Celebrate and Create – a New Year’s writing exercise

I found this step-by-step writing exercise by “actors’ advocate” Dallas Travers a few years ago and have found it to be a great way to review the past year and organize my thoughts looking forward. Unfortunately her site is under construction right now, so I had to find a cached version…and figured I’d post it here with my own tweaks for YOU to check out – and also for me to find it more easily next year! And you don’t have to wait for New Year’s – any milestone like a birthday or life change or just because you feel like it will do.

This is my variation on Dallas’ classic “recipe” where I’ve adapted her words to my needs. Have fun!

proceed as if success is inevitable

Celebrate 2014. Create 2015.

This exercise allows you to take stock of the year behind you and acknowledge all the amazing things you accomplished. It will also help you to kick start the new year with excitement and vision.

Sit back, relax and get ready to Celebrate + Create!


Make yourself comfortable. Play some music you love, grab some yummy food or cup of tea, light your favorite candle. With a notebook, pen, and google calendar (or whatever you use!), begin your Year 2014 Reflection.


With your calendar handy, review the past year and consider what you are most proud of in each of the following areas of your life:
– Career
– Health
– Personal Relationships (family & friends)
– Professional Relationships
– Confidence
– Business Approach (marketing tools or mentality)
– Finances
– Craft & Creativity
– Personal Growth (investments you made in yourself)
– Spirituality
– and of course, Fun or Play (like traveling!)

These are geared towards actors so feel free to add your own categories or leave off ones that don’t really apply.


Identify 3 primary intentions or beliefs that guided you in this year. Perhaps you notice certain values or priorities that popped up consistently throughout the year.

You don’t have to get really deep; just write whatever comes to mind. I jotted down
   1. Make the most of every opportunity, even alone.
   2. A little is better than nothing.
   3. Don’t worry; you’re already on the right track.
It only has to make sense to you.


Now look back and consider what didn’t work as well as you had hoped.

Buddha's 3 things that matterWith compassion, consider the unrealized expectations, unexpected circumstances or interruptions, challenges, upsets or losses, doors opened and doors closed.

After making a list of what didn’t turn out as you’d wanted, ask what was learned or even gained from going down an unplanned path. Note which were finite moments that have passed and which are ongoing opportunities.


Consider what, if anything, you feel incomplete about. What actions can you take to tie up any loose ends?


Finally, create a year-end ritual. How can you celebrate the challenges you moved through and success you enjoyed? How can you make a renewed commitment to yourself for the coming year?
cat sun

The year-end ritual can be a little break from the exercise. Have an impromptu dance party or hug it out, light another candle or burn some sage, have a snack or glass of wine, or all of the above.

Take a deep breath in thanking the year that’s gone by and then out to welcome the year to come!


What are you looking forward to in 2015? What 1 to 3 specific goals would you like to accomplish by the end of next year? Dream specifically!

You may or may not actually accomplish these goals in a year, but I find that even the process of formulating what I’d LIKE to accomplish stretches my imagination, strengthens my hope in good things to come AND makes me smile.


What improvements or changes in lifestyle or mental attitude do you anticipate or hope for in the next year? (Step 6 was about specific goals whereas Step 7 is more about ongoing changes or systems, like nurturing your professional network or learning a foreign language.)

How would you like to create these changes in your life? Who might be able to help you succeed at these changes?


Of the life and career goals or intentions you have for 2015, what are you building on or recommitting to from the past year? What’s new? What resources do you bring from 2015? What resources will you cultivate?

Also note and appreciate how much you’ve already created or done!


Which people do you wish to build stronger relationships with? Who would you like to attract into your life? How will your relationships (personal and professional) blossom in 2015?
Anne Frank HowWonderful - sq

Make a list of at least 10 people you wish to build stronger relationships with. You may already know who they are. You may not.

I like to quickly brainstorm lots of people and then go back and revise my list to get more specific, especially regarding the people I want to connect with!


What principle or action will you give up so that you can experience a fuller life?
– Dallas’ example: “I give up being late. I will be early or on time. I have more than enough time to take care of myself and all that is important and meaningful to me.”
– Me this year: “I give up dragging ass. I have enough time and energy to anchor myself AND explore new things. I give up on being late and having bad days.”


How do you want to experience 2015 – what color, taste, texture, smell, and sound does it have? What images come to mind when you picture the coming year? If 2015 had a theme song, what would it be?


With those images in mind, create a vision board to represent all that 2015 holds for you – a physical representation of your life vision. Vision boards allow you to use your artistic skills and creativity and play with the physical picture of your future. They’re a lot of fun to make and an effective way to supplement your actions with internal focus.

My 2013 Vision Board

Here’s a collage-based vision board I made with Dallas’ instructions for 2013. It took a surprisingly long time to make, so this year I might just write out my vision ideas on a big sheet of paper.

Having a clear understanding of my intentions and new systems for 2015 is the most valuable part of this exercise for me. But we’ll see; I might get crafty January 1st!

I hope you enjoyed doing this exercise and would love to hear your thoughts or see pictures of your vision boards in the comments section! Happy New Year!

You can be good - Steinbeck