With the New Year fast approaching, many are dutifully setting goals and planning the coming year, including me. Sometimes in an effort to move forward we forget to resolve the past. As we lurch forward into the new year, we may have a foot stuck in some quicksand from the past. How can we step into 2017 on solid ground, free to leave 2016 in the past?
Start with what’s “left over” from 2016. There may be tasks or projects on a “to do” list that need to be completed before the ball drops on 2016. Identify what you want to complete and decide to do, dump, delegate or discern before the year is out. “Discern” refers to considering in prayer and choosing wisely based on direction from God.
As you discern, maybe there are items on your list that need to be intentionally carried into 2017. If that is the wise choice, then bring those tasks and projects intentionally and confidently into the New Year. Otherwise, deal with each by doing, dumping or delegating before the end of the year.
After dealing with your tasks and projects, resolve 2016 in light of forgiveness, gratefulness, grief and celebration.
Forgiveness. Who do you need to forgive? From whom do you need forgiveness? What will that involve? Is a direct conversation needed? If so, how will you make that happen? When will you make that happen? Remember that you cannot control anyone else’s response; you can only control your acts of or requests for forgiveness. But you can choose to do your part to resolve issues of forgiveness, with the hope of freedom from unresolved pain for yourself or someone else as the New Year begins.
Gratefulness. Who do you want to thank? Surely 2016 has included folks that merit your thanks. Who has blessed you over the past 12 months? If the task of identifying people to thank seems too big (because let’s face it there are many people to be grateful for in a year), look at the biggest challenges and highlights of the year and chose three to five people who were instrumental in helping you at those times. How will you thank them? You may want to be elaborate in your expression of gratitude and if so, go for it! But a simple “thank you” can work well, too. You can go simple, especially if the alternative is none at all.
Grief. What must you grieve? Avoiding the full experience of mourning a loss is not helpful to moving forward. If your loss is tragic and requires the support of a counselor, then by all means make 2017 a year of healing and don’t let 2016 end without identifying and scheduling with a counselor who can help you. But even the common losses, disappointments and setbacks can unnecessarily continue to drag on into 2017 if you let them. Identify losses you need to grieve and consider what it would take to go through the grief and put it behind you. You may need to allow yourself to feel your emotions. When you’re ready, you may benefit by doing something that symbolizes your intent to finish your grief and move on. For me, grieving always involves me being honest with God about my thoughts and feelings and then listening for His response and ultimate peaceful resolution. What do you need to grieve and let go of? And how will you do that?
Celebration. What can you celebrate? What from 2016 is worthy of celebration? You achieved. You grew. You were blessed. As the clock gets close to midnight on December 31 there will be great anticipation of celebrating the New Year and all that the future holds. But don’t forget to identify what you can celebrate from this year past. How will you celebrate?
I pray for you a blessed resolution to this year – one that fuels your steps into the new year with renewed strength and peace!
This article is revised and edited from a previous December 2013 Christian Coaching Resources post.