Are You Ready to Kick-Start a Great Year?

Yikes! Don’t look now… January 2020 is almost over!

One evening last month, I was sitting at my home office desk, working on my computer after a long day at work. I imagined hitting the refresh button and pulling up a blank, new page on my Apple computer. In my mind, that’s how I wanted the new year to feel – a complete reset in seconds and my new year’s vision magically appearing in front of me. But, as we all know, it is never that easy. 

My internal gremlin quickly made an appearance and said, “Why did you sit around so long, enjoying the holidays? You should have been busy writing your personal and business plans for the coming year. If you had done that in advance, you would have been well on your way to rolling out a great, new year on January 1, 2020!” I shamefully nodded my head and mumbled, “I know. You’re right. I should have been a lot more diligent to avoid missing a beat in my planning efforts.”

Whenever I feel frustrated and paralyzed into inaction, I shuffle through my card deck, “Magical Mindshift” and pick a card that jumps out at me. Well, four cards jumped out at me… PURPOSE, COMMITMENT, COURAGE, and KAIZEN. My favorite pick was the word KAIZEN. This is what this card said, “Before you jump forward, look back and see how much you accomplished by working slowly, but surely”.


The Japanese business philosophy of lifelong learning in small incremental steps.

Master one thing at a time before trying something new.

From time to time, look back and see how much you’ve accomplished bt working slowly, but surely.

Kay’s quick doodle of a Rabbit looking back

Drawing a quick 2-minute doodle helps me to stay focused, visualize the concept fully, and helps my brain to think creatively to solve a problem. You should try doodling!

I decided to put my time into a period of reflection, looking back on all that happened in the previous year. I’ve always kept myself from looking back because all I seem to remember were the unpleasant memories of how much more I could have accomplished in the last year. I made up my mind to change things up for this year.

Resolutions tend to focus on our dissatisfactions and what we want to change. And while change is good, it can be unhealthy and unhelpful to focus solely on our deficiencies and shortcomings. It’s good to also notice how far we’ve come, reminding ourselves of how much we’ve improved, and the progress we’ve already made.

This way of thinking may seem like complacency but it’s actually the best catalyst for self-improvement. I’m more motivated by positive reinforcement than negative, so this mindset encourages more growth for me. It reinforces in me of my courage, commitment, drive, and resiliency, which in turn gives me the desire to continue growing and following my dreams.

Hopes and curiosity for the coming year.

Go ahead and make a list of things that are important to you as well as what you want to learn in the coming months.

Then create an action list of to -dos to keep you moving closer to what you want to accomplish.

New resolutions tend to focus on our dissatisfactions and what we want to change. While change is all well and good, it can be unhealthy and unhelpful to focus solely on our deficiencies and shortcomings. It is also important to notice how far we’ve come, how much we’ve improved, and the progress that we’ve already made. This way of thinking may seem like complacency but it’s actually the best catalyst I have found for self-improvement. Personally, I am more motivated by positive reinforcement than focusing on the negative, so this type of mindset works wonders in inspiring me to improve myself. It reinforces my courage, commitment, drive, and resiliency, which in turn gives me the desire to continue growing and follow my dreams.

In that spirit, I’ve outlined my thought processes for developing a simplified plan for 2020:

Step 1: Reflect on all that happened to me in 2019.

Disappointments – Focus on the wisdom I learned from these frustrations and regrets.

Accomplishments – Remember how these made me feel and what I learned from them.

Step 2:  Determine the kinds of skills and new mindsets that were learned during the previous year.

Step 3:  Define my hopes and curiosities for the coming year and outline what I want and hope to accomplish. 

Step 4:  Develop my Kaizen Plan for 2020 and be mindful of its mantra of “small incremental steps.” 

Step 5: Draw a visual diagram of my plan and post it in plain view so that I can stay focused on my goals each and every day.

Want to write your own year-end review and a plan for 2020?

