3 Simple Ways to Start the New Year Over (Already?)

Friend, how are you doing? How’s the year going so far? I hope that your 2022 is off to a great start, but if you say “Nope, not so great,” I won’t be surprised. To be honest, at the moment, I’m feeling a bit down, because I had hoped so much that 2022 would be different. Instead, it seems to be more of the same things that we’ve been dealing with for almost two years. People are still getting sick, hospitals are still overwhelmed, schools are opening and closing, and small businesses that we love are struggling. It’s tiring and frustrating and more than a little frightening.

It feels as if our “regular” life took place on the top of a mountain, where life was sometimes good, sometimes bad, but at least a bit predictable. But now it seems like we keep sliding or falling off the mountain, into rocks, ravines, and crevices. With every new crisis – a loved one gets sick, a spouse loses a job, schools go virtual again, a new strain emerges – we start sliding down again, out of the sun that shines at the top and into the clouds that surround the mountain. It’s stormy and confusing, and most of the time we can’t see where we’re going.

On the plus side, lots of people are doing their best to help others get back up the mountain. And most of us keep picking ourselves up, turning around, and trying to make our way back to the top, eager to embrace some semblance of a normal life.

Maybe you feel like you’re sliding down the mountain too. And if you work in a field that’s been exceptionally hard-hit by the pandemic (teachers, medical professionals, service providers, front-line workers in many fields), or if you’re a parent of school-age children, I’m almost certain you’re feeling like you’ve crashed at the bottom and really can’t take much more.

The year is only a month old and I already need to start over. Maybe you do too.

If that’s the case, don’t be discouraged and don’t give up. (Easier said than done, I know.) Give yourself a lot of grace, but also take small steps to move forward on some things that will help you live with more purpose, better health, or more joy this year. If you want to give that a try, here are 3 simple things you can do to move in that direction: 

1. Pray. If you’re a person of faith, ask God for help. God loves you, is interested in you, and wants to help with the struggles you’re facing. This is hard for me, even though I believe in prayer. Because believing something in your head and believing it in your heart enough to practice it consistently aren’t the same thing. God is bigger than the problems we’re facing – pandemic, money problems, sickness, health worries, marriage problems – all of it. And, just as important, He cares about you and me – personally and individually. So if you’re worried and stressed and want so much for things to change, ask God to walk with you and guide you today, this week, and throughout the year.

2. Do one thing you really want to do. Maybe you decided that 2022 would be the year for achieving one of your goals or doing something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time. It was hard to pursue new things in 2020 and 2021, so maybe you hoped that this would be the year. (I certainly did.) But now it’s looking like 2022 (or at least the next few months) may be another year of struggle – frequently making your way up the mountain and then sliding back down.

But you can still do something that you really want to do this year. You may need to start small, maybe just working on one part of it. But you can start. And you can keep going. And you can make progress. 

Maybe you wanted to revamp your diet and start eating really healthy this year – but now that goal seems overwhelming. That’s fine, just start with one thing – pack a healthy lunch 3 days a week, prep fruits and vegetables for one hour on the weekend, cut out added sugar, or switch from soda to water. 

Maybe you wanted to start writing or pursue your artistic interests or start a business from home this year. But now those goals seem overwhelming. That’s fine, just start small. What is one small, manageable thing you can do that would move you one small step toward your goal? Figure it out, and then start doing it.

3. Do one thing to take care of yourself. Maybe you set some health or self-care goals for this year, but you’re already struggling to keep them. That’s fine. Until things settle down, do this instead – pick one thing that you know would improve your physical or emotional health and start doing it consistently. 

Maybe you know that getting 7½ hours of sleep every night would make you feel like a new woman. Maybe you know that taking a brisk walk every day would reduce your stress and clear your mind. Maybe you know that taking 30 minutes for yourself 3 or 4 days a week would do wonders for your mental health.

Whatever that one thing is for you, start doing it. Today. 

Even if it means that you need to set something else aside. Even if it means saying “no” to someone who would like you to say “yes.” Even if it means making someone unhappy or leaving something undone.

Because as wives and moms, we tend to put everyone else first and ourselves last. But that’s a ridiculous way to live (and I say that as someone who does it). First, because we’re daughters of God, not beasts of burden who exist only to serve others. And second, because when we take care of our own physical and emotional health, we’re better able to take care of the people who count on us.

So pick the one thing that you know would make the biggest difference in your physical and emotional health – and just start doing it. In spite of the crazy, falling-off-the mountain world that we’re living it.

Those are simple steps, but I think they can help if you feel like 2022 is already off track. I’d love to know how you’re doing and what kind of changes you’re planning to make this year – and how it’s going so far. Leave a comment or email me at [email protected] and let me know.

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