Adapting,  Living Abroad,  Living Abroad in Finland

Letters to a New Year (Claudia 2023)

Dear 2023,

After a break last year, we are back, writing our letters to the new year, and I have to admit that I have really enjoyed reflecting on past letters and thinking about where I want to be emotionally this year. I feel like the year went by very fast and very slow at the same time. A lot of things happened and developed over the year, and I have definitely learned a lot and grown even more. This year already has so many things planned (even in the first six months). That is why I am setting the following inspiration points for what is to come:


To dream big

I have a long history of not following the traditional paths and going with what feels right in my gut. It isn’t always easy and often causes me anxiety because I don’t always know if doing what feels like the right next thing is actually what I should be doing. Still, that doesn’t stop me from often deciding to do things that take me outside of my comfort zone or push me to take actions that others might avoid because they aren’t always easy.

I started the year with a practice that is like a vision board but what we call a “dream board.” Together with my partner in crime, we think about where we want to be in the future and write down dreams that we have. We make no rule about anything having to be realistic and, instead, just like to go with what comes into our hearts or minds as inspiration. I want to make dreaming like this a practice because even though we cannot always get what we want, if we don’t even think we can achieve it (read: we don’t try), it most likely won’t happen.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that I am expecting to get rich by winning the lottery but I am trying to get outside of my own comfort zone while dreaming, and I don’t want to be limited by other people’s expectations when thinking of my future. I know that is easier said than done because we are always influenced by those around us; however, thinking about and voicing my dreams can help me make them a reality, if it only helps me understand what I want in life and would have to do to make them happen. Then, I will slowly attempt to get closer to what I am dreaming of, poco a poco, one day at a time.


To be generous

This holiday season I have watched more than my fair share of cheesy holiday movies on tv and really enjoyed reflecting on how wonderful it can be to be kind to others. At the same time, I feel like most of us go about our daily lives without really taking others into consideration, even if it is something as simple as holding a door open. In 2023, I want to remember to be kind and generous to both those I know and those who just happen to cross my path.

This also impacts how I view the relationships in my life and hopefully will help me remember that something like a batch of cookies, an invitation to come over for dinner, or just a few kind words can have an impact on someone else’s day. I know that when people take the time and effort to do small things for me, it also makes a positive difference so I want to be a part of a world where I can also contribute in ways that make sense to me. And, it might sound counterintuitive but I also believe that being kind to others can also make us happier (for more unexpected insights into happiness, I can also recommend the podcast The Happiness Lab).


To enjoy adventures

There is a running joke with some of my friends and family that I consider life to be an adventure in itself. Of course, I do kind of look at life that way on a daily basis—a mixture of difficult things, challenges, learning, growth, excitement, and fun—and in the first half of the year we already have a few bigger adventures (think travel, moving, etc.) booked into it. For me though, I know that adventures can feel like a double edged sword because for all the positives, I know that I will face challenges and anxiety around the details that I feel need planning. This year will have a little bit of everything and just thinking about what I can start planning for (not to mention those things that I cannot plan for yet) is making me a little bit nervous.

I also definitely want to budget time and money for those unplanned adventures such as tiny weekend getaways, long walks in nature, or food with friends. So, in 2023, I want to make sure to slow down and enjoy the adventures, yes, even the challenges, anxiety and other difficult feelings. And I want to go a bit easier on myself along the way as well because I tend to be quite demanding of myself but, at the core, I am just learning as I go and trying to do my best.

Depending on the situation, this might look like not planning every detail down to the letter and leaving some things up to chance. Or allowing myself to spend a little bit more money or say “no” at some moments to make life just a little bit easier. I know it sounds overly simple, but I want to invest in the adventures themselves so that I don’t look back and realized that I didn’t do what I wanted to because I was too busy trying to save more money or saying “yes” to all the opportunities (and, like we know, saying “yes” to something always means saying “no to something else).

This also looks like being mindful of the situations I am in and being grateful for the journeys I am able to have. This year is planned to cover a lot of new territory for me and if I said I wasn’t scared of how it will all play out, I would be lying. However, I am focusing on taking deep breaths, planning what I can, and trusting that now is the right time. Afterall, if not now, when?


To take advantage of time with family and friends

I feel incredibly lucky to have people I consider family all over the world. However, many of them live far away and I mostly connect with them in virtual ways. With all the adventures this year, I have the privilege to meet some people in person for the first time in a long time and I want to cherish those moments. Of course, we won’t manage to hit every city (or even country) where people I care about live but I want to take advantage where I can.

And this also refers to friends and family at home (Finland). I want to make space to host loved ones coming from abroad and also those who live closer by. Depending on the decisions made this year (like where we want to live), I might not be as flexible with meeting up with people in my day-to-day life as I have been in the past. This means I am looking to become a bit more intentional with how I connect with those people I care about. In the end, though, I trust the relationships will remain strong and maybe even improve.


So 2023, I am expecting a big year, with ups and downs, adventures and quiet times. Mostly, though, I am hoping to enjoy what you bring and continue forward when it feels hard.

What are you dreaming about in 2023? Share it in the comments!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *