Happy New Year!

I know this time of year is a loaded one. Lots of energy toward new beginnings, fresh starts, resolutions, cleansing, and getting back to neglected parts of life. There can be a lot of pressure to do better and to make resolutions to make up for the past failures. The new year gives you a sense that you can start again. And well, you can start again. Anytime.

But how can you do this in a way that acknowledges what you've done in the past without beating yourself up? And how can you set some intentions for the new year without feeling like a failure by February? I know it's already January 5th but for me, the new year energy can last this whole month. Maybe it's a rationalization for not getting going until this week, but really, what does it matter what day or time you begin?

So, rather than resolving to make your life or yourself better, what about setting an intention, with the knowledge that you can always shift as the year goes on and as things happen?

Here are some practices that I go through at the beginning of every year that help me feel more present and conscious with my choices. I do this so that the year doesn't just fly by again with no goals accomplished and more guilt to carry over for another year.

Make a vision board. For the past few years my kids and I have made variations on vision boards or intention boards that have been really fun to make and something that brings us together. We started out sharing a big board that we wrote our intentions on and then we progressed to individual boards.

I have to admit I've often struggled with the whole idea of a vision board. It sometimes seems hokey, I don't feel artistic enough, I can't find the right words or images in the magazines I choose. And if I've ever done it in a group, I get totally caught up in comparison mode. This year's versions are presently still sitting in our living room floor waiting for completion. But the energy is still percolating and having taken this step is starting my year in a positive way.

Celebrating the past year. I sat down with my journals from 2015 and read through them. My entries were not always unicorns and rainbows and I was reminded of some things I'd set out to do that never happened. But ultimately it was a relief to see the work I had accomplished—on myself, my business, my relationships. 2015 was a year of foundation laying. And acknowledging this helped me to see how far I've come.

Recognize the obstacles overcome. Life is not always easy. Curveballs are thrown and we get knocked off kilter. Looking back I see the many ways in which I persevered—despite some real challenges. I have suffered from a deep sense of unworthiness that has held me back in so many ways. This past year, as my focus was on establishing a solid foundation of self-love, I've expanded my work and my sense of myself.

Grieve. Letting go of what didn't happen, what disappoinments occurred, what patterns were still present. I honor those failures and assess what went on – without beating myself up – so I can then move on. One of the things I'm grieving is not writing as much. For the past few months I stopped blogging and I stopped writing newsletters. I found a blog post that I'd written in Septmenber that for whatever reason, never got posted. So, I put it up. I'm moving on.

Set intentions. This is not a tattoo, this is a statement of my desire and what I want to bring into my life in the new year. This year I chose a word that can be my constant reminder of my intention. My word for this year is expansion. Because last year was all about foundation building, now I have the solid ground from which to expand. And I see this coming into play in all aspects of my life: continued work on self-love, business growth, and deeper connections with loved ones are 3 primary areas I'm choosing to focus on.

If you haven't already done a new year ritual, here are some specific journaling questions to help with your 2015 reflection and 2016 intention setting. I recommend you set aside some time for yourself. Create a quiet space, light a candle, take some time to feel your breath and your body. You can even do this with a friend. Sharing this experience can help solidify your intention.

  1. What did you bring in to being in 2015? Some of you might have birthed an idea, a book, a new job or even a baby! What did you create this past year? Acknowledge that. So often we don't allow ourselves to truly celebrate our accomplishments before we're on to the next one. Take some time to make a list or free write in your journal about all of the things you have made happen. Think big or small, inner and outer.

  2. What challenges did you face? What were obstacles that stood in your way that you actually were able to get around. How did you handle these with grace? What practices did you put into place that helped you deal? Think about any small or large thing that you were able to get through and the specific actions you took to make it.

  3. What is there to let go of from 2015? What do you need to grieve about? What didn't go so well, and what can you learn from that? Honor the past so that you can move forward.

  4. What is your intention for 2016? What are you ready for more of? What's a word or a phrase that represents this intention for you and for your life? These words will help you manifest what you want to bring into your life.

I'd love to hear how this exercise goes for you. Post in the comments below or on the CoreBirthing Facebook page. I'll keep you posted on how my expansion is going. In the meantime, here are some pics of our past family boards.