5 Ways to Step Fully Into a Bold, New Year


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By Natalie MacNeil, author of The Conquer Kit 

Pursuing your boldest goals and deepest desires should feel sacred, natural, exciting. After years of chasing my goals in a way that exhausted me, I’ve developed a plan to make my dream-chasing full of joy. This is my ritual to set myself up for soul-stirring success:

Let go of last year’s failures

You have to let go of the past to step wholly into your future. Even the most polished, impressive professional has had missteps and mistakes. We’ve all launched things that weren’t successful, bought books we didn’t read, and pitched clients who didn’t hire us.

Make a mindful decision to let go of what didn’t work or what didn’t happen in 2015. I like to hold a little ceremony to release the year that has passed. I write anything I need to let go of on strips of paper and burn them. Then I light incense and sit in meditation as I release the past and call in a new year full of new lessons, experiences, and connections that are for my highest good.

Honor where you are right now

Everyone you admire was once a novice just trying to find her way. Arianna Huffington once had no idea how to blog. J.K. Rowling got rejected again and again for Harry Potter. Oprah Winfrey was fired as a co-anchor for the news because producers didn’t think she was good enough.

Rather than getting down on yourself for not knowing everything about everything, congratulate yourself for having the guts to be walking the path you are walking.

Choose a word for the year

I love giving each year a theme that I consider “home” for me. This is what I come back to. It’s easy to get bogged down and distracted by minutia. You can stay focused and centered by choosing a word that you’d like your new year to represent for you.

Here are some of the words I’ve used in the past to get you thinking: Expansive, balanced, magnetic. When I find myself adrift or contemplating certain requests and opportunities in front of me, I remember my word and everything becomes clear.

Focus on five big picture goals

Close your eyes and visualize December 31st, 2016. What are you most proud of achieving throughout the year? Where, and how, are you spending your day? What causes did you contribute to and get involved in?

When you know your five big picture goals, break them down into five key milestones that can keep you on track.

Tuck them into your Google calendar and set up reminders. Get a Trello or Asana account so you can track your progress. Print out a checklist and hang it by your computer so you’ll see it every day and be reminded of your next step.

In my new book The Conquer Kit, I have readers create build out these big picture goals and create mini vision boards for each goal. It’s powerful to keep your vision boards focused like this and you can print out images and words that will help you envision what your life will look like when you reach this goal.

Create a 5×5 plan

I put all my bigger picture goals and milestones into what I call the 5×5 Plan (you can download your own here.) This is a grid of your 5 milestones for each of your 5 bigger picture goals. This gives you 25 major things to focus on for the year. Not too overwhelming, right? I hang this plan near my desk so every single day I’m reminded of the 25 things that matter most.

If I’m presented with an opportunity I’m not sure of or I find myself getting distracted, I just reference my 5×5 plan and move forward accordingly.

As with all rituals, you need to make it your own so I turn it over to you now, and I invite you to share your own new year ritual in a comment below.


For more rituals, exercises, and strategies for creating a soulful business, check out The Conquer Kit: A Creative Business Planner for Women Entrepreneurs. The Conquer Kit is a canvas for your dreams and goals, and an interactive experience that brings business planning into the realm of play. You’ll sketch, scribble, glue, tape, and write all over the journal-style pages while developing an airtight business plan to guide your next 12 months.

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