There’s only a few days left in the year. What can we do to bring the year to a satisfying closure? How can we use the remaining days to help launch a brand new year?
There’s a tradition in Japan that involves using these last few days to get year home cleaned and your life organized. In the spirit of that tradition, here are some suggestions:
1. Spruce up your home. Pick a room or an area of your house and give it a thorough cleaning. The Japanese do this with their entire home. I have more modest expectations. One room is a success. Any surplus items that are still usable can get packed up for Goodwill.
2. Organize your paperwork. Do you have any piles of papers? If so, this is a great chance to sort through one or more piles before the change of years. Set up new files, recycle outdated paperwork, diminish those piles (and notice how that feels once you are done).
3. Charitable giving. Our family gets together during the last days of the year and decides where to make our contributions. Though there are tax reasons for doing this before January 1st, it’s nice to end the year on a giving note. Knowing that we helped others with our own resources is a heart-warming activity for the whole family.
4. Pay off a debt. If you owe money to a friend, a bank, a credit card company, or someone else, you might consider paying your debt, if possible, before the start of the year. Or making a special payment on your debt, particularly if your debt is a long-standing one. You can go beyond a strict cash interpretation, and return library books or anything else you have borrowed. The more you can reduce your “owed to others” list, the lighter the weight you carry into the new year.
5. Reflect on the past year and consider some of your highlights, joys, sorrows, blessings and more. I’ve developed an e-book for New Year’s Reflections that provides structure and guidance for this special time of year. (You can get a free e-book by becoming a member of the ToDo Institute).
6. Reconcile and Reconnect. Find someone you are disconnected from and reconnect. Maybe there was a conflict and you’ve just lost touch. You might write a letter or an email, send a card or make a call. You might receive a response back or you might not. But making a conciliatory gesture can be good for your spirit, regardless.
7. Finish Something That’s Unfinished. The tile floor in the basement bathroom needs three more tiles. There’s also your photo album, A half-done essay. A sewing project. What about your will? Select something you can wrap up before the New Year and take it on.
8. Write a poem. One of the great Japanese traditions is to write a poem on the first day of the New Year. But why not write a poem (haiku or otherwise) at the end of the year? Finish the year with a creative moment.
The last few days of the year are like the last stretch of a race. How you finish makes a difference. If you finish strong, it gives you some nice momentum to start the new year. Rather than work on resolutions for the next year, we can do our best with this one, ending on a strong and positive note!
Gregg Krech is one of the leading experts in Japanese Psychology in the U.S. and author of, The Art of Taking Action: Lessons from Japanese Psychology. He will be conducting the Living on Purpose Distance Learning Program starting January 11, 2019.
Gregg Krech Author, Naikan: Gratitude, Grace and the Japanese Art of Self-reflection (2002)| Author, A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness (2004, 2011)| Author, A Finger Pointing to the Moon (2000)| Editor, Thirty Thousand Days: A Journal for Purposeful Living (1993-Present)| Director, ToDo Institute (Vermont) (1992-Pr......