By Maryalene LaPonsie
Stick a fork in it and call it done.
For whatever reason, 2017 was rotten for a lot of people. Maybe it was the year your marriage fell apart. Maybe it’s when you lost your spouse. Or maybe it’s not one big thing. Maybe the year was miserable because of the mountain of little things that went wrong – the lippy teenager, the broken washing machine, the lost promotion.
Regardless of why 2017 sucked, it’s time to close the door on your bad year and set up 2018 to be something better.
Here’s how you do it.
1. Pinpoint Exactly What Went Wrong in 2017
You can’t truly get over 2017 unless you mourn what went wrong. You need to grieve for your marriage, your spouse, your lost opportunities.
Only you know how to do this best. Walk to the middle of the forest and scream your disappointments to the sky. Open a journal and write down every little reason why this year was crap. Make an appointment with a counselor so you can vent all your frustration and not have to worry about censoring yourself.
However you do it, acknowledge that the year was rotten and this was why.
2. Have a Plan to Avoid a Repeat Next Year
Ok, so you know why things went horribly wrong. How you can you prevent those things from happening again?
Certainly, some things are out of our control – you couldn’t do anything to prevent your spouse from getting sick or your sleazy ex from having an affair. However, there may be things you could do to avoid some of what made the year so bad.
Draw up a home maintenance plan so you’re not surprised by expensive repairs.
Attend networking events or brush up on skills so you can get out of the dead end job you hate.
Build an emergency fund so you’re not always living on the edge.
I get that some of these things won’t happen overnight – budgets are tight, time is limited – but at least get a start on them.
3. Find Some Good to Add to Your Life
A lot of bad things may have happened in 2017, but the year may have also stunk because there were not enough good things happening.
Next year, try to crowd out whatever unfortunate events are coming your way with happy things that make you feel good. Can you budget for a monthly pedicure or night at the movies? Meet up with a friend to go walking once a week? Take up a new hobby you’ve always wanted to try?
What good thing can you add to your life to balance out the bad?
It doesn’t have to be anything expensive either. After my husband died, one of the things that finally lifted me out of my funk was reading. I used to love to read and basically stopped when he got sick. When I rediscovered reading, it was like finding just what my soul needed. It gave me something to do at night when I was prone to self-pity and allowed me to step out of my own unhappy life and live in someone else’s for a while.
4. Expect 2018 to Suck a Little Too
Oh man. Not what you want to hear, right?
I know. I wish I could say the calendar flips to 2018, and your life will be roses. However, part of the reason we sometimes get down on ourselves is because we expect too much. Be positive about the next 12 months but be realistic. It’s going to take some time to bounce back from the disappointments of the last year.
Know that every day is a chance to put the past behind you and start over fresh. Some days will feel great. Some will having you feeling like you’re back to square one.
Remember it’s not what happens to you that matters as much as how you respond. Make 2018 the year when you count your blessings, look past your imperfections and ignore those things that threaten to bring you down.
Now, let’s close the door on 2017, lock it up tight and throw away the key. Here’s to 12 months of something better.
About the Author
Maryalene LaPonsie is a personal finance writer, mother of five and keeper of memories for her late husband. She is a regular contributor to U.S. News & World Report, and her work has been featured on MoneyTalksNews, MSN, CBS News and elsewhere on the web. You can visit her personal website The Mighty Widow or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook.