Looking for ways to have an amazing 2020?
It’s safe to say every new year, we look toward the year ahead and hope it will be our best year yet. And really, every new year can be our best year!
Each year God has equipped us with exactly what we need to face the things to come. Even if circumstances look bad, it can still be your best year yet as you make decisions that help you grow and be the best you you can be. A year of learning and growing is a good year. A year of loving others and taking care of yourself is a good year. A year of trying new things and settling into routines that work for you is a good year.
So, no matter what your life looks like right this minute, you are poised to have your best year yet in 2020. All you have to do is make healthy decisions even in the midst of what may look like craziness! And the good news is, you are in charge of your own decisions, so no one can hold you back!
20 Practical Things You can do to Have an Amazing 2020
Everything on this list has one thing in common – they are all about getting to the heart of who you are and finding ways to share that. It all boils down to making decisions that will lead to your growth and health, because when we grow and are healthy, we can love and receive love more fully; we can take each day in stride with joy and peace; we can learn from the past and smile at the future; we have grace for ourselves and others; we enjoy life, messiness and all.
So, here’s 20 practical things you can do to have your best year yet. They are in no particular order (as I think you will be able to tell). Do some of these or all of these. Pick the item or items that resonate most in your heart and run with it.
1. Set Goals
According to a lot of psychology textbooks out there, a good goal is one that is specific, measurable, and achievable. Some would add relevant to that list. I find setting yearly goals to be of great benefit. And don’t just think your goals, share them with someone and be sure to write them down and display them in a vision board. Take a look at where you are in life, and decide what you want to accomplish this year in your school or job, in your physical fitness, in finances, etc. and set measurable goals. And you don’t have to do this just at the new year. It’s a great practice for everyday life. Set goals for you months, weeks, and days. It will be sure to keep you on track and chugging forward.
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2. Set a Schedule
If you don’t run your schedule, your schedule will run you. One of the reasons so many people are stressed these days is because they let the day dictate itself instead of being the ones to allot their time based on what needs to be accomplished. Set yourself a schedule for each day. That doesn’t mean you have to get bent out of shape if something throws your schedule off. Instead, a schedule functions as a framework so you know you are in charge of your time and making it work for you.
Routine is another aspect of setting your schedule. It’s important to set routines such as waking up at a certain time, taking a certain exercise class weekly, showering and brushing your teeth before bed, and so on. Routines sound boring sometimes, but they give structure to our day, and structure provides a sense of security as well as keeping us on track. So, setting your schedule and routines is a great way to make everyday of the year a productive one.
3. Go to Bed on Time
Sleep is one of the most important yet most overlooked aspects of health. While you don’t have to be militant about a specific bedtime, it is important to be relatively consistent in what time you go to bed. Find out how many hours of sleep is ideal for you (everyone is a little different, so listen to your body), and then set your sleep schedule accordingly. Determine what the latest possible time you need to be in bed is, and shoot to settle down each night a couple of hours ahead of that time. Your body and mind will thank you.
4. Get Together with Friends
This one is really important and it’s something I’m looking forward to implementing in my 2020. Getting together with good friends is such an uplifting thing. When we meet with people that have the same values and who love and support us, we are propelled to new heights. Good friends encourage you, listen to you, and help you learn and grow. Make it a point to get together frequently with good friends. I see my sister several times a week (she just also happens to be my best friend!), and I also try to do something with other friends about once per week. This can be as simple as lunch or dinner after a church service (everybody’s got to eat!) or a girl’s night to see a new movie. Whatever it is, I find that my heart is always fuller and my spirit encouraged after spending time with friends.
5. Let Yourself Feel
This is another one I plan to implement for myself in 2020. A lot of times these days, we think the best thing to do is just keep pressing forward. Things are so fast paced that it’s hard to stop and allow ourselves the chance to feel. It’s good to cry and laugh. It’s healthy to reflect on your day or on things going on in your life. One thing is certain, there will be tough times ahead in life, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is not giving ourselves the space to process and feel. Sometimes we get so caught up in being strong that we miss the opportunity to love ourselves and grow in the midst of things. And this goes for the positive and the negative feelings! When’s the last time you allowed yourself the same level of excitement you had as a kid when you got to go to your favorite restaurant or see your cousins or go to the park? When’s the last time you allowed yourself a minute to cry when you hurt yourself or someone hurt your feelings? You are important, and your feelings are important. And trust me, it’s much better to give yourself a minute as things come up than it is to stuff emotions inside to resurface later. Value yourself enough this year to give air to your feelings in a healthy way.
This is a no brainer. But exercise isn’t just about looking good, it’s mostly about feeling good and taking care of yourself. Experiment with different types of exercise to find what works for you. There’s all sorts of options out there: cross training, running, yoga, dancing, group classes, team sports, you name it! No matter what type of exercise you choose, your body and brain will thank you. Exercise is a great stress reliever, and it’s one of the most important parts of a happy, healthy you.
7. Practice Mindfulness
One of the greatest things I have implemented in my life over the past couple of years is mindfulness. In essence, mindfulness is constant awareness. It’s a sort of walking meditation where you quiet your mind of all the chatter and focus on the moment at hand. Mindfulness is a more peaceful way of being, and it is backed by Jesus’s own teachings.
“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself…” Matthew 6:34
In our busy and fast paced world, we’ve lost a lot of the natural mindfulness of the day to day. Back when people walked everywhere, worked more with their hands, and weren’t bombarded with information from every direction, they had more quiet time to be present. Nowadays, we have to make a deliberate decision to be peaceful and quiet within ourselves even if the world around us is loud and busy and chaotic. Mindfulness puts the focus on the here and now, this moment and day God has created. It invites us back to the present so we can really live and enjoy all that God has for us right now instead of looking to the future or allowing our thoughts to run amok. If you choose to practice mindfulness in 2020, you will find yourself a much more peaceful and present person.
Some people are readers, and others aren’t. And that’s totally okay. The main point of reading is learning. Whether you devour a new book in a day or it takes you a month or two to finish a book, whether you prefer to read or listen to your book on audio, the important this is that you make space for learning. Another benefit of reading or listening to an audio book is that it creates focused quiet time. I find that reading calms me down and quiets my mind from the day. It helps me exercise patience and restfulness. It also gives me new perspectives on life. I’ve yet to meet a book that hasn’t offered me some new point of view that I haven’t seen before.
One thing with reading, though, don’t force it. If you force yourself to read just for the sake of reading, you’ll come to dread it. I have always been a reader, but up until about six months ago, I was on a reading-dry spell. I had to read so many books in college that when I graduated, I needed a sabbatical from it. Because I allowed myself that time off from my typical reading habits, I’m now back at it joyfully. Similarly, my sister isn’t a big fan of reading in general, but she does love to learn. So, she deliberately takes her time when she reads. She doesn’t rush herself or put unnecessary pressure on it. Find what works for you and go with that.
9. Spend Less Time on Social Media
It’s so easy, especially when we are tired, to jump on social media and just veg out. Or if you’re not on social media, you may find yourself spending copious amounts of time surfing the internet or watching youtube or Netflix. In any case, be intentional about setting the phone aside. If you find you are mindlessly scrolling or watching whatever show or video plays next, that’s a cue to step away. I am very deliberate about my time on social media and the internet in general because I know if I’m not careful I’ll spend more time than necessary and gain nothing from it. Decide for yourself what the point of having social media is, and then be intentional with your time on it. If you have trouble limiting yourself on your devices, consider a full-on media fast. This will help you purge yourself of the need for scrolling and will give you a chance to consider your priorities. No matter what, like with anything else, intentionality is the name of the game with social media. While it is a part of our world today, it doesn’t have to run your life. You decide.
