Every January 1st, I find myself staring at a blank page in a new journal, with a fresh ballpoint pen in hand. “This will help me create an even better year,” I think to myself. In a way it does. Something tells me, though, that it has nothing to do with my choice of flowery stationery.

New Year’s resolutions are tricky things. One survey in 2008 found that 35 percent of people had broken their resolution by the end of January. Before you start down that path, throw away the notion of making resolutions only when the New Year’s Eve party ends.

I love the energy and momentum that a new year brings, but fresh starts can happen throughout the year. Mondays, a new moon, and the first day of each season are all opportunities for growth and change. The best time, though, is when you are ready for change.

Whatever your goal, these three simple guidelines can help you discover the inspiration needed to embrace change this year.

Use Quiet to Find Your Inspiration

We all find inner quiet in different ways. For me, the easiest way is to sit still with my eyes closed until the space between my thoughts grows larger than the constant chatter of my mind. This is my meditation. Find what works for you, or try one of these:

  •  make a cup of tea
  •  enjoy a warm bath
  •  take a walk
  •  listen to inspiring music

If you want to try a seated meditation, sit comfortably and notice your breath. Focus on making your inhale and exhale the same length. Start small, maybe a minute in the beginning. You don’t need to play fancy music or have a silk meditation pillow. You only need the space and time to sit and be quiet. This is the first step to hearing your inner voice – the one that knows what you need to be happy this year.

Recognize Previous Positives

After you have found some stillness, reflect on the previous year. As tempting as it is to list what changes you want for the new year, it pays to first recognize what worked last year. Chances are you will be surprised with what you come up with.

There is no set time frame for this exercise, but see if you can come up with at least 20 items for your list. Use these questions to start you off:

  • What strengths became apparent in you this year?
  •  Did you help a friend?
  •  Did you take a vacation?
  •  Which people and what events shaped your year?
  • What lessons did you learn?

You can identify the struggles, as well, but try to focus on the positive events and the lessons that you’ve learned. Now is the time to nurture yourself, and to learn from what worked in the past. This will set the foundation for a brand new year!

Get Happy

Here is where I go against the grain of many “how to make your resolutions stick” articles. Most advise you to choose one specific goal, keep it simple, and stay focused. This works really well if your goal is to finish your taxes on time, write a term paper, or weed the garden.

To change your daily habits, though, you have to be a little more inventive and a lot more excited. To get started, list at least 20 activities that light up your soul. Use these ideas as a guide, or create your own:

  • Make a list of activities that create happiness in you.
  • Think back to when you were a child. What made you happy? When did time stop for you?
  • As a teen, what did you spend your time doing?
  • Before you had chosen a career, what did you want to be? What part of that future life made you happy?
  • As an adult, what are your biggest passions?

Review the list. Eliminate anything that sounds good, but makes someone else happy instead of you. Update the list as often as possible. Change it. Think on it. Leave it out where you can read it and make additions. If you are feeling stuck or in need of inspiration, return to step one.

Congratulations! You have just found out what makes you happy. This is the fuel for your resolutions throughout the year. In the next post, I’ll cover how to use that fuel to feed the fire of change in your life.


Shannon E. Crow, Tone Studio Program Director

Originally published on Sacred Awareness.