During this time of year, I would usually find myself counting down the number of days left until New Year's Eve. By early December, I would have already reserved a hair and nail appointment, as well as a table at a hot restaurant that is most likely difficult to book on a weeknight. If I was planning to stay in town, I would have tickets to a gala, and out of town, tickets to a tropical destination like Playa del Carmen Mexico.
Typically, I've spent hundreds of dollars every New Year's Eve but the most curious part is that I can't even remember how I rung in the 2013.
Even though I rang in the new year with what was essentially a bout of amnesia, I'd wager what money I had left over from one of those out-of-the-ordinary nights (okay, probably enough for a cab ride home) that I had a blast.
Unfortunately, waking up on Jan. 1 was hardly fun.
Through my business, I mentor many health coaches and nutritionists, so as I drank their hangover remedy, and wondered why I was willing to take their advice seriously on every day except New Year's Eve? I consider my day-to-day a healthy lifestyle, from my diet (I'm a greens queen) to keeping fit through yoga and meditation. I count myself fortunate to find that my job never feels like "work." So why am I making New Year's Eve into such a production?
My inner guide would challenge the blaring questions like: Why is it that post-Dec. 25, do we go back to spoiling ourselves, from picking up items we never got for Christmas on Boxing Day to excessive spending on New Year's Eve festivities? What are we gaining from overdoing everything on the last day of the year? Why do we want to start the New Year with an inflated credit card bill rather than feeling fulfilled?
I'd say my feelings about waking up on New Year's Day after a late night out on the town are comparable to how much I enjoyed The Hangover. The first movie was funny but when I saw the second and third films, I wondered why on earth I was wasting my time and money when I already knew what was going to happen. Why was I not learning that every sequel to The Hangover (both movie and real life) was never as good as the original? No NYE party was ever going to top the last.
I began following my heart that would tell me that the way you ring in the new year sets the tone for the year ahead. Instead of living for New Year's Eve in the near future, I realize the best present I can give myself and those around me, is to live fully in the present.
This year, my family and I decided to do things differently. We won't be spending our money toasting champagne and counting down the seconds until the New Year. We're going to make every second in the present count, spending our time making authentic connections, real face-to-face connections, with others.
After three months of promoting our new foundation, #TheFreedomProject, business meetings and networking events -- not to mention hours on the computer connecting with inspiring social entrepreneurs over Skype and FaceTime, I am ready to disconnect and just be in the flow. This doesn't mean going away on vacation and relaxing on a beach, which is just another way I could spoil myself.
We're ringing in the new year by reconnecting. We're getting back to authentic human interaction with no agenda, where nothing (no friend request, no tweet, no picture on Instagram) is expected in return. It's Christmas spirit that lasts beyond the 25th of December.
In keeping with the idea that the way you ring in the new year is setting the vibration for the year ahead, we plan to spend the morning of Dec. 31 volunteering our time at a retirement home listening to our elders share their stories and hopefully finding comfort in young people slowing down to hear them out.
Whereas last year around dinnertime on New Year's Eve, I'd be dining on a multi-course tapas dinner and sipping on a Sauvignon Blanc, this year, we are planning to make healthy meals (thanks to all of my nutritionist friends for the food and snack tips) and hand them out to people living on the streets of Toronto. My decision to opt out of the typical New Year's Eve festivities sets the tone for the rest of the year beautifully. Flow, freedom, presence and purpose.
Most importantly, this isn't going to be a one-day "trend" but inspired service that will continue throughout the year. Unlike a New Year's Eve party that lasts a few hours and then disappears after the stroke of midnight like fairy godmother magic, I guarantee my high is going to last beyond one night.
Co-Founder of The Freedom Project