New Year New You

Or not

Ximena Vengoechea
4 min readJan 3, 2024

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January calendar

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

Happy New Year friends!

I hope you made it through the holiday season with more highs than lows, more health than illness, and more fun than stress. Now that it’s a new year, I’m sure that you, like me, have quickly turned over a new leaf, completely turned your life around, rebooted your attitude, and instantly become the best version of yourself… right?

Before you put so much pressure on yourself, may I suggest a little breather? Perhaps it would be all right to take it slow? As much as I love the gusto that comes along with the New Year, I also want to make space for slow transformations. Some of us are still processing last year, and that’s okay. Let’s emerge from our cocoons when we are good and ready. No need to rip the bandaid off. The New Year is a time for reflection, but we needn’t rush it and wrap it all up in the span of twenty-four hours.

When the inner work is slow, it can be tempting to skip the self-reflecting and look for external guidance instead. There were a lot of End of Year Reflections in my Substack inbox this past week — the kind of essays that suggest that it’s okay if you haven’t done your own self-reflection yet, for they have done it for you. I am sure that the authors were able to make meaning from the chaos of the last year and draw valuable lessons from their experiences. They have been generous in sharing what they’ve been through and how they’ve reframed it for the better. But this year, I couldn’t bring myself to get through a single one. I knew deep in my bones it wouldn’t be enough.

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It’s not that we can’t learn from each other’s mistakes — this newsletter wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe that. But the most important lessons are the ones we learn ourselves. They are the most rich in detail, feeling, and emotion. They are the trickiest and therefore the best teachers.

So instead of offering you my personal reflections or encouraging you to turn your resolutions into SMART goals, I offer instead a few useful tools for you to do the very rewarding work of getting to know your year better, as well as yourself, at your own pace.

  1. Conduct a Life Audit. Dig deep to uncover hidden or overlooked hopes and dreams with this user-research inspired exercise in self-reflection designed by yours truly. You can get started following the steps on the original post (and also get a glimpse of baby writer Ximena’s hopes and dreams from over a decade ago). Next year, you can enjoy this process with a brand new Life Audit book! (Watch this space for pre-order links in the future.)
  2. Explore some “unproductive hobbies” like this author from The Cut. Sounds delightfully restful to me.
  3. Make a More | Less list. Exactly what it sounds like. Don’t overthink it! Coming to you from illustrator Julia Rothman, who jazzed hers up this year with some design elements, but scroll back to some earlier versions and you’ll see that all it really takes is pen and paper and a few minutes to make your list.

juliarothman

A post shared by @juliarothman

📚 What I’m reading

  • Bunny, by Mona Awad. A dark look at the creative writing process, academia, and loneliness. Weird and funny and biting with perfect pacing. Trust me!
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💸 Currently coveting

  • A copy of Percival Everett’s Erasure, a novel that was recently adapted into the very biting, very funny directorial debut by Cord Jefferson, American Fiction. The book is on backorder at my local indie and I am at the bottom of the holds list at my local library, but I’m dying to get my hands on it!

📢 Coming soon

  • I hope you enjoyed the first episode of my new podcast, Rest Easy, with author and designer Jake Knapp! We talk about how Jake got into design, what he learned about work from his parents, and how an unexpected brush with death changed his relationship to work and rest. Don’t miss it! Our next episode will feature author and illustrator Liana Finck. Stay tuned for the episode drop in the next update from me.

💌 Thanks as always for reading along and supporting my work. If you like what you see, hit the heart button, drop a comment, or share this with someone you think will love it, too. You can order my new book or book me for a speaking event here. 💌

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Ximena Vengoechea

Writer, UX Researcher, Author of The Life Audit ('24), Rest Easy ('23), Listen Like You Mean It ('21). ximenavengoechea.com/books