You know the feeling. The feeling you get when you hold a brand new book in your hand. One with no creases or folds. Or when you purchase a new sketchbook? With all those fresh, unblemished pages. What about a stark white canvas longing to feel the brush strokes of color to transform it from a flat space of emptiness into a work of art?
That’s how it feels at the beginning of a new year!
A new year is a chance to start fresh. A time to try new things. An opportunity to recalibrate.
It’s time to open the last gift of the season. The gift of more time. A gift that God’s given us to experience and share with others.
As I approach the new year, here are the questions I have—How do I make these days count? How can I balance productivity with being present and still fulfilling my calling?
I want to share with you ten steps I plan to take so I can start the new year with a plan while still leaving room for growth, creativity, and connection.
1. Write a Personal Action Plan
Jot down a few simple statements about where you want to be in a year and map out the action plan for those goals.
2. Schedule the Necessary
We all have them—necessary appointments.
Is there a doctor’s visit you need to schedule? Or a relational appointment you keep putting off because it’s hard to talk about difficult things?
Whatever it is, this is a great opportunity to set aside time and schedule those necessary appointments.
3. Map out a Spiritual Growth Plan
Nothing gets interrupted more than my quiet time. But nothing is more beneficial to my life than spending time in God’s Word.
Is this the same for you?
I like to take the beginning of the year to reevaluate my quiet time and see where I need to improve. Is there a one-year Bible plan I want to begin? Is there a specific book of the Bible I want to dive deeper into? Or a Bible study I want to join? Where can I be more generous with my time and talents?
Beginning this year with a heart poised to love others and seeking God is a great way to being anew.
4. Try Something New
Happy New Year! We all shout those words when the clock strikes midnight, then if you’re like me, you kiss your spouse, turn off all the lights, crawl into bed and enjoy a long winter nap under the warm covers.
But, have you considered the word NEW?
According to Merriam-Webster, new is an adjective meaning, having recently come into existence. Or my favorite—being other than the former or old.
This year I want to step out of my comfort zone and try something new!
What about you?
Have you been putting off that cooking class on the latest techniques of organic cooking? What about trying a beginning dance class? Pickleball? Yoga? Knitting?
Not everything needs to weigh down your budget. What about some free ideas?
Libraries offer free language lessons online and book clubs. Have you considered your friends and family? Do you know someone who grills a five-star steak? Or is proficient at changing a tire?
With 365 days ahead of us, there is more than enough time to try something NEW!
5. Plan a Break
Creatives need breaks. Whether it’s a ten-day cruise or it’s a stay-cation with my spouse, as I fill in my calendar, I’ll be to schedule times to rest and recharge.
6. Plan to be Present
Many things are vying for my attention. And if I let them, these diversions can rule my time and zap my creativity.
Are there interruptions invading your space? Distractions keeping you from being present and living in the moment with your family and friends?
This year, plan to live in the moment and gather memories you’ll cherish for years to come.
7. Map Out a Reading Challenge
Reading is a great way to expand your mind, reduce stress and wake up your creativity.
I think about the time when my kids were little and our bedtime routine included reading a book, or two—or four. They looked forward to the slow-paced time. So did I. I still get misty-eyed when I see the cover of The Giving Tree or Goodnight Moon and remember the sweet cuddles just before they drifted off to sleep.
Reading allows us to slow down and experience unknown worlds.
This year I’m challenging myself to sit down with a book instead of the news. To read in the waiting room instead of scrolling on my phone. To curl up with a cup of tea and a good novel as I get ready for bed instead of focusing on my to-do list for the next day. Do you want to read more this year? If you’re unsure of where to start with your reading challenge, check out my Books, Books, Books board on my Pinterest page for inspiration.
8. Practice an Attitude of Gratitude
Nothing can jump-start a new year, like having a grateful attitude.
Being grateful pulls the attention off ourselves and refocuses it on the blessings in our life, which opens the door to a feeling of contentment.
Why not start a gratitude journal with me? Plan every day to write one thing you are thankful for and at the end of the year, you’ll have 365 reminders of the blessings in your life!
9. Deep Clean & Eliminate the Clutter
We’ve all seen them, long cleaning lists to get your house in shape for the new year. Frankly, they overwhelm me. I enjoy a good deep cleaning but, let’s be honest, I’d rather be writing. (Finish the above sentence with your own I’d rather be—fishing, shopping, sleeping, etc. You get the point.)
While the new year is a great opportunity to plan a deep cleaning schedule, most creatives get sidetracked by—well, by just about anything. If I open a box of old photo albums, they’re all going to end up in a story.
Simplicity is the key.
Plan to dedicate one room per month to deep cleaning. Thirty days in one room to empty closets, clean baseboards, touch up paint, wipe down fans and wash the curtains.
Dig through a few old photo albums, call Aunt Mildred and ask about her cat, try on your letterman’s jacket, read a love letter, or crawl under the bed and make friends with the dust bunnies.
If you finish early, don’t rush to the next room. Instead, curl up with a good book (see number 7) and enjoy your clean room.
And finally, my favorite activity for the new year!
10. Develop a Habit of Creativity
Grab a new journal or sketchbook and make a habit of expressing your thoughts and feelings through creativity. At the end of the year, your expressions will provide an enjoyable walk through your year via your own unique and creative perspective.
Need some ideas? Here’s a list of ten winter-themed creativity prompts for writing, sketching, or photography.
2. Cabin in the Woods
3. Coffee Date
4. Candle in the Window
5. Sleigh Ride
6. Fireside Chat
8. Barren Tree
9. Grey Sky
10. Wind Chill
For a complete month’s worth of creativity prompts, check out my pinned post in January on my Facebook page!
As the new year beckons, I hope you take some time to turn the page and look expectantly toward the joy of untouched days!