What end of year traditions do you take part in? Deleting texts from your ex? Smooching a good-looking stranger on New Year’s Eve? Going to bed early so you can start the new year bright eyed and bushy tailed?
I love any excuse for a fresh start and/or making a list. Birthdays work. The mid-year point works. New jobs, new homes, new relationships work. I’ve only got two tried-and-true end of year traditions so I asked you guys on Facebook to share yours and you gave me tons of great ideas!
11 end of year traditions to try this year
Take stock of 2016 + ask yourself these 4 questions
Oh, I love nothing so much as a good bit of journalling and self-reflection. Let’s pour ourselves a big glass of something delicious and ask ourselves these four questions:
What worked really well?
What didn’t work?
What am I going to do about it?
What do I need to plan for in this area next year?
I ask myself these questions about every area of my life: professional, financial, social, marriage, family, health, beauty + style, domestic, travel. It may seem a bit laborious to examine so many aspects of your life, but I find this is a great way to notice + celebrate my successes and prevent myself from making the same mistakes year after year.
For what it’s worth, here are a few things that worked really well for me this year:
- Making smoothies for breakfast every day (I’m obsessed with my Nutribullet!)
- Getting serious about Pinterest
- Understanding why I make regrettable purchases
- Eating meals on the patio when the weather’s nice
- Having a ‘special show’ Kenny and I watch together (we’re watching Friday Night Lights right now and it is so good!)
- Making Sunday night chore night
- Switching to this eyeliner
- Taking a ‘just us’ vacation to a place neither of us has been and where we don’t know anyone
Related: after many recommendations, I downloaded Susannah Conway’s free (!!) 37-page end-of-year workbook Unravelling and it is lovely.
Declutter + Deep clean
GOD I LOVE GETTING RID OF THINGS. I also love cleaning out the fridge, eating up all the random stuff at the bottom of the freezer, and re-discovering the sweaters I put in storage last year.
Outer order leads to inner calm. The vast majority of us feel lighter, happier, and more productive when our living spaces are empty of meaningless clutter and filled with things we love.
And you don’t have to do it all at once! Set aside an hour or two on a Sunday afternoon, put on your favorite album, pour yourself a huge cup of coffee and power through it. You’ll be amazed by how much you can accomplish in two hours!
Pro tip: those bags you just filled with things bound for Goodwill? Bring them there today. Otherwise you’re going to drive around with them in your trunk for three months. Not that I’ve done that. Cough.
Sas’s Instagram is one of my favorite accounts.
Clean up your social media
Are you part of Facebook groups you never take part in? Do you follow people on social media who bum you out with their constant negativity? Are half of your Facebook ‘friends’ people you don’t even recognize?
In case you need it, here’s your official permission to unfollow and unfriend. Leave the Facebook group that’s constantly sending you updates you ignore and unfriend that person you met at professional conference seven years ago.
Did you post any photos or updates you kind of regret? Delete ‘em. Are you tagged in any photos you wouldn’t want your family or employer to see? Untag yourself.
If your social media feed has become an echo chamber of people who think exactly like you or Kardashian memes, take a few minutes to ‘train’ the Facebook or Instagram algorithm to show you more things that will challenge, inspire, or hold you accountable.
Who should you follow? Follow the Facebook page of your gym or a favorite writer (I love Anne Lamott and Shaun King). Follow Instagram acconts that are doing or making things you want to do or make. It sounds too-easy-to-be-true, but just seeing daily reminders of what you want in your life can have a huge affect on your choices and behavior.
Change your settings so their stuff will always show up in your feed by ‘following’ them on Facebook (in addition to ‘liking’ their page) or signing up for notifications on Instagram. If that seems like too much work, just ‘like’ or comment on a few posts and the algorithm with start showing you more of what you like and less of what you don’t.
Write down what you want to leave in the previous year and burn it
What heartaches do you want to leave in 2016? Which mistakes or missteps? What do you wish you could take back?
Write it all down, one idea on each slip of paper. Then build a fire in a fire pit (or put a candle in the kitchen sink) and slowly feed those ideas into the flame. If you’re near a lake/river/ocean, you could write these onto paper airplanes and fly them out over the water or ice!
Bury your hopes for the new year in a potted plant
Let’s continue the metaphor, guys. After you’ve burnt the worst of 2016, write down a few hopes for 2017. Do you want to change careers? Get into your first choice school? Start a family? Move across the country? Write it down and then tuck it among the roots of a potted plant. SO YOU CAN WATCH YOUR WISHES GROW AND THRIVE GET IT?
