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Dr. Amy Wood

Psychologist Amy Wood helps adults to articulate and accomplish their own unique versions of success through psychotherapy, coaching, training, speaking, and writing. A pragmatic optimist, she is known for her capacity to simplify complexity and see manageable solutions amid the overwhelm of modern life and work. Dr. Wood is the author of the award-winning book Life Your Way: Refresh Your Approach to Success and Breathe Easier in a Fast-paced World and member of the National Speakers Association. She earned her doctorate from the Adler School of Professional Psychology, graduated from the College of Executive Coaching, and is a certified mediator. Visit her website at Connect with her on LinkedIn and find her on Facebook

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Living Smart with Dr. Amy Wood
Posted: December 31, 2014

An end-of-year ritual to help you process the past, prepare for the new year

What I love about the week after Christmas is that the holiday frenzy fades out and there’s space to regroup before the next year begins. This time between, like intermission at the theater, is an opportunity to ponder what has transpired and pave the way for what lies ahead.

So that you can enter the New Year having truly integrated these past 12 months, with an open outlook toward what’s next, I recommend my own end-of-year ritual for smoothing the segue:

1.  Situate yourself where you can unwind and relax for an hour or so with no distractions. Light a candle and sit in a comfortable spot with paper and pen.

2.  Close your eyes and contemplate what you want to leave behind when you shut the door of 2014 and enter a whole new room. Regrets, resentments, disappointments, sadness, goals you’re no longer passionate about, bad habits, tired obligations, beliefs that no longer serve you, whatever is weighing on you. Now open your eyes and write down your list of what you don’t want to carry into your future. Read it over, crumple it up, and toss it ceremoniously into the nearest trash can.

3.  Close your eyes again and this time recall what went well this year. What you accomplished, resolved, overcame, learned; what you want to remember. Now open your eyes and record your personal highlights of 2014. Slowly read aloud what you’ve written, then fold up your list and tuck it away as a keepsake.

4.  Close your eyes once more and picture your dream 2015. What do you hope to do more of? What do you intend to do differently? Where will you go? Whose company will you keep? How will you feel at the end of 2015 if your wishes come true? Write down all the details of your ideal year, and keep this list handy so you can add to it later.

5.  Now – and this is important – sit a while and simply let your thoughts linger. Do not make a list of New Year’s resolutions, do not psych yourself into achievement mode, do not think strategy. Just focus on the really cool fact that you have successfully made it through another year and will soon be rewarded with a fresh chance at discovery, growth and adventure.

The idea here is to celebrate where you’ve been and where you’re going by pausing to reflect, assess, and envision. Putting what you don’t and do want next year on paper won’t magically transform your life, but clearing your head will put you in the frame of mind to entertain real possibility.

I’ll be back next week to help you narrow down what you most desire in 2015 and make it happen. Let your ideas percolate until then, and I hope you’ll ring in the New Year in whatever way most resonates.

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