By Karen Whiting, Crosswalk.com
Most people want to believe this year can make a positive difference in our lives. That depends on the choices we make and the plans we develop and act on. It also depends on circumstances out of our control, such as natural disasters, inflation, the job market, and more. We can do our part to make the year better. We also want to keep what’s been good, such as the blessings of friends or family. Embrace the possibilities of the New Year, including keeping the good and making positive changes in one area at a time.
2022 had its own impacts. I live in Florida, where many people suffered terrible losses in 2022 from hurricanes. I came out with insignificant damage, but I know that if the paths of the hurricanes had been different, I could have been severely impacted as I have been in the past.
We all faced higher prices without much higher pay. Some will have more income due to cost-of-living increases that might help against inflation. We all watched another election that flipped one house, changed many school boards, and had outcomes that some liked, and some disliked. Those results will impact the laws we will have to live with this year.
Most of us had the blessings of loved ones, a home, transportation, and money. We may also have spent time blessing others and giving from what we had. Those activities bless us too. We should be grateful for all our blessings and let them give us hope for future blessings.
We can change our attitudes and responses and make new choices in the future. Some choices are limited by our time, money, abilities, or education and credentials. We can change those limits with long-range plans. Let’s start where we are now.
Embrace the future by letting go of past heartaches, worries, and things you cannot change. That includes forgiving those who hurt you, realizing you cannot change other people, and accepting what things cannot be undone. List what caused hurts, worries, and problems; let each one go. Grief is a process, so accept that if you are grieving a loss, allow time to get through it, and pray for God’s help.
Learn from the failures by taking time to note what went wrong and what could have helped. Just do this to create a list of actions that can help move things forward.
Know Your Options
Faith, time, money, and ability are the basic tools we have for planning the future and making changes.
-List your time and what is already allocated for work, relationships, and decisions. Note what free time is left.
-List your finances and what is left after allocating money for bills and living expenses. Note what is available to save or spend.
-List your talents and how you are using them. Note what talents you want to use more and what skills you want to learn to add to your abilities.
-List what you put into exercising and growing your faith. How has that blessed you?
That should show you what resources you have to make new changes and invest in your future. That can also give you an idea of what resources you lack.
-If it’s time, you can make a few choices to change that, or you may have to wait, such as children growing or caregiving easing up.
-If it’s money, you may have to tighten the budget, add another revenue stream, work on paying off debt, or seek grant money and fundraising to make new choices.
-If it’s talent, assess your abilities and ways to develop new abilities or increase knowledge.
-If faith is very low, you can add minutes of Bible reading, prayer, and other faith activities.
Choose Your Attitudes
Check how you respond to a new day, the people in your life, and your activities, including work. Do you have positive attitudes or possibly some or many negative attitudes? Situations are often out of your control, but you can choose to face challenges with energy and hope or joy and trust God to help you remain positive.
Understand your attitude choices in a range of areas.
Relationships include people with whom it is easy to get along and ones who are more challenging. We don’t have to hold onto negative input. We can seek to understand the personalities of those around us and realize that their own hurts and past may cause them to be negative, manipulative, or controlling. Understanding people helps us accept and forgive their faults easier without internalizing their words or taking on their problems.
Activities and work can stress you out or bring you joy. If there’s too much stress, you can let go of a volunteer position but need to hold onto a job while applying for a new one. The more significant choice is to lessen stress. This might be with a more positive attitude, discussing what can be done to lower stress, or choosing to be grateful for what you have and joyful despite the stress by focusing on God.
Check your own words and tone to be sure you are kind and encouraging. Cutting words and attitudes can cause people to avoid you. Uplifting words and actions build great relationships, so aim to be positive with words and be a peacemaker.
Add Reading to Your Year
Choose a Bible study or reading plan to stay connected to your faith. Also, choose a few books that will help you learn how others helped bring peace, such as Prince Albert, who was the first to bring people together in peace to share about inventions and innovations, and Fred Rogers, who shared how to be a good neighbor, and Conrad Weiss who worked at bringing harmony between Native Americans and colonial settlers.
Choose What to Change
After evaluating the options and listing dreams, set a goal for the one you most desire or the most attainable. If a goal seems impossible, break it down to the doable first step. Then set steps to reach the goal or step toward the goal. The steps will be a combination of what you can work on because you have the time, money, and resources needed and ones that require getting the resource needed, such as more time or money.
Avoid trying to make lots of changes. It is easier to work on one change at a time and focus on what one step is most needed for that change to become a reality.
Choose Adventure, Too
Whether you volunteer, choose new activities for vacations, or simply explore something in your area you’ve never tried, add some new fun to your life.
Choose to Embrace Blessings
List your blessings and focus on expressing gratitude for those blessings and the people who enrich your life. Plan to invest time to keep those blessings flowing. Set dates to get together with loved ones who enrich your life, schedule time for what you enjoy, and also schedule time to review plans and choices you make for the year.
Karen Whiting enjoys family and works to move forward on her goals. Her newest books Growing a Peaceful Heart help people choose peace and discover peacemakers of the past, and Growing a Mother’s Heart Bible Study to make the most of mothering. Take her mom quiz for lots of freebies.
Karen Whiting is a mom, author, international speaker, writing coach, and former television host who loves sharing ideas to strengthen families. She has written Growing a Mother’s Heart: Devotions of Faith, Hope, and Love from Mothers Past, Present, and Future and 52 Weekly Devotions for Family Prayer, which includes a different way to pray each week plus stories and activities to explore questions children ask about prayer. Her newest book, Growing a Joyful Heart co-authored with Pam Farrel, shares stories that show how to have inner joy, more joy in relationships, choose joy in all circumstances, and become a joy-giver. She loves adventure including camel riding, scuba diving, treetop courses, and white water rafting plus time at home crafting and baking.