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New Year – New Me!

Welcome to 2022! Did you make a wish on New Year’s Eve or a list of resolutions? Millions of people worldwide get excited to celebrate the New Year’s because they are ready for a reset in their lives or new adventures, and a new year seems like a perfect time for it. While the spirit of magic and a chance to start fresh stay persistent across cultures, there are a variety of traditions of how people approach this holiday. And if you didn’t make a wish on a new year’s eve and have already started sliding on your new year’s resolutions, don’t worry, I have something for you! But first, let’s talk about some fascinating traditions!

Back home in Russia, New Year’s celebration is a big deal. We Russians often say the way you meet the new year is how you will spend that year. Therefore, we love to get together with our family and friends, have lots of fun, eat great food, dance, open presents, and stay up the whole night! The most anticipated thing of the night is making a new year’s wish. The most popular way is to write it on a piece of paper and burn it. Then you need to put the ashes into your glass of champagne and drink it! And, of course, you need to manage to do all of that in one minute. Moreover, if a piece of paper didn’t thoroughly burn, you still need to drink/eat it if you want your wish to come true, so you are better off having a small piece of paper. Thus, when the clock shows 11:59 is when the craziness begins, as everyone is trying to make sure they do it right.

If you don’t find this Russian tradition very appealing, and I don’t blame you! How about a Spanish tradition? My friend from Spain once told me that they also have a special way of making a wish on New Year’s eve. In Spain, when the countdown starts (they usually start with 12), you need to eat one grape for each count and make a wish. It is definitely a  fun tradition, but I have to warn you it is not as easy as it seems! Just think about it; you need to eat 12 grapes in 12 seconds! 

In that same conversation, my Greek friend shared with us a tradition they have in their country. She told me that in Greece, on January first, they eat a special homemade cake. What makes this cake special is a secret ingredient – a silver or gold coin. When the family cuts the cake, everyone gets one piece, and whoever gets a piece with the coin in it is expected to be extra lucky that year. While this tradition is not about making a wish, it is still about entering the New Year with a positive mindset and expectations of extra luck.

As some people find it exciting and possibly magical to make a wish following a particular tradition or hoping to eat a special piece of cake, others prefer to start their year more pragmatically by making a list of new year resolutions. In some way, this approach can also be seen as a common tradition among people from different cultures and of different ages. Some people create an extensive list of resolutions they want to follow in the new year, while others choose 2-3 specific things they want to focus on. But, unfortunately, many of us fall short of living up to the newly established promises.

Recently, I discussed with my boss, a recognized business coach, why we often forget to follow these resolutions only a couple of months after we made them. He told me that one of the most common reasons is that people try to change too many things at once and quickly lose their focus. However, if you want to achieve new things or make some changes to your life in the new year, there is a strategy that works!

The idea is to give a name to the year instead of making many resolutions. The name should summarize some of the goals or improvements you want to make this year. For example, I decided to name my year “a year of mental health,” as I want to make more time to do activities that help me distress and reduce the number of negative thoughts that go through my head. My friend named hers “a year of healthy eating” because she wants to get into a habit of prepping healthy meals and eating less processed foods. 

You can have one name for your work goals, another name for your school goals, and a third for personal. I would not suggest having more than 3, so you avoid falling short, just like we often do with the resolutions. You should also write the name of your year on a piece of paper and stick it somewhere where you can see it every day, so it serves you as a reminder. Now it’s your turn! How do you name your year?

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