Cosmopolitan Column on How to Create an Exceptional Year – Every Year

How to create a phenomenal year for yourself by Athena Laz


How to Make This An Awesome Year For You

Q:Hey Athena,

I find your column super empowering so I thought I would write in. Last year was a colossal disaster for me. It felt like I went from one shit storm to another. Work was bad. My relationship was rocky. My social life felt boring.  Politics worldwide seemed to get to everybody. I’ve just had enough and do not want to lose myself, next year, the way I did this year. I’m generally a very grounded person and feel like my energy can and does make a difference in my life but this year had left me feeling victimized, which I can’t stand.  I want to make this year phenomenal for me. What recommendations do you have? Should I try out affirmations, practice gratitude etc. ? Thanks, Beth.

A. Hi Beth,

I know that a lot of people out there will tell you to write out or say affirmations to get you out of victim mode but I’m not going to do that.

When something has been hard the most helpful place to start is with rigorous honesty and acknowledgement.

It is also not helpful to pretend to be grateful for things that you are not really thankful for. It ends up being an exercise in futility (more on that later).

 So first and foremost, declare what has not worked for you.

Rip out any form of denial and look back at your year with honesty.

Write it out or talk it out, it doesn’t matter.

What were you unhappy about?

What could you have done better with?

What are you responsible for?

Did you take an active part in your social life, relationship and work life?

How did you fall into victim mode?

Why did you fall into victim mode?

What felt good?

What felt bad?

How to create a great year - every year- by Athena Laz

When you can take a detached look at your role in everything, you move out of victim mode back into a position of power because things are no longer happening to you.

Rather, your life happened  and not all of it was ideal and your role in it was, well, whatever it was.

That said, it is also helpful to acknowledge that it is totally human to falter and that it’s okay to fall off the awareness wagon now and then.

Just be kind to yourself – show yourself compassion and then try stay empowered through mindfulness and heartfelt actions.

Then and only then, do I think it is helpful to write out a list of what you are really grateful for.

Be authentic here.

Don’t write about something that doesn’t feel good to you or because you think you should.

Write about what did work for you.

 What did your heart resonate with?

What made you feel joyful, inspired, loved, supported etc?

 Then decide on what you can do to bring in more of what you enjoyed experiencing.

 Danielle LaPorte, author of the Desire Map, (you can watch our video interview here), maintains that goal setting is actually not about getting the tangible things we so often write on our resolution lists but rather that it is all about how you want to feel in the process of getting there.

So, how do you want to feel i and what can you cultivate in your life to allow more of that to come in for you?

How to create a great year - every year- by Athena Laz

8 Steps to Help You Create a Great Year For Yourself

Declare what is not working in your life.

Be honest about what you could have done better.

Acknowledge that it is not always easy doing the above and so always try and be kind to yourself.

Write a real gratitude list – be authentic here.

Rather write two sentences of truthful points than two pages of platitudes.

Write a list of what you are proud of – set out to write two pages.

If your automatic thought was that you couldn’t possibly full out two pages, I challenge you to think harder and again not to fall into victim mode.

Recognize what you want to feel moving forward in the year.

Begin visioning.

Take care,

Athena Laz is the founder of, where she uses her skill as a licensed psychologist, self-help author & columnist to help others find their inner power.

P.S. This was originally feature in my #AskAthena column in Cosmopolitan Magazine.

If you would like to ask a question e-mail or tweet me.

P.P.S. I always love to hear your thoughts – so pop a comment below.

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  1. nadaliebardo 3 years ago

    Hi Athena,

    I so appreciate that your advice starts with honesty.

    I think sometimes we forget to just start where we are, and sometimes where we are is hurt, disappointed or depressed about how things are going. Personally, I find that affirmations are helpful when they connect to my truth about how I’m feeling.

    Wishing you a phenomenal year Beth!

  2. Author
    Athena Lazarides 3 years ago

    Hi Nadalie!

    Love your input 🙂 diving into the truth of how we feel is a powerful process in all shapes and forms.

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