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What To Do With a New Year

Instead of making the same old New Year's resolutions, why not try something different? Go after what you really want for a new year and really live it.
PUBLISHED December 30, 2017
Dana Stewart was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 at the age of 32. She is the co-founder of a cancer survivorship organization called The Dragonfly Angel Society. She volunteers as an advocate and mentor, focusing on young adults surviving cancer. She enjoys writing about life as a cancer survivor, as well as connecting survivors to the resources, inspirations and stories that have helped her continue to live her best life, available at
The possibilities for a new year are endless.  I love that part.  It's always a fresh start; a do-over. You can make resolutions, vow to make this year better than the last, and just hope the year is going to be fantastic. Creating resolutions and saying "I hope" are not going to make it happen. The new year brings all the possibilities in the world, but most of those are not going to happen by chance.  You have set the path to grab those possibilities and make them reality. 

I used to always start the year with the same list of resolutions even though I'd convince myself they are somehow different from the past and even more so, I'd try to convince myself I'd stick to them for the new year.  They always consist of lose weight, save money, worry less, relax and be happy.  Those are all great but I have no clue how to achieve any of them by just writing them at the beginning of my calendar and hoping for the best. 

I also always look at my list and think that those are things that I shouldn't have to add to a resolution list to make them a part of my life. So, then I get frustrated, close that page of my calendar and basically never look back. Those resolutions pop into my head now and then throughout the year and of course I get frustrated with myself because, guess what? I realize I haven't done anything with them. Then the cycle begins again and what do you know? I am saying I can't wait for 2019 and what a great year it is bound to be.

Time to stop that New Year's frustration cycle.  Let's nip it now. How? Well, I am still trying to think through that myself. So, what do I want to do with this new year?

After I was diagnosed with cancer, I started to look at New Year's a little differently. For starters, let's face it, I always wonder if it will be my last year.

I know that's a negative start but it's the truth.  My cancer fears are endless and this is always the top of the list. So, I think, if this is my last year alive, how would I spend it? 

My first year after treatment I did everything I couldn't do the year I was sick. I planned something for every weekend whether it was just hanging out with friends, going to baseball games, taking the trip to Seattle I always wanted to take, and so much more. It was awesome but I wore myself out. It was like that year of cancer kept me in captivity and the year after was my first year of freedom.

A few years later, a friend of mine and fellow cancer survivor and I decided to do one new thing every day for a year. We called the year Life It Up 365.

We made a list of all sorts of things we wanted to try from learning to tie a tie, try indoor sky diving, and the biggie: taking a trip to Ireland. It was one of my all-time favorite years. I did 365 new things all in one year. There were no resolutions regarding weight and money. The resolution was simple: LIVE.  

The two years I discussed above are two of my favorites. The reason is I just made a pact with myself to live it up, enjoy life, and/or throw in any other cliché you want here. Bottom line is it happened. So, what to do with your new year? The possibilities are endless.  My only advice is don’t make the same old list.  Or, I should say, don’t ONLY make the same old list. 

I still love the ideas of saving money, paying off credit cards and losing weight.  Add all those in to your new year for sure if those are goals.  However, do yourself a favor and add in a few more items to your new year’s musts:  try something new, plan an adventure (even if it just means exploring your city or town), step out of the box and just live a bit.  You will love what you find in this new year.
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