Days, months, years, and moon cycles mean nothing and everything. We know that growth can happen at any time, but using markers like these can provide helpful structure for setting goals and celebrating how far we’ve come. A new year is the perfect moment to consider how our lives are unfolding. I’ve created an easy New Year tarot spread and a set of New Year journal prompts to guide your reflections and compiled a few important reminders before you put pen to paper.
Reminders for Healthy & Productive Reflections
On Missing the Moment
Sometimes we can’t fit in a journaling session, a card pull, or a quiet moment alone for reflection. But really, if we miss the opportunity to set intentions during the window of a full moon or the twenty-four hours of our birthday, the magic isn’t completely lost. Although New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are the bookends of our years, we can view the entire month of January, and frankly the year’s first quarter, as a spacious time to consider our personal development, our professional paths, and our relationships.
On Finding Meaning
Don’t feel like you need to force some larger meaning on your year as a whole. A year is made up of 365 unique days. I know if I watched all mine back, looking for meaning in every moment, I’d find footage of myself scrolling Instagram at 2 a.m., cleaning cat poop off the carpet, and spending a Saturday watching Princess Diaries for the nineteenth time sprinkled in the montage of my life’s soul-defining experiences so far. Sticking a neat little bow on a year with an overarching theme, symbol, message, or synchronicity isn’t always possible or realistic. Get what you can from your New Year tarot spread or journal entry, don’t get hung up on labels, and remember that you are the one making the meaning.
On Staying Positive
It’s easier said than done, but try to maintain a positive outlook on the year you’re leaving behind and the one you’re stepping into. Practice self-compassion and self-empathy as you complete any New Year reflection exercises, especially when connecting the dots between goals and outcomes. Many of us don’t accomplish what we set out to do. We don’t pick up the habits we plan to develop. We don’t take the course we plot for our careers. We put things on the backburner, change our minds, and face unexpected events. So survey the ups and the downs, the achievements and the shortcomings, but do so with kindness and forgiveness for the person behind the wheel—you.
New Year Tarot Spread
Those big, sweeping New Year tarot spreads with ten or more cards are impressive tools for close examination, but let’s just keep things simple. Three cards are more than enough to spark some ideas and get mindful about your year.
- Growth Last Year: Let this card speak to some of your experiences from the previous year. What do you think it says about how you’ve changed for the better? Does it represent any lessons you learned or knowledge you’ve gained?
- Gratitude Now: Let this card remind you of something to be thankful for. What strengths and abilities are you celebrating? What do you love about the person you are now? What has sustained you, filled your cup, or brought you joy?
- Growth This Year: Let this card give you a glimpse of the year ahead. What areas of your life does it bring to mind? How might you explore a new space or part of yourself? In what ways does it make you hopeful about the future?
New Year Writing Prompts
Your Year in Review
Action: Create a list of personal and professional wins from this year. Jot down anything that comes to mind with the intention of recognizing big accomplishments, small new skills, and even the little gifts of luck and serendipity the universe has thrown your way.
What achievement, big or small, are you most proud of and why?
How do you think you’ve grown or changed over these twelve months?
In what ways would a younger version of yourself admire you now?
Your Desires & Goals
Action: Create a mind map by segmenting your life into spheres: mental health, physical health, family, romantic relationships, friendships, work, hobbies, self-care, etc. Circle each and space them out across a page or two to allow ample room for notes. Give all spheres a number, ranking them in order of importance for you now. (This order changes many times throughout our lives.)
What desires and goals do you have for each area of your life?
In what ways does each sphere offer you something valuable?
Which areas of your life are most important to you now and why?
Your Year Ahead
Action: Picture yourself at the end of this next year, imagining what experiences you might have had and how your identity might have developed. Write down five or more adjectives you think the future you embodies.
In what ways will you become a more fulfilled person in this new year?
What strengths will you use to make decisions and face obstacles?
What are you excited to experience in the next twelve months?
Bonus: Your Word of the Year
If you haven’t already given it a go, you may want to choose a word to guide your actions in the new year. Many people keep their word in mind when they make big decisions, let it represent some larger goal for the year, or simply check in with it at the end of the year to make contextualizing growth easier.
What word will you focus on throughout the new year?
How do you define this word and why is it important to you?
My word for 2020 was “gentle.” I wanted to be gentler with myself as I worked to accept an ADHD diagnosis and confront some of the difficulties I had in my personal and professional lives. Recalling my word as I noticed patterns, hit roadblocks, set goals, and navigated change helped me practice patience and try to avoid negative self-talk—things that will always be tough for me!
Share Your Thoughts
I hope you have fun with your New Year reflections and find value in what they reveal. Feel free to share with me any big takeaways or more methods of ringing in the New Year through writing, tarot, and other mindful tools.