How to start off a new year (when you want to live simply)
Of course, this will be the week where you’ll see a thousand posts about how to make new year’s resolutions, why they work or don’t work, and why you should make it a goal to get in shape, or get more sleep, or drink more water, or whatever.
I’m not going to tell you those things. Quite honestly, I’m kinda on the fence about making resolutions on January 1—I appreciate the sentiment, but I know how seldom those resolutions are actually resolved. Sometimes, they merely serve as a catalyst for frustration when January 7 rolls along, and you’re already back to your Dr. Pepper-drinking, staying-up-too-late ways.
But I am in to: fresh starts, and I relish the bright-eyed, clean-feeling-in-the-air about a new year. I’ll take any excuse to spend time mulling over thoughts with a mug in one hand and a pen in the other.
Here’s what I’m about—easing in to things. There’s nothing magical about January 1, no matter how good it feels to tear away the December page on a calendar. I dig goals that are actually reachable, ideas that make sense for my stage of life and my circumstances, and covering all my plans with a smothering of grace.
There’s no reason to make a blithe resolution by January 1, as though there’s a due date for making your life better. This is also why I’m a big advocate for taking time to reflect on the old year before barging headfirst into the new one: you have a better idea of where you’re at in the whole journey of things. You’re clearer-headed about what particular goals (or resolutions, or whatever you want to call them) are best for you, right now.
I’m all for making goals—even big ones, the ones that seem insurmountable. But I’d rather spend the first few weeks of January recalibrating my compass to make sure I’m headed in the right direction, and THEN decide where I’d like to be by January of next year. I barely had a chance to wrap all my Christmas presents in December, let alone spend quality time in prayerful contemplation about the upcoming 365 days.
A bunch of well-intended, but ultimately meaningless, resolutions only complicates your life, and it sets you up for failure. You’ll burn out in no time. Your head will feel cluttered, and it may feel like you’re trying to live someone else’s life, aiming for someone else’s goals. Who wants to start off the year cluttered and complicated? Not me.
Start this year simply. Use these questions to reflect on last year, if you want, and then use these questions to make plans for this next year. Take your time. Sleep on your thoughts. Pray over them. Chat about big life stuff with friends or with your spouse.
And then, in a few weeks’ time, make a few goals. Maybe pick a word for the year. Or? Don’t. Simply relish in the clean slate of a new year, and see what it brings. There’s no one right way to start a year.
But don’t stress out over having big, lofty resolutions by January 1. Let’s start this year simply. Start it by listening, by reflecting, and by waiting patiently to find the right goals for your new year.
How are you celebrating New Year’s Eve? (We’re joining some friends for wine and live music, and then joining all our kids for a family-friendly countdown.)
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