Don’t set New Years Resolutions. You heard me, don’t do it! Years of research on human behavior shows that making New Year’s Resolutions does not produce sustainable change, but building positive strategies for change does. In fact, most people quit and give up on their resolutions after only 6 weeks. Are you one of the many?

If the last twelve months brought excess stress, strained relationships, calamity, or upheaval to your life, you may be thinking “Good riddance” as you end this tumultuous year. Rather than allowing the New Year to be a reminder of all the things that went wrong this past year, embrace it as a brand new opportunity to put the past behind you and move joyfully forward.

In order to close out one year and start another in a positive way, you must let go of any negative thoughts you’ve been harboring about the events of last year. Avoid thinking that nothing will change in the New Year, or that things will always be undesirable. A New Year is a clean slate. What happened is in the past and before you lies a new future.

The key is to set your mind on how things will be better this year. By focusing your mind on what you want, as opposed to what you don’t want, you’ll be able to see last year’s setbacks in a different light. Seeing a setback as a challenge that you can overcome, even if it takes some time, will allow you to continue moving forward, even when things aren’t going your way.

Even the happiest people have challenges. Just like you, at times they struggle and feel beat down. The difference is that they get back up again and focus on solutions rather than problems.

Focus on Letting Go of the Past

When you release what you’re struggling with from the closing year, you free yourself to move forward without its heavy trappings. Even if something hurt you or made you upset, and even if people were unfair to you or treated you wrongly, today can be a new day for you.

There are several ways to let go of past hurts. Experiment until you find what works for you. The good news is that if you keep trying different approaches, you’ll find something that helps you succeed in this endeavor.

Try the following for a new, fresh perspective and direction:

  • Visualize your hurts and worries as balloons, and release them to the sky.
  • Make a list of the upsetting events from the last year and set the list on fire.
  • If you’re religious, pray and ask for release from the pain or challenges you face.
  • Spend time in quiet reflection so you can find more peace in your life.
  • Take the time to consciously forgive others for what they did, even if it’s hard to do.
  • Be honest about any changes you could make to improve the quality of your life.

Move Forward Into the New Year

Once you’ve found the right way for you to let go of the last year, it’s time to get ready for the new one.

What do you want to do in the New Year? What are your goals, plans, and dreams? Write them down. Take a look at them. Have you left anything out? Have you added things that really belong to others and what they want for your life?

Adjust your list to reflect what matters the most to you. Prioritize it with your most important objectives at the top. Break down your list into manageable segments, with small steps that you can accomplish one by one, and then you can move forward with the confidence to achieve great success in the New Year.