Anyone else thinking about the new year yet? Sure, it’s a little early for new year’s resolutions, but it’s a perfect time to put in some prep work and improve our foundations, so we can start the year strong and smash our goals!
As nature winds down and takes a rest each year, I think our minds and souls naturally do something similar. We start to slow down too, put the old behind us, and look towards a new beginning. It’s not that it’s time to give up on this year, but it’s an important part of this year; a time not to rush through or wish away, but to enjoy and use constructively. And if we use it well, it can help us get a really good fresh start when January comes around.
START YOUR MORNINGS WITH INTENTION
If we can’t start the day right, how can we start the year right? The first step to a better year is better mornings!
Create a constructive morning routine with helpful habits that will get your day started positively and constructively. This might mean getting up a little earlier to take some time alone, or it might just mean rejuvenating your existing morning routine. Make it as special as you can, so that you look forward to getting up for it each morning!
My favourite morning habits (coffee aside) are a short devotional podcast and a few minutes planning the day in my bullet journal. But I really benefit when I meditate and write morning pages (journaling) too, and I’ll be making more time for those things in my morning routine in the coming months.
Other great habits for a morning routine are prayer, reading, exercise and affirmations. Stay away from timewasters such as social media or scrolling the headlines! Use this time to centre yourself and set the tone for your day.
GIVE EVERYTHING A HOME
The clutter in our houses clutters our minds too, gives us more work to do, and can affect how we feel in our own homes. Decluttering a whole house can be an enormous task, but a great place to start is by sorting out all that stuff that doesn’t have a home: the bits and pieces that pile up on side tables, the stacks of papers, the surplus of coats and gloves, the broken things waiting to be fixed, the tools that gather at the back door.
So much of the clutter in our lives is an accumulation of things we never quite have time to deal with – and so much of the untidiness in our homes is stuff that we don’t put away simply because we don’t know where to put it.
Before you start digging deep and assessing your entire library or closet, just give everything a home. Get rid of those things that are never put away because there is nowhere for them to go – or make room for those things. It still might not be a small task… but it will drastically declutter your space and give you a good place to start from, whether or not you have greater decluttering goals in mind.
Food is a huge part of life. It provides the buildings blocks of all our health, and it’s a daily pleasure, alone or with loved ones. But much too often we are careless and mindless about eating, and it becomes just another thing on the to-do list – just another thing that takes up our time.
Yet without paying full attention to the quality and quantity of what we’re eating, we become out of touch with what it does to our bodies and how it makes us feel. We fail to enjoy it properly, and feel unsatisified. We eat more than we need and regret it later. If we don’t chew properly or taste properly, our bodies absorb less nutrition from the food. And our digestion often suffers if we eat when distracted, overstressed or on-the-go.
Rediscover eating mindfully, and you’ll naturally eat to better suit your body’s needs. You’ll enjoy your food more and feel more satisfied, and your digestion, weight and overall health will benefit. Remember, we eat three times a day, every day! If you’re looking for a more meaningful life, acknowledging the importance of your food helps provide a healthy and meaningful foundation.
TIPS FOR EATING MINDFULLY:
- Choose good food – the best food is delicious, nutrient-rich and sustainable: you may not hit all three every time but all progress is positive!
- Sit down for each meal without distractions – no TV or mobile phone
- Take a few moments to catch your breath and gather your thoughts before you start: consider giving thanks for your food in this moment
- Eat slowly and chew thoroughly
- Notice all your senses as you eat: enjoy the colours, smells, sounds and textures as well as the flavours
- Notice your thoughts and feelings while eating
- Listen to your body: eat only when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full
Starting to be more mindful in one area of your life can soon spill over into other areas too, so if mindfulness is lacking in your life this is a great place to begin!
START A GRATITUDE HABIT
Gratitude is the foundation of joy, the antidote to suffering, and the door to positivity. Learning to be grateful every day can turn bad situations around and unlock heaps of good potential in our lives and our surroundings. When you look for the good in life, you find it. When you look for the bad… well, you find that too.
