Celebrating the end of the year and New Years’ is arbitrary. You could think of January 1st as just another day. But, you can also leverage this transition for self-reflection and a way to mark time. This is a symbolic opportunity and a real fact: You have just lived through a whole and precious year of your life. And 2017 was not an easy year for many people with its fires and storms and examples of intolerance and brutality.

There is some urgency. The sand is rapidly running out of the hourglass of this year. “How can you end the year on a good note?” is a question I ask myself and my clients. This is a continuation of our usual, day-to-day questions: What does it mean to be healthy and sustainable, and to live my values? What does thriving look like for me, for those close to me, my kids, my family, and for everyone in my community?

You might use this time to double down on your good habits and attempts to be your best self so you can end the year with a feeling of satisfaction and momentum.

There are also other questions you can ask yourself:

What did I learn this year? What were the big lessons for me?

What were the challenges that I overcame and how can I give myself positive feedback for that?

What do I want to leave behind in this year and not import into the bright and shiny new year?

Where am I in my life? How can I stop for a moment, place my feet firmly on the ground, and be mindful and decisive about my next steps?

What do I need to say, and to who?

What seeds do I need to plant right now that will bear fruit in the new year?

As the planet makes its yearly orbit around the sun and the seasons turn, so do we make our orbit and have our seasons. One part of having a life well-lived is the ability to recognize these transitions as opportunities for personal growth.

Have a great rest of the year and a healthy and positive new year!


— Dr. Thomas Doherty, Psy.D.

Published by Thomas Doherty

Psychologist Thomas Doherty's work on environmental sustainability and health has been featured in publications like the New York Times and in talks worldwide. Thomas consults with individuals and organizations through his business Sustainable Self. He was the founding Director of the Ecopsychology Certificate Program at Lewis & Clark Graduate School and Founding Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed academic journal Ecopsychology. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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