The new year is a time for celebration and new beginnings for some of us. But, for others, it might be a depressing reminder of the failures of the passing year. If you were looking forward to big changes in your life – maybe a relationship or a promotion at work – and you were not able to accomplish these, you may be feeling despair or panic as December rolls in. Truth is, the new year is a holiday that makes most of us press the brakes on life, even if for a few moments, to reflect on our lives. And this reflection may leave us feeling anywhere from bittersweet and nostalgic to depressed and overwhelmed.
If you are among those who are feeling particularly sad about the year ending because you have failed to accomplish your targets for the past year, here are a few ways to reframe your thoughts that may be helpful:
- “I may have failed to achieve one (or more) of my targets, but I have achieved these other things…”: You may not have met some of your goals for the year but, surely, there have been some things that worked out the way you wanted. These may be more minor or less meaningful aspects of your life but focusing on these will bring you more peace than ruminating on what never came to be. Remember that failure is a verb and not a noun. Whether you failed one, or two, or many times, you are not a failure by definition.
- “Things didn’t work out the way I wanted, but I always have next year.” While the ship may have sailed when it comes to some of your targets, you may still be able to work on others (or set new targets) in the new year. Turn your regret into motivation. Why do you think you didn’t get that promotion? Maybe you didn’t put enough work in so you can consider ways in which you can improve your performance. Or maybe this job just isn’t going to get you to where you want to get to so you should focus on new job opportunities during the new year.
- “There are some things I can control and some things that I can’t control.” Some of your failures may simply not be your fault! There are usually many factors at play when it comes to achieving a target. If you didn’t reach your goal weight, for example, maybe it wasn’t entirely your fault. Perhaps you are missing motivation from those around you and you need to talk to your partner or roommate about eating healthy with you and keeping the home junk food free. Instead of ruminating about your failures, think about them from new, more constructive perspectives!
At the end of the day, although a new year brings with it celebration and an opportunity to reflect for many, it may be a stressful time for some of us when we look back at the past year. If that is the case for you, it is important to remind yourself that New Year’s Eve is an arbitrary time point and not a real deadline. Time isn’t up once the clock strikes midnight! If you find yourself becoming too overwhelmed or depressed this winter, don’t face it alone. Speak to someone you trust, consult a therapist or reach out to a distress line.
To end, wishing you all a safe and happy new year!