New Year New Me? We have heard it all before, and as much as we roll our eyes, you still have to admit there’s something magical about the new year. It symbolizes a fresh start, a clean slate, and a world of opportunity. While I believe that growth should be consistent and we should be ever evolving, I have recently realized that there is nothing wrong with setting your intentions for the year. However, if you’re anything like me, you fall short of setting aside any time to plan how your miracle will manifest itself.
TD Jakes once said that “God doesn’t make chairs, He makes wood, and we are to make the chairs, tables and the buildings.” Essentially, we are fully equipped to accomplish every resolution we set, but I found that I wasn't intentional about the process at all. Each year would pass, and I’d ask myself where did it go?
The truth is it walked right by me as I passively watched. I knew I needed a change, something spicy, something different to start my year. Ultimately, I was inspired by my sister who goes on a personal retreat on the last two days of every year to clear her mind and set her intentions for the next 365 ahead. This is not a foreign concept, many countries have “Prayer Mountains,” where people go to zone out, retreat, and pray over issues or new journeys ahead. While I wasn’t going up any mountain in Brooklyn, I did book an Airbnb and had a fantastic experience. Find out about my retreat and some fun tips for you below!
It doesn’t have to be expensive: Thanks to modern innovation, things just don’t cost as much as they used to. I booked an Airbnb right in Brooklyn for two night. I was recently recovering from a Eurotrip, so I only booked a private room but made sure the hosts have good reviews for being respectful and courteous. If you’re balling out of control, feel free to get a nice hotel for two nights, you deserve it.
Don’t be too focused on timing: Obviously it would have been great to make this retreat before 2018, but don’t let that deter you. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. You can plan a retreat at any time: today, tomorrow, your birthday, before a new semester, before a new job, if you are working through issues. I would have liked to go on the last two days of the year, but most Airbnb’s were booked. I eventually went the day after Christmas.
Logging Out: you probably knew this was coming, but it wouldn’t be much of a retreat if you were still on social media or chatting with your friends. Log out of all your social media apps and group chats or mute the notifications. Tell your family and friends you will be away for two days and only call in case of an emergency. It’s time for your mind to rest, no more scrolling, comparing, or complaining.
Figure out your focus: ok you have two days all to yourself, now what? That’s up to you to decide. Different people have different agendas. Personally, I spent the majority of the time praying, watching preaching, meditating and doing forgiveness exercises. Some people might dedicate themselves to finishing self-help books they couldn’t get throughout the year, watching shows, getting spa services, etc. However, I think it's essential to implement the below 4 points in your trip
Reflect: think back, all the way back to January. Feel free to look at your camera roll to see what you were up to then. Jot down your accomplishments and failures. Be sure to be as generous with your achievements as you are with your failures. It’s important, to be honest with yourself but don’t beat yourself up either, give yourself some credit. You have come a long way. Write in detail how different experiences made you feel, what you could you have done better. I would recommend using this reflection to plan your new year/new stage in life ... but first forgive ...
While everyone has their own agenda, I would recommend that you try out a forgiveness exercise. Bitterness is a terrible poison that we drink daily while waiting for the other person to hurt. There’s a healing power that comes through forgiveness that transcends all beliefs systems and faiths; it is universal. I found that bitterness was holding me back from manifesting destiny. I spent much time meditating on pains when I could have been meditating on all that I am equipped to be.
I wrote out a list of people who have offended me in the past years, as far back as I could remember. Even that bully from elementary school? If you remember it... write it down. Write down every name or experience that comes to your head, and one by one forgive each person or experience. Challenge yourself to say aloud. “I forgive ____, and I choose to let you go as I begin my new year. ” You might shudder, you might open your mouth and words do not come out, but you can do. Forgiveness is a decision, you might not feel a release right away, but you made a significant step. This might take a while, but it’s worth it. New year new me? Not quite but you can give yourself a chance at peace and a refreshed perspective.
Ok so you’ve reflected and cleared your slate, now it is time to move forward. Let's get to the fun part, shall we? It’s time to plan. We will avoid the word resolution due to the negative connotation. It’s time to prepare practical steps to reach your daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and lifetime goals. I purchased a planner that helps me do just that, called a “Passion Planner.” It’s designed to help you keep track of your goals, as far as a lifetime and as close and the next hour. This sort of planning gives room to thoughts we never allow ourselves to have. Even if you decide not to buy the planner, I’ll tell you what it entails and how to implement it on your own.
1. Write down your lifetime goals (think big! You are allowed), your 2018 goals, and monthly goals.
2. Start small, for example: Write down a goal you want to accomplish in the next three months. Brainstorm everything it will take to achieve it. Now start pacing yourself by outlining what you need to do on a daily and weekly basis to get there
3. After you write these goals, make sure you give time for reflection. Each week, set aside time to get away for 20 minutes and evaluate what worked and what didn’t work. Learn from your mistakes and implement more realistic ideas for the weeks ahead. Do this weekly, monthly, and hopefully, by the end of 2018 you’ll be at your personal retreat reflecting on a year where you held yourself accountable, and something unusual happened.
Challenge yourself: I always said I would go to a restaurant and eat by myself. The idea was always pretty daunting to me. However, I am working towards enjoying my own company, and this was a great way to start. I went to Applebee’s with my iPad and watched Waiting to Exhale while I ate my food. While this is not a 5-star restaurant, I never realized how family/group oriented Applebee’s was until I went alone. It felt like the waitress was taking an eternity to take my order. It wasn’t until I got back that my host told me I was only gone for a short while. I laughed and thought “oops! Baby steps.”
If you decided to plan your own personal retreat, please let me know! I would love to hear all about it. Follow me @Madam_at_the_top