10. Learn or Try Something New
I highly recommend implementing this in your new year no matter what. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but it’s so important to take the time to stretch yourself and grow. This past year, I tried yoga for the first time, and it’s now my favorite form of exercise. I was sure I wouldn’t enjoy it because of the pace (I normally enjoy faster paced exercises for my naturally quick-twitch muscles), but I’m so glad I was wrong because yoga has brought a whole new element of health to my body.
Consider something you’re interested in or curious about and go for it. Even if you try something and find you don’t enjoy it, at least you tried it, and you will have learned something about yourself in the process. The main point of learning or trying something new is to tap into a different part of yourself that perhaps you haven’t explored yet. It’s fun to discover new and interesting parts of ourselves.
11. Travel – even if not far
Traveling seems to be very chic right now, especially with social media involved. But there really is a lot of good in traveling. I find that after a trip, big or small, I have gained some sort of new perspective and am refreshed to get back to my day to day life.
A trip or vacation doesn’t have to be to some far-off land to be worthwhile. One of mine and Victor’s favorite things to do is take a day trip to Savannah, GA which is just a couple of hours from our home. Sure, we enjoy our big trips to Banff, Alberta and similar places, but a change of scenery every once in a while is really all that’s needed. You don’t have to break the bank for a lofty vacation to enjoy the benefits of traveling. Explore a town or city near where you live. Or even spend the day as a tourist in your own town and explore areas you’ve never been to. The main thing is, give yourself a break from the day to day routine and from the same walls and places you visit so often. It’ll leave you happy and rejuvenated to return to everyday life.
12. Take Care of Yourself
This sounds so generic, but that’s because we all take care of ourselves in different ways. For some, taking care of yourself may look like taking a nap after work or going for a quiet walk in the evenings. For others it may mean getting your nails done periodically or investing in something that you’ve wanted or needed for a while but haven’t allowed yourself to get. Your needs are important. Imagine if you were facing a friend or loved one who wasn’t taking the time to care for themselves. You would tell them they are worth the time, tell them they are valuable. It should be the same way with ourselves. Taking care of yourself comes in all shapes and forms, but it all boils down to valuing yourself enough to give yourself what it is that you need when you need it.
13. Get Outside
This is pretty straight forward, but even for a homebody like myself, it’s important to get outside and soak up the fresh air. It’s really incredible what a few minutes in the sun can do for your soul. Especially if you work a desk job, it can be hard to find time to get outside. Take five minutes of your lunch break and walk out to your car and back or around your office building. If you are in school, use time between classes to step out to a courtyard for a minute or two or spend time after classes outside. Taking a break outdoors really brings you back to reality when staying inside all day can put you in a fog. Run an errand, go for a walk, or sit in your backyard for a few minutes. The rejuvenating affects are worth it.
14. Spend More Time (and higher quality time) with God
This is a no brainer really, and I think it’s something we all long for. But even as I say this, it’s important to note that more time with God doesn’t necessarily equate to quality time with God. As you look to spend more time in communion with the Father, be intentional. Allow the increased time with Him to be spent in seeking to hear His voice be that through reading His Word, prayer, or sitting quietly in His presence with no agenda. While we don’t want to force ourselves into time with God, it takes discipline to meet with Him each day. Add quiet time to your routine and stick with it. If you know when and where you will spend your time with God, you will be much more likely to follow through.
Not sure how to spend time in God’s presence? Find a good devotional to help guide you. Bring your cares and worries to God in prayer and allow for quiet space as well to open your spirit and listen to what He may be speaking to you.
Above the amount of time spent is living in a posture of awareness of the presence of God wherever you go. A relationship with God isn’t a to-do item; it’s just that, a relationship! Stay in constant communication with God by turning your heart towards Him. In all reality, my time with God in the morning is the starting point for my time with Him all day. The focus of my deliberate time in His presence is to set my spirit on Him and to set myself up for a day lived following His Holy Spirit’s guidance instead of my own fleshly inclinations. If you utilize your time with God in this way and allow the awareness of His presence to stay with you all day long, you will find your relationship with God significantly strengthened this year.
