Here's an activity you can do anytime, but the New Year is the perfect time. It's a great activity for a fresh start, and I like it so much better than New Years Resolutions.
You'll write two letters. One is a "Goodbye, Old Self" letter. The other is a "Hello, New Self" letter. You don't have to do both, but I find it's better to do them both because it is a ritual that shuts one door and then opens another. It creates a sense of closure.
The Goodbye letter is a chance to reflect on your past and see things that you won't miss or you'd love to change. Maybe you were less patient with the kiddos than you'd like to be. Maybe you didn't take enough time for self care. Maybe you struggled with something/someone. Your Goodbye Letter is just that - a letter starting with "Dear Old Self" - and then saying goodbye to everything you want to. You can burn it if you'd like (rituals are important for humans), but you can also save it to look back on (which is what I recommend). It's not meant to be sent to anyone. It's for your own personal growth.
Your next letter is your Hello letter. It starts with "Hello, New Self" - and it continues to speak to the person you want to be for the next year. It's like introducing yourself to a new friend, because that's what you're doing. And you'll get to know this new friend better as time goes on. It's like a compass, not a map. A map tells you exactly what to do and how to get somewhere. A compass is a guideline. It gives you direction, but there are many paths to get there.
If you stumble, no problem. You simply write the two letters again, acknowledging that you stumbled and that you forgive yourself for it. You may not even need to write them again - unlike a resolution, you're not creating a set of rules to follow. You're growing into the new self you want to be, and that's a process. If you stray from your path, you just use the compass to adjust your sails and get back on track.
You can use pen and ink (my preference), but you could also use a Google Docs or another digital format.
Need help? Please reach out to me using my Contact Page.
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L. Shay Bradham is a Family History Preservationist and a published author.