This post may contain affiliate links.
We’re getting in a day early to wish you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR! You may have already seen our blog post and/or video with our Christmas/Holiday message, brief recap on 2016 and what we are looking forward to in 2017. But if you haven’t, you can get caught up right here. Right now, we’re surrounded by hundreds of palm trees at our campground in Palm Springs, CA and have a vista of snow capped mountains off to the right. The contrast is both surreal and beautiful. Locals tell us it’s unseasonably cold for this time of year in the California desert, but hey, at 60F (15C) it’s still pretty nice for winter!
This past week, I (Julie) have been immersed in sorting through hundreds of hours of video footage from our 2016 travels, with the lofty goal of creating one video to showcase our ‘Year of Travel & RV Life’. Trying to condense 12 months and countless experiences into say 12 minutes is a fun, yet all-consuming creative challenge! Our goal is to publish the video next week and I’m excited to see how it all comes together so we can share it with you.
This weekend we’ll be seeing in the New Year with some RVing friends here in Palm Springs. And although we don’t make new year’s resolutions we DO spend time on a Year End Ritual to help us close out the year and create new goals for 2017. We have had an amazing past year – actually, our whole 30 months on the road so far has been pretty epic – and now it’s time for us to sit down and decide what else we want to create and experience in 2017. It’s something we look forward to carving out time for each year.
There are times when people say to us “Oh you’re so lucky” and we do acknowledge that “Yes, we are lucky”… AND we are also quick to point out that we also worked hard to create that luck. These things don’t happen by accident. Creating a life of full-time travel with jobs that we can do remotely while exploring the country (and the world), while also living within our means has come about as a result of the time and effort we have put into envisioning, planning, goal setting and making personal choices that align with our vision and goals.
Honestly, it feels very rewarding to look back on the year that was and see how much of what we had hoped, envisioned and worked toward – travel, places, people, relationships, fun and adventure – have come to fruition. Sure, we’ve had some challenges and inconveniences (hello breakdowns) along the way, but that’s all part of the journey we signed up for and it’s how we handle them that matters most.
We believe a big part of how we’ve been able to create and live this awesome lifestyle comes from our New Year Ritual – which we do at the end of December or during the first week of January. The exact date isn’t as important so much as actually DOING it is. And while this blog post isn’t specifically about an RV-related topic, it IS that time of year when many of us are reflective on the year that’s passed and what we’d like to have, be or do different in the coming year. That’s why people create resolutions, because they want something better for themselves. They are well intended, yet so often (for many of us) resolutions are made and soon broken. Which is exactly why we don’t bother with them. Instead, we dive into our own ritual and creative visioning process and that has always worked for us.
And because this process IS part of our journey and how we got here, we feel this post is timely for end of year and one that everyone (who is willing) can benefit from, to help them create a rocking 2017 – regardless of how an RV fits into that picture!
You can do this alone, with your significant other, your kids, your friends – we know couples and families who love doing this together. It’s a really fun, creative way to co-create and share a future vision together and even MORE fun when these things start to happen!
So in our end-of-year message to you, we can’t think of a better way to wrap up 2016 than by sharing below the tool and methods we use to celebrate the year that was and welcome the adventures of the new year ahead. We hope some of you will find these helpful for creating your own awesome year.
Thanks for being part of our 2016 – here’s to a fun-filled, adventurous, prosperous and healthy 2017 for all!
Best of LIFE,
Julie & Marc xo
PS. We’ve called these actions below a ‘ritual’, but if that doesn’t work for you, you can just call it an exercise – whatever works!
Our New Year Ritual & Visioning Exercise
Here’s what you’ll need:
- a pen and several pages of paper to write on (or a computer/tablet if you prefer to type than write)
- firepit or BBQ
- magazines, scissors, glue and a big sheet of cardboard (or a computer/tablet if you prefer to do it the digital way)
1. Carve Out a Quiet Time and Space
Allocate some time (anywhere from a couple of hours to a whole day) to do these activities in your favorite room or space. Bring your beverage of choice, turn off the TV/radio (you can put on non-distracting background music), light a candle or just sit in silence – whatever you need to do to get comfortable and concentrate. You don’t want to be interrupted! Take a few deep breaths to get centered,
2. Write a Letter of Gratitude to 2016
That’s right, write a letter to ‘the year that was’. A lot of things happen for (or to) all of us throughout the year. Some are good, some are bad, some are awesome and some are just OK. Some are dreams that came true, some are lessons we need to learn, some are problems we have to solve or suffering we have to face, some experience loss (physical, emotional, financial).