Our culture encourages us to always desire more; to compare ourselves to others; to keep striving for more and more and to be better and better… The fact is anytime you’re unhappy, it’s because you’re focusing on what you don’t have, instead of on what you do have. Focus on what you don’t have, and you’ll find lack and scarcity. Focus on what you do have, and you’ll find abundance!
Preparing for your new year goals with a new gratitude habit can really set you up for success! It can help you have a better day, every day. It can improve your mood and your outlook, rewire your brain to be more positive, improve your self esteem and relationships, and help your mind and body to heal.
Daily gratitude can be part of a journaling habit, or it can be as simple as saying a prayer of thanks each evening, or jotting down 3-5 things you’re grateful for in your diary or notebook each day. If you don’t practice gratitude already, it will change your life.
“What a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”Marcus Aurelius
START A MEDITATION HABIT
Meditation is a wonderful tool for aiding clarity and focus; for decluttering our minds and for processing emotions; for clearing the way for creativity and productivity, and much more. Just ten to twenty minutes a day is enough to make a difference, and the effect is powerfully cumulative over time.
Meditation doesn’t require any special training or special conditions. You can do it anywhere at any time. I learned to meditate from Light Watkins’ brilliant book Bliss More. You can see a little of his teaching on Youtube here, or sign up for his 7 day Meditation Kickstart here. Or you could use the popular Headspace app.
START A BULLET JOURNAL
A bullet journal is a great tool for mindful living and staying focused on what’s important each day. It’s a cross between a diary, a catch-all notebook and a goal-planner and it’s endlessly customisable to your needs.
Learn more in my post here: Bullet Journaling for an Intentional Life
CHECK YOUR BUDGET
Are you in control of your spending, or is it in control of you? To start the new year in the best place to achieve your goals, make sure this crucial part of your life is in order now. Assessing your spending in the last year and setting up a budget for next will really help you get off on the right foot in January.
Sadly I am NOT qualified to give you any in-depth money advice. I will say, though, that I find the Money Manager App really useful for tracking my spending and setting a basic budget, and I highly recommend it.
CHECK YOUR TIME EXPENDITURE
Just like you considered where your money goes, have you tried sitting down and working out where your time goes? Time is our most precious resource, and it’s non-renewable. Money is renewable – you can always get more. Time is priceless.
Take a look at where your time has gone today, this week, this month… Are you satisfied with what you see? What would you like to spend more time on? What would you like to spend less time on? Knowing these things is crucial for taking control of your life and smashing your goals.
DISCOVER YOUR VALUES
Knowing what you value the most and what makes you unique is key to finding meaning in your life. It is crucial for knowing how to prioritise. Faced with any set of options, you can simply make the choice that most aligns with your values as an individual.
Once you know your values, it’s easier to to know how to spend your time and money; it’s easier to know the kinds of people you should hang out with and those you shouldn’t; it’s easier to find the right path forward. Knowing your values highlights what makes you the same as others around you and what makes you different. Knowing your values will help you find joy in every day, in tough times and in happy ones, and it will help you know what new year goals will really be worthwhile and add meaning to your life.
For more on how to discover your values, please see my post here: Goal-Setting in Uncertain Times: How to Set Goals When You’re Not Sure What to Aim For.
If you’ve followed these steps, you’ll have built a firm foundation for an intentional life in 2023. Your most precious resources will be under control and your environment in order. You’ll have key habits in place for a positive and focused mindset. And you’ll even have discovered what you find truly valuable and meaningful in life, and what needs to change.
You’ll be perfectly placed to make those new year goals when you’re ready. And you can be confident that they will be meaningful goals, tailored to you, which will help you move towards being the best version of yourself. So what are you waiting for? Position yourself for success starting now, and set those goals!
“The time will pass anyway. You can either spend it creating the life you want or spend it living the life you don’t want. The choice is yours.”Unknown
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Has this post helped you? Have you set your new year goals yet? How are you building a foundation for a more meaningful new year? Please let me know in the comments!