Gary Howard, MA, LPC
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2020: NEW YEAR? OR SAME ‘OL SAME ‘OL? (TRY THIS TRICK)

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” - Author Unknown

My lady and I have an annual tradition, a ritual we do every New Year’s Eve. Aside from leading to some serious lovemaking (a not-unpleasant side effect, I must say), it has also led us to greater successes in both our personal and professional lives. My 2019 success rate on the intentions I set in our last New Year’s Eve ritual is 50%, i.e. 100% better off than if I’d done no ritual at all.


I used to dread New Year’s Eve. For me, it dredged up all kinds of insecurities like, “Will I have anyone to kiss at midnight?”, “Have I accomplished anything of significance this past year?”, “I STILL have no clue what I want from life!”, “What’s the point of setting a New Year’s Resolution if I won’t even follow through with it?” I’d try (key word: try) to blot these anxieties out of mind with some kind of party.


Nowadays, long gone are those youthful New Year’s Eves with wild, intoxicated celebrations. Don’t get me wrong- my record proves that I LOVE going WILD. But our more conscious and intentional way of ringing in the New Year yields far greater rewards (and fewer hangovers and regrets) than the days of ‘yore.



Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 x one quart sized mason jars

  • 1 dozen (per person) tea light candles (wee ones in little metal cups)

  • Fire

  • Paper

  • Writing utensil

  • Optional but recommended: Friend, family member, or partner


Step 0: Decide if New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day is a better day for you to do this ritual.


Step 1: Set the stage. Gather the materials and participants in a good place (such as home). Reserve enough time so you don’t feel rushed.


Step 2: Open up your Jar of Gratitudes (if you started one last year). Read and/or reflect on the good things that happened in your life this year. Smile and laugh and be proud.


Step 3: Identify something you regret from the past year. Light a candle for this regret and reflect on the feelings and lessons. Then, totally let go of this regret, let the past be the past, and put out the candle. Repeat this step until you have reviewed and let go of every regret from the past year.


Step 4: Light a candle for every intention or goal you are setting for yourself for the next year. Dig into your heart to see what’s truly there. Don’t waste your time setting a goal that doesn’t actually mean a lot to you, or that you would only be doing for someone else. Write your goal down on a small piece of paper, fold it up, and place it in one of the mason jars.


Step 5: Let your Intentions Candles burn until they die out on their own. Let their light marinade you and your place with good vibes. When the candles go cold, place the little metal cups in the same jar as you placed your written intentions. Set your Intentions Jar out in a special place where you can be reminded through the year of your goals.


Step 6: The second mason jar is your Gratitude Jar for the year. It’s easy to forget all the good things that happen to us day to day, month to month. When something good happens this year, write it down and put it in the jar. This will be part of your Step 2 for your next New Year’s Eve ritual!


Step 7: Rock this year. Let it rock.


So there you have it. It’s that simple, folks. All we are doing here is getting real, letting go, being grateful, and setting some meaningful goals. A ritual like this increases commitment and follow through. It clears out the old and makes way for the new. It prevents half-assed resolutions. It builds connection with yourself and another. It demonstrates that you are taking responsibility for your own life.


“Insanity is doing the same thing over and again but expecting a different result.”


Mr. Chaos

Don’t be insane this year!



Looking for even more support to make 2020 your year of transformation? The next round of Men’s Goal Group is set to begin January 7, 2020. Click here to learn more and book your seat. Remaining space is limited!

One-on-one counseling and coaching with me is available to you. Click here to set up a free initial consultation with this sane-ish guy shown below.


Mr. Mostly Functional