How to Make 2022 Different than 2021

Tap Into Some Ideas with a Two-Step Ritual.

Does the start of your 2022 look a lot like 2021 to you? We’re faced with more of the same uncertainty around Covid and the same worrisome global trends. So the one sure way we can make the new year different is if we change how we live and lead. Let me share a ritual I use to spur my own personal transformation… and how I updated it for this year.

I started my my New Year’s morning the way I have for nearly a decade: I built a fire in the fireplace, took some deep breaths and wrote down a list of thought patterns I knew were holding me back. Topping the list year were fear of Covid and a belief that I don’t know how to… . (That last one has to be common for solopreneurs like me, right?)

Normally, in previous years, once I am satisfied with the list, I take another couple of deep breaths, set the intention to release myself from those limiting thoughts, and drop the written list into the fire.

This year, though, I felt that mere subtraction was not sufficient. I sensed that I needed to add new patterns in place of the thought patterns I was releasing. I knew that if I were to spend the coming year striving to not fear Covid or to avoid not knowing, I’d end up exhausted. As I learned while downhill skiing, trying to not hit the trees is not the way to get down the slope intact. You have to aim where you want to go.

Following my intuition, I paused before consigning my list to the fire. I turned to a fresh sheet of paper and wrote a list of thought patterns and beliefs to integrate in place of those I was releasing. Now, the thing we know about healthy psychology is that replacing old, unhelpful, rigid thought patterns with new rigid thought patterns is not an improvement. If I try to replace “I’m afraid of Covid” with “I’m not afraid of Covid,” I’d just be back in the trees again, dodging the rough trunks rather than flowing down the mountain.

So instead, I used my new list to focus on the beliefs that would help me breathe through my fears and concerns. On the new list, I recorded my intentions to set clear boundaries, aligned with my Covid risk tolerance, and to cultivate more curiosity in the face of new, unknown tasks. This list became my “line,” the path I could “ski” between the trees.

Once I feel satisfied that my list of 2022 intentions described a strong, flowing, adaptable set of mental and emotional tools, I turned back to my “release” list, gave it one last look and tossed it into the flames. I took a few more deep breaths to anchor the confident, composed feeling in my body and then went looking for an unused frame to hang up my 2022 intentions on a prominent wall.

Too many of us men have been taught to just “power through” challenging times with the old, outmoded memes of solo effort, stoicism, and brittle toughness. I invite any of you wondering how to bring your best self to your personal and professional New Year to use rituals and transformational tools like the one above. Use the release and integration ritual now, at the top of the year, and any time you need clarity and confidence.



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Charles L Matheus

Charles L Matheus

Charles Matheus is podcaster, speaker, & writer who cares about the future of the planet and the future of men.