This year could be the best you've ever had.
This could be the year when you accomplish more than you ever imagined.
This could be the year when you finally feel content.
This could be the year when your relationships are happy and strong.
This could be the year when you feel great about yourself.
With every new year, we start pondering how we can improve. What new habits do we need to develop? What goals should we set? What should we add to our lives to make them better?
Having goals and developing good habits are valuable endeavors, but sometimes it's more important to consider what you need to let go of rather than what you need to add to your life.
One of the reasons it's so hard to follow through on habits and goals is because we have mindsets, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that block our success.
Then we feel worse about ourselves, heaping on more negativity and resistance to change.
Here are 41 things to let go of this year:
1. Spending too much.
The holiday season is the time when our credit cards get worn out from over use. By late January, we're feeling buyer's remorse and wondering why we felt so compelled to spend so much. Set a budget for yourself now and stick to it so you don't feel guilty and overwhelmed.
2. Overindulging with food and alcohol.
You don't have to overindulge in food and alcohol just because it's there. Make a mindful decision about how you want to nourish your body during the season so you don't feel you're already behind in your eating or fitness goals. Keep a supply of fresh fruit and vegetables available so you always have a choice. Also, keep some bottles of sparkling water and limes handy to have instead of a cocktail.
3. Trying to cram too much in your schedule.
In the last few years, I've cut way back on the number of events and obligations I commit to during the holiday season. I want to enjoy time with my friends and family and relax in the comfort of my home. I don't want to rush around like a chicken with its head cut off. You can't do it all, so pick and choose the most meaningful events carefully.
4. Regretting the past.
The holiday season often evokes painful memories from the past. We get stuck on our regrets, old wounds, and anger. The past is dead, and no amount of thinking about it will change anything. When you feel yourself falling into the hole of lingering on the past, force yourself out of it. Take action and do something fun or productive. If you have trauma from the past that isn't resolved, go to a professional counselor and work on it. Do this for yourself and those who love you.
5. Taking things personally.
During this time of year, people often have short tempers and irritable demeanors. Some people have these problems year round. Remind yourself that it isn't you. You aren't the cause of their behavior, so try to let it go and move on. Don't waste to much thought on wondering what you might have done.
6. People pleasing.
Of course we want to make others happy, especially during the holidays. But when you please others at your own expense, then your actions become unhealthy. Your sense of self-worth shouldn't be based on the approval of others. Please others because you want to — not because you fear they won't love you if you don't.
7. Self-critical thinking.
One of the most damaging triggers for low self-esteem is indulging in self-critical thinking. You might assume that you are self-critical because you have low self-esteem, but these negative thoughts make it nearly impossible to boost your feelings of worthiness. Start by changing your thoughts, even if it feels false at first. Catch yourself when you are self-critical, and say something positive about yourself instead. Choose to focus on what you know is positive and good about yourself.
8. Putting things over people or experiences.
We all know that stuff doesn't bring happiness, yet we all fall in the trap of buying things to make us feel better. Time with people we care about and meaningful experiences foster long term positive memories that increase our overall happiness. Spend your money there first.
9. Comparing yourself to others.
Feelings of jealousy and inferiority make us feel bitter, resentful, and unhappy. Make a vow to yourself to end comparisons. Look to your own measuring stick for success and happiness. Hang around people who are supportive, encouraging, and uplifting rather than those who attempt to make you look or feel bad.
10. Making excuses.
Making excuses is simply a lie we tell ourselves and others to cover ourselves. People are rarely fooled by them, and they only serve to distance you from what you really need to do to accomplish what you need to accomplish. You can offer honest and valid reasons, but never excuses.
11. Assuming you can't.
There have been so many endeavors in my life that I assumed I couldn't master. Then I stopped assuming and started trying. Assuming is just a barrier between you and what you CAN achieve if you try. Assume you can do something, and let your repeated efforts prove it to you.
12. Letting someone else define you.
Don't give away your personal power and true self to someone else. No matter how close someone is to you, they can never know your authentic feelings, beliefs, and motivations. If you don't know what they are, start asking yourself and discover who you really are.
13. Taking your partner for granted.
If you're in a relationship and you love this person, make them the centerpiece of your life. Really. Do something every day to show them how much you love them. Put the relationship first and let everything else fall behind it. If your relationship is empty or unhappy, so will your life be.
14. Feeling guilt or shame.
If you need to apologize to yourself or another person for something you've said or done, then do so. Then release yourself from the burden of guilt and shame. Forgive yourself and try to do better.
15. Neglecting your physical health.
Poor health will undermine everything else in your life. Let go of your resistance to giving your body the time and attention it needs and deserves. Eat well, get daily exercise, go to your check-ups.
16. Avoiding a difficult conversation.
Are you procrastinating on a difficult conversation or resolving a conflict? Let that go and handle it immediately and directly. Don't let the situation fester to the point that it causes you anxiety.
Gossip may be fun for the moment, but it's hurtful to others and demeans you. Let it go.
18. Letting fear rule you.
How many actions or decisions have you avoided because you were too afraid? Fear is a feeling that's rarely based in reality. It's like allowing a toddler to make your decisions for you. Use your sound judgment and wisdom, rather than your fear, when making choices for your life.
19. Assuming you know the answers.
We all tend to operate from the assumption that we know everything. We just know that our opinions and beliefs are the best. But that's simply not true. Challenge your beliefs and assumptions and be willing to stay open to new ideas. This makes you more approachable and expands you.
