#9 Journalers' Corner: Writing to De-Pressurize New Years
All of the ways we measure time are arbitrary, but this is felt acutely around New Years.There are two tremendous pressures at this time of year; to be social and to set consensual goals.Both can be difficult if you are living single or alone.Your journal can help you de-emphasize the standard pressures behind the calendar’s change and find your own meaning in the new year.
Writing for yourself can help at any moment of transition to review and to look forward.The annual transition of the new year can be turned toward personal insight in your journal.The important point to remember is to review and not to judge.Look at all sides, like by writing “Best of…” and “Worst of…” lists.To purposefully and kind of literally avoid black and white thinking, pick a color and write a list of associations to that color from the last year.Write a bit about turning points in the year, moments that had more significance when you look back than you might have realized at the time.If you want to write about the year and you feel really stuck, pick a phrase that describes the year, and then write the phrase down the side of a page one letter at a time.Use those letters to trigger more phrases that describe the year and you might end up with an odd poem of 2010.
If you are a regular journaler, the new year is a great time for re-reading your own writing (look at Journalers’ Corner # 7 for ideas about re-reading journals).You might want to pick out pieces of your writing to put together into a New Year’s Collage.If you’re stuck for review material, it can also be interesting to look at your business or more technical calendar and remind yourself of how you documented your time during the year.What items show up repeatedly or dominate your more mundane concerns?What events broke up the regularity or your year?
The turning of the year is also a great time to set intent and to look forward and writing is an ideal medium for formalizing that process.However, steer clear of resolutions.New Year’s resolutions sound so legal and formal and being rigid with our wishes is always a hindrance.Intent is different than goals.Intent is more like pitching energy in a direction, not picking an endpoint.Sometimes it helps to write a New Year’s list of Non-Resolutions.Just treat yourself to a whole list of things you are clearly not going to do or try to do.Free yourself from others’ expectations or undue pressures inside yourself.I sincerely do not plan to lose weight this year.I have a lot going on and it is not the year I will empty my basement.I am clearly going to make less money than I did last year.That feels great.
But besides the release from the negative, there should be a way to look forward.Instead of writing about what you want to accomplish, it might help to write about what matters to you in the year ahead, where you want to invest energy and what you really look forward to.You can also kind of troubleshoot the year through your imagination.Picture yourself sitting right where you are, but a year later and just imagine things that might have happened that you can see pending.How might it go? If you can picture the scenario, you might become more conscious of ways it can work out better for yourself.And if you can’t picture it, just write about it working out really well and it might contribute to the likelihood of things moving in that direction.
It is probably awkward in any social situation to explain that you spent New Year’s Eve with your journal, but it really might not be a bad option for an arbitrary transition.If you have friends who journal, sometimes you can form a writing circle and read pieces of your work together if you choose.Whenever you do your writing, the stroke of will find you more settled in yourself and that always is the basis of moving through transitions with grace.