Without judging any of it, start at the beginning of 2016 and mentally run through the year month by month to acknowledge and write down whatever you remember or comes up for you. It’s usually easy to be grateful for the good things and not as easy to be grateful for the ‘bad things’ that happen, but it’s really important to find the gratitude or lessons in the difficulties too, as that is often what helps us grow or shows us what needs to change.
Consider every aspect of your life – health, relationships, work, money, home, opportunities, lessons, ideas, challenges – and write what you are grateful for – even if it means acknowledging some tough stuff. Just start by writing “Thank you 2016, I am so grateful for….” and keep writing. It may take time to get into the flow but just keep writing. Your letter may be a single page or several – it’s not unusual for my letters to run to 3-4 pages or more. Just write until you’re done. There’s no right or wrong way to do this.
3. Write a Gratitude Vision Letter to 2017
When you write down your vision and goals for your life, you make them more tangible. And this time, you’re going to pretend it’s already the end of 2017 and you are now reflecting on the year that was, all that happened and all of your experiences. Write a letter to 2017 thanking it in detail for everything it brought you, focusing on each area, just like you did above for 2016.
It’s a little different to a letter of intention or a wish list – what you want or would like to come about – in that you’re writing this in the context of already being grateful for that ‘which has already happened’ – even though technically it hasn’t. I know, I know… this may be hard for you logical, linear types, but it’s a subtle difference that is much more powerful than just writing out your goals, wishes or intentions.
When you write and think about these in the past tense with gratitude, it helps shift your thoughts and feelings from a state of wanting or hoping into a more empowered state of readiness and receptivity for your goals and dreams to happen. When you think about these things as having already happened, it’s a form of mental rehearsal, which is what pro athletes do when they’re training for winning their events. You want to win your 2017 event, don’t you?
4. Read Aloud (optional) then Burn the Letters
You may prefer to keep your writing private and that’s totally fine, but Marc and I like to each read our letters aloud to one another – as we enjoy sharing and having them witnessed. When you’re ready, go outside, light your BBQ or firepit and set the letters alight – first the 2016 letters, then the 2017 letters – watching them burn until they are nothing but ash. The purpose of burning is to release everything you wrote in the letters to let them go and trust they are now ‘in the works’. You can’t force things to happen but you can allow them to and when you release your gratitude letter for 2016 along with your gratitude vision letter for 2017 you’re inviting the Universe, God, Higher Power, the Source, the Force (or whatever you like to call that invisible magical energy that causes the sun to rise and set each day) in to help bring it about.
Now, because I’m a much faster typist than I am at hand writing (these days, too much writing gives me hand cramps) I usually type my letters then print them out before reading and burning. Not only is this a time saver, but I also get to keep a copy of the letters on my computer. I don’t usually go back and look at them, but it can be fun (and actually quite mind blowing) to go back a year later and re-read what I wrote, what came true and how – as things don’t always show up in the ways I hope or expect – sometimes it’s even better!
5. Create a Vision Board
Finally, we like to create a vision board – a visual montage of pictures and words – that displays what we want to create for our life in the year ahead. An easy, digital way to do this is by creating a Pinterest Board but sometimes we like to create a physical board that we can see every day. This year we bought a poster frame from IKEA to hang on the wall. We fill the vision board with pictures and words that we cut out from magazines that encapsulate things we want to co-create together – or simply maintain what we already have (like a loving relationship, fun and adventure). If we can’t find the pictures and words we want in magazines, we will look for images on the internet and print them out to add to the Vision Board.
HANDY TIP: Save on expensive printer ink by creating a Word document with all the pictures (and words) you want then have Staples or Office Depot print the pages out for you – it’s often much cheaper and better quality than printing on a home inkjet printer. If you’re creative digitally, you can create your entire Vision Board on your computer then print it out, frame it and hang.
You may remember seeing the specific vision board we created for the exact RV that we wanted to help us stay focused. We ended up with about 95% of what we had on that vision board (everything but the Auto Gen, Solar/inverter) – pretty darn cool, huh? Not this RV below is not ours but as you can see, it’s almost identical.
Finally, when your Vision Board is complete, hang it up in a place where you will see it every day – whether it’s in your bedroom, living area or office. Even having it in your peripheral vision is helping put powerful, creative energy behind your goals. And that’s it!
It may sound like a lot of work, but you can spend as little or as much time on these exercises as you wish. Personally, I’ve been doing these for over 20 years and they have proven to be incredibly powerful and inspiring tools for helping me achieve my goals and dreams. From jobs and businesses, to travel and money, to my husband and our full-time traveling RV life, I know that these New Year rituals and vision boards have played a huge part in helping me create a pretty amazing life. And that’s a LOT to be grateful for.
If this kind of exercise is new to you and you have any questions, please feel free to email and ask. Have fun!