Have you ever found yourself praying and notice yourself asking God to give you a chance to start fresh with something? Or found yourself wishing that you could re-do a conversation, a situation, a moment, a thought…life? I think it’s safe to say that we all have.
Luckily for us, the new year gives us that luxury. We get to sit down and reflect on what went well in a year and what things we’d like to work on. We have an opportunity to set goals or resolutions and decide how we want the next year of lives to look. We get to pretend like those bad moments never happened or learn a new way to cope. The pain we experienced the year before slowly begins to fade away as we put more time between us and what happened. But what are we really intending to learn?
God has always challenged me on the thought of resolutions. I’m flooded with thoughts and ideas of how different life could go for the next year and yet I find myself underwhelmed when I sit down to write down what I have planned. It begs to question, are we really getting a fresh start? Or are we just growing from the experiences we’ve had?
I’m not asking in a pessimistic, you can’t run from your problems, type of way; but in a are we really going to commit to changing anything about our life and ourselves? Twenty nineteen for me was one of the absolute most amazing years of my life and yet I still pained through the hardships of life and learning to improve myself every single day. The Bible teaches us that we WILL go through trials and pains and that we must allow the Lord to make us better than we were the day before. So what does that practically look like?
5 Practical Ways To Start Fresh This Year
- Spend time with God DAILY.
This one for some of us is incredibly difficult, for some it’s an age old practice and for others it’s brand new. So what does this actually look like?
You know the time you spend on the way to work or the movies with friends or the grocery store in your car? Yeah, spend that time with the radio off and just talking to God.
You know that time that you watch another episode of Netflix instead of doing anything productive? That’s right….spend that time with God.
We’ve been taught for years that spending time with God has to be this long drawn out experience, but the truth is…just like meeting a stranger for the first time…you probably don’t have much desire to spend hours with them. But slowly over time as you build that relationship, one awkward conversation at a time…you’ve built a best friend and someone that you can’t imagine doing life without. Works the same way with the Lord.
- Cut out at least ONE bad habit.
So this doesn’t mean stop doing everything right away. Psychology shows us that when we cut things off all at once that we’re addicted to, we have a higher chance of relapse if we don’t slowly ween ourselves off.
So take an inventory of your life and habits that you have. Prioritize them based on what bad habits you want to quit, and focus on number one. If you absolutely crush it and find yourself done with that one habit sooner than you though, start on the next one until suddenly you’ve gotten through the list. My number one is negative self talk.
- Increase at least one GOOD habit.
The opposite and more positively reinforcing fresh start, is the take a look at the things you do daily that you love doing and you know are good for you. Then prioritize which ones you love the most or you know are healthiest and work at cultivating that GOOD habit. Next thing you know you’ll be crushing the bad habits quicker while focusing on the positive habits you have. My number one good habit is daily prayer, even if it’s 2 minutes, I pray every single day of my life.
- Invest in your hobby.
I up and decided to release a Christmas album the last month of 2019 and suddenly I’m working on music almost daily, singing new places, releasing another album later this year, writing this blog and so much more. Taking the time to invest in something that I love lead me to doing even more of it.
Love swimming? Join a local swim team.
One of those wild people who actually enjoy running? Run a marathon this year.
Some people have told me they don’t know if they have a hobby and I always say “Anything that you find yourself drawn to as a source of relaxation or joy (obviously that’s good for you in some way) that’s your hobby!” You can find local clubs, online journals, chat rooms, Facebook groups, Instagram…all kinds of ways to invest in your interests. Statistically, people who have at least one hobby are proven to report more happiness in their life than those who don’t partake of any type of happy. As as our dear friends Elle Woods once said “Happy people don’t kill their husbands”….it may seem out of context…but trust me, it’s true!
- Clear your Calendar
As a self inflecting, recovering “yes man”, this one is incredibly important and I’m definitely preaching to the choir. My 2019 calendar was booked almost daily with activities that, to be honest, I mostly didn’t want to do.
While it sounds counter intuitive, clear your calendar of the things you don’t want to do, by scheduling the things you DO want to do. Then when someone wants you to do something you’re not interested in, you can honestly say that you’re busy.
What do I mean? I’ve gone into my 2020 calendar and scheduled times like “writing music”, “reading”, “time with Nick (my finance’), and any type of activity that I actually want to do. I of course still have the option to say yes if something comes up, but have an honest out of the things I don’t want to do.
There you have it; my way of making the best of a fresh start and focusing in on small goals rather than the overwhelming, never ending goals that we all know aren’t going to happen halfway through the year. My belief is that God wants us to be happy beings, full of joy and life. Sometimes that looks like taking more time to focus on US instead of everything around us.
I hope you choose joy this year.