Turning the page to a new year means reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future.
Everyone, sooner or later, is bound to have an annus horribilis, the Latin term for “a terrible year” that Queen Elizabeth famously brought into modern parlance at the end of 1992.
A tough year is one of those “I know one when I see one” things, usually made up of a combination of profound crises and smaller, more mundane challenges. Having lost my father to cancer in September, I have been thinking a lot about how to bring a year like this to an end in the healthiest and most authentically positive way possible.
Here’s what that doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean pretending this hasn’t been a terrible, messy, complicated year, or declaring that only blue skies await in the new year.
So how can I—do we—turn the page with authentic positivity?
Call It What It Is
The first step toward positivity in almost any situation is to be honest about it. There’s no sense in spending your energy painting a black-and-white year with a technicolor brush. Instead, embrace the reality that you had a tough year.
Seek Support from Those Who Understand
I don’t know you, but I do know this: you are not the only one who is coming through an annus horribilis (for that matter, neither am I). Connecting with others who are coming to the end of the year with mixed emotions will help you feel less alone—and perhaps more importantly, help you see beyond your own situation.
Practice Checks and Balances
No one has ever had such a terrible year that they made it 365 days without a single moment of joy, a win to balance the losses, a pleasant surprise. Encourage yourself to focus on making a list of reasons to look back on this year with peace and even happiness. It doesn’t have to be a long list but orienting your thoughts in a positive direction will offer a gentle check against the idea that you’re stuck in an annus horribilis.
Make a Plan
Having a plan can help you move forward into the new year with peace and confidence. Your plan could involve connecting with a therapist or support group to help you work through your challenging emotions. It could involve choosing a healthy eating, fitness, sleep hygiene or other wellness plan to step into as the new year dawns. Call it a resolution, call it a plan, call it a promise—call it whatever will best help you move forward.