zen habits : breathe

How to Make the Most of the Fresh Start of a New Year

“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” ~ Buddha

Post written by Leo Babauta.

We’re several days into the New Year, and many of us are still basking in the glow of a fresh start.

Every year, January brings renewed optimism for change, for a better life, for a better you. And that’s a wonderful thing.

It’s wonderful, because this fresh start gives us a chance to reinvent our lives and ourselves. It allows us to reinvigorate ourselves, to shed the baggage of the previous year and do anything. Anything is possible!

That is a gift, my friends, and I suggest we make the most of this gift. Not just by creating and sticking to resolutions (here’s my guide for doing that), but by reinventing the way we live.

Here’s how.

1. Let go.
Many times we are held back by the tangled web of previous failures, commitments, emotions, barriers. We cannot change careers because we’re used to what we’re doing and it’s too hard to change. We cannot find time to get healthy and fit because we have all these other things to do. We cannot find time for our loved ones because we have too many commitments.

This is all old baggage. A fresh start demands a clean slate. Let everything from the past go (easier said than done, I know). Clear your plate and your palate.

Let go of attachments to what you’ve been doing for the past year, or years. Let go of failures. Let go of fears you’ve built up. Let go of reluctance. Let go of your ideas about what your life has to be like, because that’s the way it’s evolved so far. Let go of long-held beliefs and habits.

You have a fresh start. Let go of last year, and start anew.

2. Decide what matters most today.
Forget about your goals for all of this year. Instead, decide: what do you want to do today?

What matters most to you, to your life? What are you most passionate about, right now? What excites and invigorates you? What would give you the most fulfillment?

Often the answer is in creating something, making something new, helping other people, becoming a better person, working on a project that will be an accomplishment to be proud of. But whatever your answer, have it clear in your mind at the beginning of the day.

This might be something you work on all year, or it might just last a month, or it might last a week or a few days, or just today. It doesn’t matter. What matters is today — that you’re going to work on this with all your heart, today. Tomorrow … we’ll decide on that tomorrow.

3. Clear away distractions and focus.
Clear away email and Facebook and Twitter and your favorite blogs and news websites and social forums, clear away the iPhone or Blackberry or Android or cell phone, clear away all the little nagging work and chores and errands that pull at your attention, clear away the clutter that surrounds you (sweep it off to the side to deal with later).

In fact, if you can, shut off the Internet for awhile. You can come back to it when you take a break.

Now, find focus. Even if only for 15 or 20 minutes at first, but preferably for 30-60 minutes. You can take a break and check your email or whatever after you’ve focused. Focus on the thing that matters most. Do it for as long as you can, until you’re done if possible. Feel free to take breaks, but always return to your focus.

When you’re done, focus on the next thing that matters most, and so on.

4. Find happiness now.
Don’t look at happiness as something that will come when you’re done with this goal, or when you’ve attained a certain accomplishment or certain amount of wealth or material goods. Don’t look at happiness as a destination, something that you’ll get later.

Happiness is possible right now. Always remember that. When you push it back until later, it’ll never come. When you learn to be happy now, it’ll always be here.

When you’re doing whatever you’re passionate about, whatever matters most, whatever you decide is worthy of your time and heart and focus … be happy! You’re doing what you love. And that is truly a gift.

5. Reinvent yourself, every day.
Every day, you are reborn. Reinvent yourself and your life, every day. Do what matters most to you, that day.

It might be the same thing that mattered most yesterday, or it might not be. That isn’t important. What’s important is today — right now. Be passionate, be happy, right now.

You’ll have a fresh start every single day — not just on January 1. And that, my friends, is the best thing ever.



Join a million+ breath-taking readers: rss | email | twitter | +