Overflowing with Fresh Seedling

A new year’s ritual of mindful surrender

Jan 01, 2024

New Year Habits Reflections Transformation Goals
green leaf seedling plant in dry leaves

Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk

January 1st. It carries so much weight. So much pressure and expectation placed on it. Some carried over from last year. The older I’m getting, the less I make new year’s resolutions and instead, think of intentions I have for the year. What mindset do I want to approach the new year with? What energy do I want to bring into it? These might not be as measurable as goals, if at all, but I have found that they better reflect how I want to show up in that year and what I hope to get out of it by the end.

There is something else I’ve been thinking about as I’ve been preparing for the end of one year and the start of another. We often tend to begin a new year with a list of goals we’d like to accomplish, things we want to get done or finally start doing. It’s all very action-oriented and results-driven. It seems, however, that there is something very significant we’re missing in this process, something paramount to our success.

Setting goals and having something to work toward is wonderful, but what is equally valuable—and I would argue even more so—is reflecting on all the things we want to let go of and not take with us into the new year.

All the “stuff” that no longer serves us but only hinders us. Things like bad habits, fears, toxic relationships, negative thought patterns and mindsets, damaging self-talk, and limiting beliefs. We all have them, though many may be subconscious, buried so deep we no longer recognize them as harmful but simply a part of us. Yet we will never fully comprehend their power until we unearth and acknowledge them.

What are these for you? What would you like to leave behind in 2023 and not drag with you into a new year?

I made my list a few nights ago and it was shockingly long. It was hard to see them all written out, staring at me. Like piling all the clothes you own onto your bed to declutter them, KonMari style, seeing all the things I didn’t like about myself or my life and wanted to be rid of gathered all together on one page was jarring. Not to mention overwhelming. I knew I would not be rid of them all overnight; in fact, it would take a lifetime for some. But that is the painful pace of growth.

And so begins the practice of letting go. Just like Marie Kondo advises, before getting rid of items, we are to sincerely thank each one for serving its purpose. This can be applied to this new year ritual as well—we thank each item on our list for serving its purpose at the time we may have needed it. Fear may have kept us out of danger; toxic relationships may have taught us what we feel we do and don’t deserve; limiting beliefs may have protected us from taking risks too soon or from getting hurt when we hadn’t yet developed thick skin. Whatever no longer serves us, by definition, served us in some form at some point in our life. But now it’s time to part ways.

We must surrender what doesn’t further our growth in order to make space for what does.

There is new energy that wants to come into our life, but it’s blocked by all the stale, polluted energy we may carry around with us now. There is art that wants to be expressed through us, if only we silenced all the voices inside telling us we can’t make art.

Sometimes we’re scared of making space. Because all space begins as emptiness. We’d rather be filled with what’s familiar, even if it’s killing us, than bravely venture out into unknown territory. This is partially why addictions are hard to break. But this is the path of least resistance, and it rarely produces new fruit. If we can handle the anxiety-producing discomfort and dread that the void will undoubtedly generate long enough, with the intention of inviting in renewed energy and momentum, we will slowly begin to overflow with fresh seedling. And we will find ourselves ready to birth a healthier, more purposeful roadmap for our life.

So go ahead. Relinquish the damaging baggage of yesteryear and vow not to lug it around anymore. Easier said than done, I know. But begin energetically—mindfully surrender it and decide it will not have power over you. Acknowledge when it arises again, because it will, and gently refuse to partake in its deceitful traps. Though we may never be fully rid of everything on our list, we can make strides in that direction and let go a little bit more each day. And come year’s end, we may find the void has been replaced with so much beauty and art and anchoring vitality, that there’s no room for anything unsavory. As Marianne Williamson says, may it be so.