This post is written around the New Year, but the ‘New Year’ can be any point in time we take to reflect on the larger picture, larger timescale.

The New Year, more than any other time is a chance to feel optimistic about what may be ahead; to relish the unknown, to anticipate and welcome change. For me, it’s not a time to list goals, but a time to reflect on where I am in my life.

Some years nothing seems to change much, as whatever it is we are in is still unfolding. We may feel like we are still where we were last year, but we won’t be. Change can be very gradual and it can feel hard work, or it can feel like we are not achieving very much or getting anywhere. A year is a short time, and if we are undertaking systemic change, making a transition or recovering or healing from a major life event or hurt, this can take many years.

For some, the year gone could have been a difficult year they are glad is over. For others it may have been be a significant or exciting year. At some point we will all have a significant year; it doesn’t really matter which one it is. If it wasn’t last year it may be the next. Some small steps we have already made may bring about great change in the year ahead, but we don’t it yet. A series of small realisations that we come to in the next year may lead to a major decision or shift we don’t know we will be making yet.

Change is a combination of the things we decide to act and make happen, things that happen to us and natural process. But there will always be change ahead as we are always living in and through a process of change. How we respond to and experience change is our choice. The extent to which we create and grasp opportunities to make positive changes is our choice.

This past year I’ve made changes that I didn’t expect to at this time last year. Some of those subtle changes came incrementally from small steps I’d already made, others are lifestyle changes from making big decisions and commitments. Some things I’d have liked to change in my life still haven’t. Some things didn’t work for the best and some had a greater positive affect on me, and taught me more than I expected. I’ve let go, accepted, discovered, embraced and remained non-committal towards various elements of myself and my life. But I’ve chosen those responses. And I’ve developed and changed myself as a person through self-awareness and self-responsibility. As we say in coaching, I’ve changed my story.

New Year resolutions often tend towards something negative people want to alter about themselves or their habits, which can create a should and shouldn’t mind set. Some of our habits may not be serving us any longer, but what is it that we do get from them? How can we get this another way? To me, the year ahead is an aspiration; how we ideally want our life to be, rather than a list of goals we should obtain to ‘better’ ourself. If we set ourselves too many unrealistic goals which our heart isn’t truly in (although our head thinks they would be good to obtain), it can be difficult to sustain motivation and so we feel we have failed if we don’t meet them. Do you know what you really want to work towards for your life? Do you know how you want to be, rather than what you want to do?

It’s easier to be motivated by something we want to gain, rather than something we want to lose. We can effect meaningful change if we are really inspired by it and it’s achievable. Work out when you feel most alive and make your new year about opportunities for feeling more of that. Put your energy into the things you really care about. Know what you really care about. And most importantly, accept yourself. That’s a great place to start. Establish what you’ve achieved, survived, created and learnt over the last year. It will be more than you think. Build on that. What an adventure next year could be!