20. Procrastinating on an important project.
Procrastination is like a thorn in your side, irritating you and making life uncomfortable. You may think you're too busy right now, but just get started. Once you take the first step, the rest is far easier than you think.
21. Trying to control other people.
When you try to control others, it's a way of revealing your own insecurities. Accept others for who they are and allow them to do as they wish. Your efforts at control only create resentment, and you can never really control another person anyway.
22. Taking out your inner pain on others.
If you are angry, wounded, or resentful, taking it out on other people only pushes them farther away from you. Find a healthy outlet for your feelings (by journaling, talking to a counselor, or sharing with a friend) so your inner pain doesn't hurt others.
23. Avoiding your inner pain and the root cause of it.
If you do have inner pain, find out the cause of it so you don't continue to harbor it and take it out on others. Whatever the cause may be, you need to acknowledge it and address it forthrightly. A therapist can help you with this.
24. Pretending it's really OK to be overweight.
The #1 New Year's resolution is losing weight. It's also the #1 failed resolution. Don't accept being overweight as inevitable or OK. Take care of your health and let go of any excuses or ambivalence you feel about being overweight. Be determined to address it, even if it takes a while.
25. Putting others down who don't share your beliefs.
It can be intimidating to be around others who believe or think differently from us. Just look on Facebook, and you'll see how quickly people turn to criticism and belittling of those who hold differing opinions. A healthy disagreement is positive, but name-calling, put downs, and shaming only make you look petty.
26. Assuming you know best for other people.
This is part of controlling behavior — thinking your way is the best way for those around you. You may have good ideas and opinions, but wait for others to ask you before you assume they want to hear them. You may be surprised to learn that what you think is best really isn't what someone else wants at all.
27. Treating your children disrespectfully.
Even though they are small, young, and inexperienced, they deserve to be treated respectfully. You can train and discipline your children with love and kindness, even when you need to be firm.
28. Treating your parents disrespectfully.
Just because they're your parents doesn't mean they don't have feelings. Show them love, respect, attention, and kindness.
29. Treating yourself disrespectfully.
You deserve as much love and respect as anyone around you. Even if you don't feel worthy, start treating yourself as someone who is. Over time, your respectful actions may convince you it's true.
30. Allowing your home to get cluttered and disorganized.
Clutter drains your energy and creates anxiety. It's especially easy to let things get out of hand during the holidays. Take just 10 minutes a day to tackle the clutter and keep things tidy. This one small habit can make you feel remarkably better about yourself.
31. Seeking happiness outside of yourself.
No one person or situation will make you happy. So let go of seeking it in those places. Happiness is a mindset. There will always be times of pain and hardship, but a mindset of positivity helps you move through those times more quickly and easily.
32. Holding on to the small lies you tell yourself (and others).
We all have little lies we tell ourselves and others to feel better. Those small lies are roadblocks to your personal growth. Stare them down and face the truth, even though it's uncomfortable. The truth sets you free.
33. Grasping at “magical” thinking and wishing above planning and action.
Wishing thinking and magical laws of attraction don't create real and lasting change. The only way to make things happen is by taking daily action. If you want something, you have to go for it — not just with your mind but also with your hands and feet.
34. Pointing blame at others without taking personal responsibility.
When things go wrong in life, it's tempting to point to others as the cause of the problem. More often than not, the cause is some choice or action that we've taken. Personal responsibility gives you the freedom to manage and control your own life.
35. Hanging on to a victim mentality.
You may have had tragic and difficult events in your life. Someone may have treated you terribly or taken advantage of you. But if you allow these events to make you a victim, you'll never escape the pain or find the happiness you want. How are you hanging on to a victim mentality? Isn't it time to let go so you can move on?
36. Comparing your self-worth to your physical appearance.
When you don't feel attractive or desirable, it's hard to feel good about yourself. But if you look around you, you'll see that most people in the world aren't physically beautiful. Your value rests in your unique self. Try to practice acceptance of your appearance, flaws and all, and focus your attention on your internal qualities.
37. Self-sabotaging behaviors that give you an excuse not to succeed.
Are you behaving in ways that undermine your happiness and success? You may not be conscious of it, but sometimes we sabotage ourselves because we fear success or fear that we are destined to fail, so we might as well prove it to everyone upfront. Notice how you might be doing this, and begin to let go this tendency. Don't be your own worst enemy.
38. Using passive aggressive behaviors to manipulate others.
When we're too uncomfortable or afraid to be straightforward and honest, we can resort to passive aggressiveness. These “back door” behaviors are manipulative and weak and create resentment in your relationships.
39. Assuming that self-work is a waste of time.
Your self development is a life long endeavor. We always have something to learn and transitions in life that can be wonderful opportunities for positive change. But it requires active awareness and effort along with the desire to become a more evolved and emotionally intelligent person.
40. Avoiding getting help when you need it.
Far too many people believe asking for help is weak. If this is you, let go of this false assumption. Asking for help is a sign of strength, courage, and determination. We all need support and help when going through difficult situations. We are not meant to cope with these challenges alone.
41. Believing that you can never change.
One of the main reasons people don't make the effort to change is because they don't believe they can. They falsely assume that life is stagnant and that they are destined to repeat the same problems and patterns forever. Science has proven again and again that change is possible, and it begins with the belief that it is. Belief fosters hope. Hope fosters action. Action can move mountains.
The year sits before you like a big, blank canvas. Before you begin painting on that canvas, make sure your mind is clear, your heart is ready, and you have nothing holding you back from achieving your goals and dreams for the year. Learning to let go is the first step in self-creation.