The New Year is often the time we make Big Plans and Goals.
We decide this is the year we’ll lose 20 pounds (ok, maybe 10. or 5.). We’ll cut out caffeine completely. We’ll read quality literature instead of binge-watching Parks and Rec episodes. We’ll run a marathon.
It’s going to be epic.
Only, is it just me? I don’t find much success with setting crazy-big-important goals in January.
They usually make me cry before we even get to February.
Shame, fear, discouragement… Not really the way I want to start fresh in the new year.
What if there were some simple ways to bring joy to the New Year?
What if we didn’t try to change the whole world (or the whole year) this time…
What if we just choose to do one simple thing today to bring joy to our own lives and the lives of our neighbors…
Here are 19 simple suggestions for bringing joy to your New Year.
There is even a printable you can stick in your journal and check off through the year as you complete these ideas! (Those of you who are list-checkers like I am are pretty excited by that motivation.)
Maybe this can be a year of humble choices…simple decisions… “little drops of water / little grains of sand” … that (by the grace of God alone) may nurture love, peace, and joy in our hearts and homes!
Consider pursuing these humble, joyful goals in the New Year:
- Save at least 1 strand of Christmas lights when you’re packing up the holiday decorations, and hang them somewhere in your bedroom. Turn them on at night while you’re getting ready for bed or reading to add coziness to your day.
- Send an actual snail mail letter to a friend. It doesn’t have to be long or profound. Bonus: Include a pre-stamped and addressed envelope in this snail mail letter and you might get one back!
- Next time you’re at a restaurant or store and have good service, ask to speak to the manager. Tell them how much you appreciated the kindness of their employee. Everyone likes to complain to the manager. Be the person who gives an encouraging word.
- Read an unread book from your own bookshelf. Is there a book you own that you’ve always intended to read?
- Go outside on a sunny day. Stand still in the sunlight with your eyes closed for 5 minutes, breathing deeply. (5 minutes will suddenly feel really long. Go on. Keep breathing and soaking in the sun. Be still.)
- Memorize all the stanzas of a favorite hymn. (Sing it during your quiet time…or in the shower…or during morning time with the children…or at the dinner table…or while driving in the car! You might be surprised how quickly you can learn it!)
- Set the timer for 15 minutes. Fill a garbage bag with as many things you can declutter in 15 minutes. Set it in your vehicle immediately and drop it off at your local thrift store next time you’re out.
- Slip a note under your child’s door (or your housemate’s, or under your spouse’s pillow) listing 3 things you’re thankful for about them.
- Gather your journal (or a piece of paper) and your favorite writing implement. Set the timer for 10 minutes. Write whatever comes to mind. This might be things you need to do, feelings, ideas, or even “this feels really hard and dumb” comments. Some people call this a “brain dump” or “freewriting.” Notice the parts that make you feel uncomfortable…why do you think you feel that way?
- Write a favorite Bible verse in pencil on your bathroom wall beside the mirror or above your kitchen sink. If that is too scary, write it on a 3×5 card and tape it to the wall instead. I have written Philippians 4:8 (in very normal, imperfect handwriting) on the wall above my pantry door!
- Learn something new and outside of your comfort zone. You can read a book, listen to a podcast, watch a documentary, or attend a lecture…but stretch your mind and your interests!
- Go to the produce section of your grocery store. Buy at least 1 item you’ve never tried before, learn how to prepare it, and eat it!
- Bake chocolate chip cookies. Take half to a neighbor.
- Walk briskly, breathing deeply, for 15 minutes. If at all possible, walk outside. If weather or small children do not permit, walk up and down the stairs. If even this is not possible, walk in place. You can do this.
- Spend quality time praying for someone you know who is struggling, then send them a text or email to let them know you love them and are praying for them. We all need to know we’re not alone.
- What were some of your favorite songs in high school? Blast them up, belt them out, and host a family dance party in the living room. (Embarrassing your children is good for them.)
- Fill 8 glasses full of water in the morning. Drink them all before you go to bed.
- Next time you’re with a group of friends, practice **positive** gossiping. We all know how destructive backbiting can be. But what if we were the people sharing words that built others up, even behind their backs? Talk about how great other people are, even if they aren’t around! (Never participate in negative gossip that tears others down!)
- Set a repeating, monthly alarm right now on your phone. For example, it might be the 2nd Monday of every month at 9am. When that alarm goes off, go find all your children and give them a big smile and a huge hug!
I hope you are inspired to accomplish these simple, humble, joy-filled goals this New Year! They’re one-time goals, but you may find you want to keep repeating them!
May God bless you abundantly in this New Year!