I love December for many reasons. Of course, I enjoy the holidays — the festiveness that comes with decorating and parties, the joy that comes from giving, and the feeling of community and togetherness.

But December is also packed with possibilities and hope for the New Year. And I know I’m not alone in this. Sabrina Espinal posted a similar thought in our (newly revamped and relaunched!) Bonfire community this week. The start of a year gives us another opportunity to right our wrongs, succeed where we’ve failed, do more (or do less), and be better/smarter/happier/richer than we’ve ever been before.

December goes by quickly, though. Too quickly. And often, we find ourselves in the middle of January without having an idea about how we can actually make the New Year our “best year ever.”

Goal setting (not resolutions!), is a huge part of this, and I will be writing a week-long series on goal setting for About.com during the last week of the month (subscribe to my About.com blog here). But gearing up for 2012 is more than just goal setting. It takes awareness and clear intentions, and it’s this consciousness that I consider the unwrapping of a New Year. Here’s how I plan to do it.

Live in the Moment

Remember as a child, when you had a wrapped gift in front of you, you would almost bubble over with excitement as you anticipated what was inside? Most of us just desperately wanted to rip off that paper and get to the gift. But when our parents made us slow down, the anticipation survived and grew every moment we had to wait.

December is like waiting to open a present. Instead of rush, rush, rush to Christmas, the New Year and beyond, I am going to live in the moment, let the anticipation build and revel in the unknown. I am going to enjoy the gift before I even know what it is.

Reel-In Expectations

OK, back to getting gifts as a child. How many times did that anticipation of opening a gift result in really out-of-whack expectations? Of course, you knew that the small (and quiet) 8-inch wrapped box in front of you simply could not be the puppy you desperately wanted. But the longer you waited, the more your imagination kicked in and your expectations grew. And we all know what happens when we expect too much — we are often disappointed.

It’s easy to get carried away when you’re in anticipation mode. Waiting and patience can make people crazy. Part of my unwrapping process this year will be to keep my expectations in check and rooted in reality. And I am going to fight my subconscious desire to reach perfection and simply accept the gifts I am given.

Give to Someone Else

For me, the best part of unwrapping gifts is seeing someone else do it and the pure joy they experience. It’s true — watching my kids open their gifts is easily my favorite part of the holiday season (the four weeks of nagging to open the gifts, not so much).

I feel the same way when it comes to the New Year. Yes, I can make my year successful and exciting and enjoyable, but the true gift is helping someone else do the same. How will I do that? By continuing to support fellow small business owners in the Bonfire community, keeping this blog packed with useful and actionable information, and thinking beyond myself and my needs.

If I’m successful in doing that, I believe I will unwrap 2012 and find it to be better than I ever imagined.