by Jeanne Strauss
Every January I write a New Year’s journal entry. I make a big production out of it. The necessities include a cup of hot tea, a nice pen, the journal I plan to use for the year, a couple of favorite books for inspiration and my fuzzy slippers. This yearly ritual provides a special time to reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead.
I start by reading last year’s entry. I love to see how right (and how wrong) I was in my predictions for the year. It reminds me of the things I hoped for and also highlights the gifts I never saw coming.
I begin by writing about the good things that happened in the past year. I write about changes that occurred and how they benefited my life. Then I write about what I would like to see happen this year. I write down my goals, New Year’s resolutions and a few of my wildest dreams.
Journaling Through the Year
Keeping what I call an abundance journal is something I recommend to clients at any time in the year. I create a “before test” for them to measure their mood, satisfaction with life, self-esteem, stress, happiness, depression and anxiety levels. After using the abundance journal for several weeks, their test “score” usually improves quite a bit.
I encourage you to start an abundance journal this year to help you focus on your gifts and accomplishments. Create your own “before test” or find one on websites to help you gauge your own levels of anxiety, stress, happiness or depression. Throughout the year, continue this practice with monthly, weekly or even simple daily entries.
How to Begin
- Take a “before” test so you can objectively measure the effectiveness of this practice.
- Find a nice journal that motivates your desire to write.
- Set aside at least an hour or two to gather the supplies you need, reflect and write the first entry.
- Write down all the good things that happened in your life in 2014. The more you write, the more positive memories you will trigger. Consider several areas of your life: physical, material and spiritual. Think about your relationships, work, life circumstances and events. Reflect on your own personal development and remember successes you achieved and risks you took.
- Write about what you hope to happen in 2015. Be detailed and specific about your hopes and dreams. Write your goals and New Year’s resolutions.
- Write daily for six weeks after your first entry. Every day, write at least a brief entry listing three good things that happened yesterday and three outcomes you want or today.
- After six weeks, re-take the test you took before you started. Notice how your outlook on life has improved. Pay attention to your stress levels, your happiness and our outlook on life.
- Continue your journaling practice at least monthly throughout the year.
Keeping an abundance journal is a powerful practice that reminds you of all the good in your life right now and helps you identify what you want in the future. You will be more aware of the abundance in your life, and better equipped to recognize the opportunities you receive on a daily basis.
Jeanne Strauss is a therapist in San Antonio working with individuals and couples. She has been a licensed clinical social worker for 25 years, specializing in anxiety, stress, personal development, couples counseling, communication and resolving negative relationship patterns. She can be reached at 210-787-6384 or www.jeannestrauss.com. Look at the “Emotional Wealth” tab on her website to get some ideas for developing your own before-and-after test.