If you’re really ambitious, you’ll plant your wishes in a Hawaiian Ti plant (early Polynesians believed it had mystical powers) or a ‘Money Tree.’ Keep it somewhere you’ll see it everyday so you can be reminded of the wishes you made for yourself and your life.
Plan for your big 2017 expenditures
If cracking open your bank and credit cards statements doesn’t sound like fun, add a pizza and some wine and a decent soundtrack. We all feel a million times better when we’re prepared. Understanding how much money you’ll be spending in 2016 will make you feel so smart and on-top-of-it and awesome.
When you know where your money will be going, you can make sure you have enough saved so when your trip to Mexico rolls around, it’s already paid for.
Questions to ask yourself:
Will I be taking any trips?
Are there any home improvements I need/want to make?
Are there any big medical expenses coming up?
Do I anticipate making any big changes to my car?
Will my family structure be changing? (Are you trying to get pregnant? Moving in with a partner? Is your kid is going to college?)
Not quite sure what to do next? Ask yourself:
How much will this cost?
Call around for estimates, Google average prices, talk to friends who have done something similar. When in doubt, estimate that it will be more expensive. (Obviously.)
How much discretionary income do I usually have each month?
And knowing that, how long do I have to save to cover the cost of this? If you have about $500 of discretionary income each month, and your trip to Mexico is going to cost $1,500, estimate that you’ll need to save for four months to pay for it. Because it’s unlikely that you’ll save 100% of your discretionary income for three consecutive months.
Do I need/want to make any changes to accommodate this purchase?
Want to save up faster? You could rent out your spare room on Airbnb, cancel your gym membership, stay at a cheaper hotel on your trip, take extra shifts at work. You get the idea!
Related: How to save money without hating your life + 23 ways to treat yourself without buying anything
Connect with far-flung friends
It’s easy to feel like we know what our friends are up to because we see their Instagram stories and read the occasional Facebook update. But as we all know, social media does not reflect reality and few things can match face-to-face conversations.
Schedule a Skype date or Facetime with friends in other time zones. If you’re really, really not the phone type, send them a postcard or an actual handwritten letter. How retro!
Organize and backup photos + do something with them
Do you have one million photos on your phone? Yeah, me too. Let’s doing something about it.
Let’s delete all the bad ones and download the rest to a hard drive or Dropbox folder. Let’s edit the best ones and put them somewhere – in a Facebook album, a picture frame, or make a slideshow to share.
If you had a particularly fun or picturesque adventure with a friend, get a photo printed and send them a copy. So few people get photos printed these days – they’ll really appreciate it!
Write a “Dear Future Me” letter
Where will you be at the end of 2017? Finally quitting that job you hate? Living in a new place? Smooching someone new? Will you finally have your bangs figured out? Write a letter to your future self using Futureme.org. You can write an email to yourself and choose any date in the future to send it!
Re-read your diary. Or your gratitude journal. Or just your social media updates!
The days are long but the years are short. Life can blend together into a blur of meetings and Netflix and housework. It’s easy to forget that perfect dinner party or the afternoon you spent hiking with your mom.
Spend an afternoon re-reading your diary, your gratitude journal, or even just looking at your social media updates. This also serves as a great reminder that most of the things we get worked up about don’t matter.
It’s oddly freeing to re-read an irate tweet about a coworker who doesn’t work with you anymore or a grumpy Facebook update about a skirmish you’d completely forgotten.
Buy something that will help make 2017 amazing
1. Do not confuse Buying Something with Taking Action
Buying a gym membership is not the same as going to the gym. Buying a bunch of books about career change is not the same as changing careers. My friend Anthony calls this The False First Step and we should all watch out for it.
2. Don’t spend more than you can afford
If you can’t afford the $150 ski pass, don’t buy the $150 ski pass.
That said, most of us spend this time of year lavishing money, time, and energy on other people. Our entire budget goes to presents for other people and flights/gas to see said people. We’re left with $5 and seven minutes.
Make a (small, sensible) investment in yourself and in 2017. Maybe it’s a planner that will help you stay organized, better running shoes, or an appointment with a therapist. You know what you need and what your budget will allow. Gift yo’self!
How do you say “out with the old and in with the new”? Leave your ideas in the comments so we can try them ourselves!