Copyright: alex_star / 123RF

Copyright: alex_star / 123RF

New Year’s is one of my favorite times of year. Certainly living in the northeast, it’s not because of the weather, especially today! Despite the snow on the ground and the bite in the air, I find it a wonderfully hopeful time of year. When I look ahead, January so naturally feels like a new page, a new chapter with wonderful potential. It also offers the chance to put some things in the past. It’s a fresh start, a reboot, and welcomed motivation all at once.

Want to make the most of the New Year? Why not pull out a notebook and ponder these 5 steps to help you get the most out of 2016? Set aside some time over the next few days. Your thoughts and notes can become your springboard into the New Year.

1. Celebrate this year’s accomplishments and blessingsWhat went well this year? What accomplishments would make your year-in-review highlight reel? What successes do you have to celebrate?

For me, it’s been an exciting year of branching out. I joined Carol Kent’s team at the Speak Up Conference for a fabulous time of growth in Grand Rapids. I set out to blog more regularly and with a few exceptions here or there, I’m happy to say I did far better at hitting the mark this year than in years past. This fall I started a new job that I love. I also started learning Spanish in anticipation for a mission trip to the Dominican Republic next year. And, one of my greatest blessings was taking time to slow down and be with my dad, to appreciate him and even dance with him one last time before he left us. The priceless memories we shared make my highlight-reel for the year and will be always treasured!

2. Learn from this year’s missteps – What didn’t go as planned? Where did you stay the same, go backwards, or not make the progress you’d hoped to? Were there missteps or flat out failures left in your wake this year?

It’s not fun to look at our failures. But, when we take the time to review them honestly, they can become valuable lessons and firm stepping stones to success in our future. This year I’ve missed the mark with setting aside the amount of time I’d like to use for writing. My fingers haven’t had enough dedicated time on my keyboard to get the book ideas I have down. Working on one book idea, I have two more marinating in my mind. I log this as a lesson learned because when I’ve blocked off the time before a week begins, the results have been great. However, too often I didn’t block the time off and the weeks melted with what could have been. I’ve also slid in finding time for regular exercise and meal planning. As a result, I haven’t reached health goals that I wish I had. But, by sharing those and being honest, I know I can and will make changes for next year!

3. Refocus – What do you want for yourself for the next year? What personal or professional goals do you have for yourself? Are you hoping to be more active, be more organized, declutter, learn a new skill, or deepen your faith?

 “The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” – Bill Copeland

Identify your goals for the New Year. Then, write them down! Did you know that you are more likely to achieve them if you’ve put them in writing! Why not improve your chances of success and commit your goals to paper.

I will be creating goals for myself around improving my health, expanding my writing, and deepening my faith. Over the next few days I’ll be spending time making specific measureable goals for each of those

4. Make a Plan – What changes or steps do each of your goals require? What do you need to do so that you are successful? Create milestones for your goals to help you chart your course. What resources do you need to put in place to increase your success?

Give thoughtful consideration and create an action plan for the next 30, 60, and 90 days for your goals. Make your milestones achievable.

I’ll be focusing on the changes I want to make so that I can be successful in each area I shared in the refocus step above. I’m looking for ways to get active during the cold winter months. I’ve already started planning my writing goals as well. What do you need to do? What milestones can you achieve in the next three months?

5. Press Go. Start. – Don’t wait another day, start mapping your course to a better you today. I recently read a quote of Jon Acuff’s that any day can be January 1st. He’s right, you don’t have to wait until January 1st, or a Monday, you can start your new chapter right now.

Pray for direction. God’s got a plan for you and for your future. Reflect upon this past year. What has it taught you about you? Now use that to begin your journey to a better you. If you make a misstep in the New Year and fall off track, remember that any day can be a fresh start. Be empowered to learn from each step, course correct and press “go.”

I’m not looking at the changes I’m making as “resolutions.” I’m embracing my goals and committing to move ahead in the New Year with optimism and hope. Won’t you join me?

I’d love to hear from you, what’s something that would make your highlight-reel for 2015? What’s a goal you have for 2016? What will you do differently with your fresh start?

Happy New Year! I wish you and your family all the best in 2016!