Why not start your year with hope and curiosity by writing a year-end review of your own? What went well for you last year? What things improved in your life? What goals did you achieve? And what do you intend to do to have the greatest year ever? Comment below to share your thoughts with me.

To provide you with some inspiration, I want to share two videos with you. It involves a long-term goal that I always had in mind and was eventually able to bring to fruition in 2019. I will always remember this successful, “Women in Business” conference because it helped a diverse group of women entrepreneurs to learn, connect, and grow. Hopefully, it will provide some of the momentum you need to do something special and memorable in 2020. 

And here is my second video I want to share with you. My favorite philanthropy event of each year, “Angels for the Animals, Giving a Helping hand to the Animals in Need”. I have been helping the animals in this way for the past thirteen years! These are memorable events where the feeling of love, joy, and compassion stays in my heart throughout the year.

Stepping into the New Year, Embracing Childhood Memories

My childhood memories of the year-end traditions, while growing up in Kyushu, Japan always flood my mind this time of the year.

I went through culture shock when I arrived in America at the age of eleven and saw how differently people in America celebrated the coming of the new year. Lively new year’s eve parties, waking up late on January first and watching football games on TV while munching on various party foods was so foreign to me. 

The older I get, the more I cherish my childhood memories and the tradition of “starting new with a fresh mindset.” It’s such a good feeling to get enough sleep and rise early on January first, refreshed and ready to face the coming year.

Love is Kind artwork

My favorite thing about celebrating the New Year in Japan was to dress up in a colorful kimono and visit the nearby temple. I wrote my wishes for the coming year on a piece of rice paper and hung them on the large tree that stood in the temple’s ground. I can still remember the birds on the branches and few stray cats who came up to me asking to be fed.

New Years Memories Growing Up in Kokura

Starting at the first of December, Mother would say, “Keiko, we are going through each room in our house to clean every nook and corner. Here’s a check-list so be a good girl and do your part.” Without an argument, I helped Mother clean all the shoji-screens, de-cluttered the drawers in every room and scrubbed marks off the walls.

Mother’s To-Do list for me read like this:

  • Do you owe anybody money? Pay it back.
  • Did you say mean words to any of your friends? Apologize.
  • Did you mean to do a kind act for someone? If not, do it now.
  • Do you have any unfinished homework or projects? Complete them.
  • Did you think about what you will do in the coming year to become a better person? Write them down and bring them with you when we go to visit the temple.

After I finished my to-do list, it was time to relax and enjoy the coming of the new year on the evening of December 31. Mother and I sat in our clean house and enjoyed eating a traditional bowl of buckwheat noodles topped with grated mountain potatoes. While the slippery noodles went down our throats, we listened to the faraway sounds of the temple bells as it rang out the exact number of the year we were about to enter.

Mother said, “Keiko, soba noodles are the last to enter your stomach this year. This is cleansing. You will start out the new year with a clean body and a clear mind.”

I loved getting up early on New Year’s Day. Mother dressed me in a colorful kimono and we visited the temple and prayed for a good year so we would have the fortune to maintain good relationships, health and wealth. After that, we went home, ready to have fun playing children’s games with the neighborhood children and eating traditional New Year’s food which Mother prepared. 

Japanese new years is called Shogatsu, that lasted for three days (Jan 1st – 3rd). 

I still take this tradition seriously and try my best to follow through as much as I can with the list my Mother made for me. 

Why not try to follow this list, or something similar, for yourself? I guarantee it will make you feel so much better. Out with the old and in with the new!

2020 New Year


Here we are, entering a new year plus a new decade. What’s on your mind? One thing for sure, the year will slip by quickly without any results if we don’t create INTENTIONS. Don’t let your coming year slip by without a plan. Let’s all make sure that joy and happiness are infused in each day of 2020!

Word of the Year

This is the word I chose for 2020. I don’t want to keep struggling upstream. I want to enter every decision I make and everything I do to have a smooth, flowing energy.
Did you choose your word for this year? Please share it with me in the comment section below.

two birds flying