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  • Writer's pictureYvette E. McDonald, LCSW-QS

Preparing For the Upcoming Year

What's your process for transitioning from one year to the next? Do you create New Year's Goals? Do you pause to process the upcoming year? Or do you just keep it moving?

I am all about pausing, reflecting and processing. What better time to do the ultimate pause but toward the end of the year. This has been a ritual of mine and my families for almost a decade now with each year us expanding upon and growing more and more intentional. It's crazy to think back when we started, with just doing the One Word challenge. My boys were around 4 and 5 years old when they sat crafting their Word for the year on the art work to be displayed throughout the year. Fast forward and we still have the same habits of sitting and reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the year to come with more intentionality.

So, what's part of our end of the year ritual?

The One Word approach is a simple, narrowed focus/filter to personal change. This One Word becomes the filter in which you examine yourself and your life for an entire year. We have done this both individually and then created a word for the family to pursue throughout the year.

We first process individually examining our personal growth and areas of continued growth and then as a family we create time and space to talk and share our word and how we will live it in the new year. This has been helpful over the years as it aids in helping us get clear on what's most important, recognize blindspots and create a support structure. Our One Word examples: Lead, Peace, Courage, and Freedom.

2. Values List.

The last couple of years I have been completing a self-guided training titled "Dare To Lead" by Brene Brown. In part two of the book she speaks to Living Into Your Values. She says "Daring leaders who live into their values are never silent about hard things." This is where I developed the habit of getting clear on my values and living them out. "Values being "principals of standards of behavior; one's judgement of what is important in life (Oxford English Dictionary)." With values we just look through our values list and make sure that we are living in our values and course correct where necessary. Click here to find the values list in addition to a Podcasts discussing how to live into our values.

3. Habits

This is a fun one. Habits have been part of our every year review since the beginning and if I'm being honest it has been one of our biggest areas of struggle, especially with us all having ADHD. In the past we have read Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy and several other book on the subject of habits. But, this year they got pumped with steroids after having read "Atomic Habits" by James Clear. I highly recommend reading this book and examining how your habits hurt or help you in becoming the best version of self.

4. End of the Year Review

It was last year when I came across this awesome resource that really allowed me to be intentional regarding how I examine the year. It's a comprehensive journaling tool to help you process the year. What I love best about it, is how it really has you sitting in the year and reflecting on how you showed up with specific prompts and guidance. Check out the resource here.

Not that bad of list as it pertains to processing the past year and stepping into the new year with intentionality and clarity. However, this year we have some new additions.

New additions to this year:

1. Sustainable Life

This is where I examine how sustainable my life is in addition to my work life balance. I examine my weekly tasks, work schedule, home life, social activities, homeschool schedule, teaching schedule and really all the push and pulls on time. In addition I review my boundaries that energize me and actions that are depleting me. It's really about looking at how I'm creating a life that energizes me and recharges me. Especially being a Highly Sensitive Person, the way I do everyday life can have a negative impact on my Mental Health and how I show up in my many roles. Sometimes this means that I say no to certain things, make permanent changes in my schedule and take more me time. Whatever my life calls for in this current season it's the practice of looking back and evaluating how I live my life and if it's sustainable.

2. Adventure List

"We are not guaranteed tomorrow but we do have today." This became real for me when my mom died of brain cancer last year at the age of 67. It had me sitting in this idea of how we wait till retirement to travel and adventure, something she wasn't able to enjoy. After her death I reevaluated how we do adventures and made some bold moves. We got a travel trailer at the end of last year and have spent the year traveling to new places, creating new memories and exploring. It's been the best year yet with so many adventures. Now moving forward we are going to create an adventure list each year to places we want to see and things we want to do. This coming year so far we have Key West, the Panhandle, Baltimore (ADHD Annual Conference) and of course our Florida Parks on the agenda. We are keeping it low key this year as we are planning our Alaska trip for 2024.

The biggest take away I want you to have is that you have a choice and you don't have to be a victim to your life. I love what Michael Hyatt says:

“You have a choice in life. You can either live on-purpose, according to a plan you’ve set. Or you can live by accident, reacting to the demands of others. The first approach is proactive; the second reactive.”

It's up to you if you want to let life happen to you or be part of the process. Tackling your year end review one bite at a time. Remember this is a list that we have built on for the past decade. The biggest things is to be intentional with your life in order to be the best version of you.

What do you want to say to yourself in December of 2023 with regards to the way you lived, the choices you made, the habits you created, the places you went and the people you connected with?

Additional Resources:

We tend to take on one of 3 modes as we head into the end of the year: Rush To The Finish | Goal Striving Mode, Check Out | Vacation Mode, Reflect, Integrate & Assess | Review & Plan Mode That last one is my approach. I love to use these final weeks to understand what happened over the last 12 months, in all parts of life, consider what went well and why, where I stumbled and why, and how I can learn and integrate all of it into setting up the year to come to rise higher. And, I thought I’d walk you through my process – it’s a very different take based on a model I developed a number of years ago around the key elements of living a good life I call the Good Life Buckets. Super excited to share this powerful process with you in today’s episode.


Yvette E. McDonald is the owner and counselor at Traveling Light Counseling, a practice for individuals, couples and families helping them discover the person/couple they were always meant to be, as they become the best version of self in their roles and relationships in the Port Saint Lucie and Martin County area. She specializes in all things relationship. Relationship with self, others and children.


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