Every year over the holidays a nagging feeling begins to grow. We all start wondering how the new year will be our best year yet. We think about what kinds of promises we could make to ourselves or our loved ones that might help us succeed.
But, you know the drill. We make 12 resolutions to do this or that. But by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around we’ve failed at almost all of them in one way or another.
Well, how can this year be different? I haven’t the slightest! But I do know that there are some basic things we could all do to help every year be great.
Five Ways to Have a Great New Year
- Make no more than five goals. Don’t think of your resolutions as resolutions. We all know how we do when we resolve to do something… Instead, form goals. Don’t make too many or too few. Five seems about right. Don’t shoot too high, but don’t make the goals too easy either. I like to think of them as stretch goals. Imagine what seems doable, then stretch it just a bit. For example: your may have a goal to save 3000 dollars this year for a specific purpose. Great! That’s 250 bucks a month. So to stretch this goal just a bit, up your saving amount to 275 bucks. Then, each month, check in on your goal to see how you are doing. If you are able it would be good to find a person or two to hold you accountable to your goals also.
- Read at least twelve books this year. The average American apparently reads around 17 books a year. That seems like a lot! But it is encouraging to know that folks are still reading. So, here’s a suggestion: read one book a month. It doesn’t have to be huge. It doesn’t have to be one genre or another. And it doesn’t have to dovetail with your vocation, but it could. In fact, it might be good to alternate “useful” books with “fun” books each month. For me that would mean reading one biblical studies/theology book and then one fiction book. The purpose of this idea is not to just crowd your house or e-reader with more books. And the hope isn’t to make you look or feel smarter. The purpose is for all of us to be involved in some continued development and some stress-reducing downtime.
- Make prayer a habit. I’m not going to prescribe to you exactly how you should pray or exactly how often you should. But I will say that it’s highly doubtful that in 12 months from now you’ll regret having spent time in prayer. My wife and I have found praying together and as individuals each day to be helpful. You may want to do what we do or you may want to do something totally different. Either way, my encouragement to you is for you to pray and to do so often!
- Have fun! Would it be crazy to plan something once a month or so for the sole purpose of having fun? You may even want to do it more often than that! These fun things could be anything at all: taking an architectural tour of the town your live in; playing touch football in the park; going hiking; picking up a new hobby; throwing a party; attending a party; etc. You really could do anything. The point, however, is that if you plan to do something fun each month, then you’ll always have that to look forward to when things get tough (and we all know they will!). So, you have full permission to have a blast!
- Invest in your community with your time and talents. During the upcoming new year it would be awesome if all of us spent more time giving back. There are literally millions of ways that we could serve folks in our neighborhoods. Here are a few ideas off the top of my head:
- Contact the principal at your closest school and ask how you can help out.
- Find a local foster-care agency and see how you can be a blessing to the kids who are served there.
- Volunteer regularly at your church.
- Help kick start or continue a “beautify your park/town” initiative.
- Be a mentor or a tutor for kids in your neighborhood through local non-profits.
What do you think? What are some other ways that you can make the new year great? Let me know below!