No matter how many times you hear someone say that New Year’s Eve is a totally arbitrary holiday, or that the concept of January as a “fresh start” is bogus, the end of the year can still feel, somehow, very significant. And there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that; structure and routines can add meaning to our lives, and for some people, the turning of the calendar might feel comforting.
But the start of a new year doesn’t bring glass-clinking feelings for everyone, and reflecting on the past 12 months might not be so enjoyable if you’ve had “A Year.” As much as some of us might like to, we can’t always leave all the bad things behind once the clock strikes midnight on December 31. And not to be an even bigger party pooper, but making a New Year’s resolution can feel more like an overly critical mandate than a hopeful goal if you’re already feeling low.
All of this is to say: For a lot of people, the end of year doesn’t bring glowy, reminiscent feelings, and may even stir up anxiety and dread. If that’s where you’re at, take heart: There are a few strategies that can help you reframe the New Year, or, at the very least, make it easier to ignore.
- Say farewell to 2022 in whatever way feels good.
Even if the bad things that happened in your life in 2022 will continue to affect you in 2023, you can still say goodbye to elements of them today, the 1st of January. For example, you might make a list of crummy things you had to endure in the past year that you will likely not have to repeat in the new one.
This may feel like a small consolation, but a bunch of tiny bad things you don’t have to do again in the near future can add up to something substantial. If that approach doesn’t feel like the right fit for you, you could try making a list of all of the nice things that happened to you last year because even if it was, overall, “A Year”, there might have been more small wins and nice moments than you remember.
- Set theme-oriented New Year’s goals, rather than concrete ones.
You could decide on some things you’d like to accomplish in 2023, like a promotion at work, losing weight, finding love or whatever, and that would be totally fine—it’s nice to have goals. Or you could have a better time and incorporate some theme-oriented goals, like, “have as much fun as possible!” and “laugh a lot!” Oh, those goals don’t sound specific and measurable to you? That’s the point! By opting for vague goals that create more space for pleasure and joy in the New Year, you avoid setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. Not everything has to be about self-improvement all the time. You could pick a theme for the year that you want to focus on, and avoid beating yourself up for the things you didn’t get to. In other words, you can avoid the temptation to think of ways to improve yourself in the New Year and instead use this time to come up with ways to make your life more enjoyable.
And, of course, you could simply ditch a goals list altogether. While setting resolutions may be helpful and fun for some, they don’t have to be for you.
- Celebrate what you’ve already achieved—even if it’s left unfinished.
Even if 2022 was a rough one, you almost certainly achieved something worth celebrating. Rather than focusing on the deadlines you didn’t make or the projects you didn’t finish, consider taking stock of what you have gotten done, or using the New Year to evaluate whether you want to continue what you’ve started.
I had this tradition of going through all of my in-progress pieces on New Year’s Day, just to see where I was and where I wanted to go. This can be an uplifting practice because it allows you to appreciate where you are on certain projects, and alleviates the pressure to finish everything before the New Year starts.
It’s natural to think of the ways you failed ourselves in 2022, but intentionally thinking about all the small victories can help you realize that there’s more to celebrate than you initially thought.
- Remember that there’s another holiday season coming in a year.
Let’s say that nothing about 2022 feels celebratory and nothing positive comes up for you when you envision 2023. That’s perfectly OK, too. January 1 comes around every year like clockwork. In other words, this isn’t your only chance to celebrate.
So maybe you benched yourself this New Year’s Eve. It wasn’t the year for you to watch fireworks and pop champagne or stay up until midnight. You simply were not in a place where you could put your struggles on pause for a few hours in the name of “fun.” The good news is that you get a redo in 365-ish days—and there’s real value in accepting that versus pressuring yourself to pull off a buzzer-beater, Hail Mary sort of comeback.
The idea that you can resolve everything and go into the New Year totally stress-free is a little silly. You’re going to get another holiday season next year; this one doesn’t have to be the best ever. In fact, doesn’t it often work out that trying to make something the “Best Ever” results in a huge letdown? Also remember that just because it seemed like everyone around you was having a great time doesn’t mean they were. They may have even been wishing for what you had: The good sense to take the night off, and not worry about New Year’s until the next one rolls around.
You decided that the best way to ring in a new year was letting yourself rest. You went to bed at 10 pm, skipped the post-midnight rideshare surge pricing, and gave yourself what you needed most: a break.
Time is ultimately a social construct anyway, so there are no rules when it comes to celebrating it. Perhaps you’ll feel better about the state of things in mid-March, and who’s to stop you from toasting the stroke of midnight a few months from now? The New Year can start whenever you want it to, and that doesn’t have to be in the coming weeks.
Whatever your state of mind, know that you’re not on this journey alone.
We want to wish you a very Happy New Year and do all we can to help you cruise the Menowave in 2023 while in menopause with grace, gratitude, confidence and ease.
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