15. Get Organized
Now there’s no way I can tell you exactly what you need to do to get organized in this little segment, but I’m sure I’ll share some key organization tactics in a later blog post. There are so many areas of life where we can get organized. Maybe you need to organize your closet, organize your desk, organize your kitchen, organize your files on your computer. Whatever it is, the longer you wait to get organized, the worse it will be when you actually decide to get organized.
Don’t feel like you have to tackle everything at once, though. If improving organization is your goal for 2020, take it in bite sized chunks. Choose one item a week to get organized. As you organize, be sure to decide on a system that works for you. Sure, it may look nice to have the towels on the top shelf in your linen closet, but is that practical for day to day life? Consider the practical as you get organized. Afterall, that really is the point of organization – to make your life more efficient and your items more usable. When there is order in your environment, it brings a whole new level of peace of mind.
16. Make a Change
We all have areas of our lives that we would like to change. Or maybe we just feel like we need a change but don’t know exactly what we want to change. Either way, take the time this year to make a change. Change and variety are the spice of life. It keeps us on our toes and makes things interesting. That’s why some people get a new haircut or change their hair color. Change is good. If you’re not up for a big change in your life, consider something small like changing up your order at your favorite restaurant. Or maybe you want a big change. You’ve been at a job you dislike for a while and want something new. Take the steps needed to make that change. If you are looking to make a big change, talk to people you trust beforehand and get their advice and support. Change isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it more often than not.
If you’re looking to add purpose to your life this year, consider volunteering. There are loads of options when it comes to volunteering. Find a cause that is close to your heart and look for opportunities to give your time. A great place to start is at your local church. Most churches have opportunities to volunteer not just within the four walls but also in the community. Other options to consider are your local homeless missions, foodbanks, women’s services, after school programs, and more. Whatever it is, find something you are passionate about and give of your time and talents. It will bring a lot of joy to yourself and to others and will fill your life with meaning and purpose this 2020.
Along the same lines of volunteering, giving of your finances is also a great step to take in the new year. When we are blessed, it is a blessing to in turn bless others. If you are not already tithing in your local church, this is a great place to start. If you are already tithing, consider other options for giving, as well. There are great missions like Compassion International that need sponsors for the children they care for. Victor and I love giving to Compassion because it’s consistent and we know our money is going to good use because the organization has proven records that show the vast majority of proceeds go directly to the child you are sponsoring while the rest goes to keeping the organization running.
” Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. ” 2 Corinthians 9:7
When we give, we are sowing into the lives of others, and there is no doubt that God blesses us back for our giving. Giving is part of being a good steward of what God has entrusted us with, and it’s a great way to begin spreading His love in the new year.
19. Be Creative
I might be a little partial to this one because I am a creative by nature, but everyone has some sort of creative bone in their body, and creativity is one of the best forms of self-expression. Consider starting a journal or diary, sketching, making music, or even refinishing furniture. Other activities like cooking and home decorating are also creative. My sister recently made blankets for everyone in the family for Christmas, a unique and useful form of creativity. Whatever route you take, fully engage yourself in the creative process. It’s a great self-discipline to give yourself the space to be creative because it requires vulnerability. When you decide to be creative this year, you will discover new parts of yourself you may not have discovered in will be teaching yourself and growing as you go.
20. BE YOU
Above all else, whichever or all of the above steps you decide to take in the new year, commit to being YOU! You are the only you that is here on this Earth, and we need you and all you have to offer. If you do nothing else this year but be yourself completely, you have done enough. Allow yourself the space to discover yourself again. Return to the things you loved when you were little. Be unashamed in sharing your gifts, talents, thoughts, and opinions. You have so much to offer this year and every year. We are all much better off because you are here!