that’s the goal. Don’t even do that to yourself right now. Make it about your mental health. Make it about getting fresh air and endorphins pumpin’, and take baby steps. If you need those days to cry on the couch, take them. Don’t guilt yourself, simply challenge yourself to try it again the next day.
These are just examples, but you get it.
Goals are great, but taking action speaks volumes. Actually putting them into practice is “where the woo meets the work”, as my girl Jenna Kutcher likes to say. It’s not easy, but if it’s a longer lasting result, it’s worth the effort, right?
#3: Create a “Vibe” Board for the New Year
I know, I know… vision boards might be a little woo-hoo for some people. We used to do these as a team at a large retailer I used to work for, and this was when I was first introduced to the concept in a more meaningful way. But I must say, they were a great team bonding activity and were very eye opening.
When I do a vision board, I make it into more of a vision and moodboard combo. If you know me well, you might hear me say “it’s a vibe” (I know I’m not the only one who says this by the way, but you get it). I want this board to be your vibe. I want you to use it for manifestation instead of a “vision”.
It’s great to have a vision, but how are you going to make it come to life?
Make Your Board On Your Terms
I want for you to do this on your terms. What I mean by that is focus on what’s meaningful and impactful for you. Put things on there that are not only things you want to manifest for yourself, but are things that spark joy. Don’t design your board by anyone else’s standards or template, create your own masterpiece that’s a reflection of your heart and soul.
If it’s your love life you want to focus on, bring more of that and less “work stuff” in. If it’s a dream job you’re trying to manifest, bring that motivational imagery to the table and make. it. happen. Travel? Throw those cities on there, baby.
The goal is to put these vibes out into the universe and manifest. Yep, another woo-hoo comment for ya! That’s how I roll. I believe in this though, guys. It’s important to put what you want for yourself in this life out there. Speak it and you shall receive.
If you’re more of the vision board type of person and like that direction better with more specific, technical goals, go for it—I love that for you.
Just for fun, I threw one of mine in here for you to take a gander at which I put together earlier this year. It encompasses Losses Become Gains, things I love, places I adore, lifestyle highlights, things that bring me peace, things that motivate me… all the things.
Don’t Get Hung Up On Timing
The last thing that’s REALLY important here… don’t be phased if it doesn’t manifest in the coming year. The universe has its way of working ~ish~ out for you when it’s supposed to. I’m not going to go so far as to say “everything happens for a reason” because that feels like a crock of sh*t when you’re coping with a devastating loss, but the stars need to do their work to align, and that can take a hot sec… you feel me?
#4: Begin A Journal
If you’ve read any of my entries here so far, I probably talk about the 5-Minute Journal by Intelligent Change no less than 10+ times, and for good reason. Journaling can feel overwhelming, especially if you feel obligated to do it (that’s how I find it, at least). If journaling is something that resonates with you, though, more power to ya!
Point being, as a way to continue checking in with yourself on a daily basis going into this new year, journaling is a really eye opening and consistent way to do that. It’s a good habit to begin… see what I did there? 🙂
Whether this is something quick like this journal I just mentioned, one where you can free write, whatever resonates. Work it into your schedule so it feels like second nature.
My Journaling Schedule
As an example of how to work this into your schedule, since I use the 5-Minute Journal, I write once in the morning and once at night—5 minutes total.
In the morning, I first do a workout (usually around 40 minutes) using the ToneItUp! App, then once I’m done I immediately do the morning portion. It instructs you to write three things you’re grateful for, three things that would make the day great, and your mantra for the day.
At night, once I wash my face and do my nighttime routine and before I get too comfortable, I do the evening portion. This includes three highlights of the day and one thing you’ve learned.
Your schedule doesn’t need to look anything like mine and your journaling could look completely different, but one way or another it’s highly beneficial to write down your thoughts and have a set time to do so.
Why Journaling Is Important
A final, very important reason I recommend this is for better sleep. Have you ever been kept up at night with thoughts that would NOT stop? Thoughts or even hauntings of your loved ones? Reliving memories over and over? Unsettling feelings from being in their space or around their things?
Yep, been there. Writing it out—heck, even in your Notes app on your phone—will truly help alleviate some of this from your undoubtedly very active mind. Grief can really take hold if you let it and can fester to become very unsettling in many aspects of life.
Take control of your year, take control of your life, take it moment by moment, and own it.
Most importantly, have a BEAUTIFUL new year! ❤️
If you’re looking for additional tool and guidance as you journey into the new year, go check out the rest of the LBG Journal! There are SO many resources there waiting for you, and I’ll be adding so many more this coming year… I seriously can’t wait.