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The Most Joyful Things About Starting a New Year

New Year’s is a divisive holiday. On the one hand, you’ve got people who love all of the fanfare. They stockpile champagne, shop months in advance for the perfect sequined dress and seem to have endless supplies of confetti and noisemakers. They love the party as much as the fact it’s a new year. They get to start fresh on their personal goals and figure out the best ways to achieve them.

Then, of course, there are people like us. Moms, perhaps. With toddlers. Where the idea of staying up past 10:00 PM is enough to turn you off – but then you need to be social and at a party. Please.

That attitude defined me until I realized what joy a new year can actually bring. Regardless of how much I would rather spend every New Year’s Eve at home, in my PJs, and asleep before the ball drops – the truth is that the opportunity for a reset is something I really quite enjoy. In letting January 1st serve as my starting line, I’ve accomplished so much more in a calendar year than I ever thought was possible.

To show you just how much good can come with a new year, I’ve put together the following list of the three most joyful things I’ve discovered by embracing my annual fresh start. Here they are:

A Fresh Calendar – Literally

I’ve already waxed poetic about the restart that comes with starting fresh every January 1. But one of my new favorite things to do with the start of each year is to get a new agenda and plan the days, weeks and months ahead.

Again, I’m no expert, but there are some easy ways to become a pro planner. Start by consolidating all of your to-do lists and important dates into a single calendar, either print or virtual. Many of us make the mistake of storing half our to-dos on a smartphone calendar while scrawling the rest on a Post-It. This method is clearly not going to help you remember everything you have to do.

Instead, start your year by buying a new agenda — bonus points for a cute one you look forward to filling in or one with a special health or fitness section. Write down your loved ones’ birthdays, your training seminars for work, your scheduled vacation time, your kids’ basketball schedule — whatever it is that’ll help you stay on top of the year ahead, write it. You’ll add to it over time, of course, but getting started now will set you on the right track for the rest of the year. Seriously, it has changed my life.

A Moment to Reflect

I never thought of myself as someone who thrived with reflection. I’d read about the many benefits of doing so, but had I ever actually sat down and thought about the themes of my life? Not really, no.

But last year completely changed all that as I started the year and found myself facing questions about God with my toddler. And I didn’t really have any good answer. Upon further reflection, I found myself coming to terms with the fact that I wanted something more. With that, I began a few months’ worth of introspection as I figured out what would be next for me, a newly minted reflector and resolutioner.

By the start of this year, I’m on the path to being baptized into the Roman Catholic Church. A deeply personal decision I’ve reflected on for years brought on by a few sweet questions from my darling daughter. Perhaps just as important though, is how I’ve realized just how important those moments of introspection were. I don’t care how you find time to reflect, or what methods you use to delve deep. For some, it’s meditation that works best. For others, it’s journaling or even professional therapy. There are plenty of methods, but just promise me you’ll do it.

In the end, setting aside time to yourself at the start of the new year will only serve you well. For me, it’s one of the very most joyful parts of my January and beyond.

Bettering Me – No Stress Required

One of the things I used to despise — and, honestly, continue to despise — about a new year is that there’s this expectation to adopt a completely new lifestyle. I used to feel pressure to eat differently or work out tirelessly to stick to my fitness-centric resolutions that I never really wanted, but felt I needed because of society around me.

In a perfect world, food and fitness brands will one day catch up with me and realize that lots of people are happy as they are — we don’t need non-stop commercials about gym memberships, weight-loss supplements or home workout devices at the start of the year. But, for now, I choose to focus on making myself better on my own terms, rather than the rest of the world’s apparent terms.

I’ve already told you two of my tried-and-true methods for achieving this state of mind: planning and reflecting. But the rest of my feel-good motivation shifts as the years come and go. In the end, I want to better myself as much as possible, and each calendar presents a new set of challenges for me to overcome. Last year, I tried to improve my cooking skills so that I could feed myself and my family heartier, healthier fare. This year, I’m getting back into scrapbooking simply because it’s something I love doing.

Everyone’s definition of self-betterment will be different, but don’t let the New Year’s trends guide you unless that’s what you want. Instead, find what you want to improve and do so on your own terms.

Happy New Year, Emphasis on the “Happy”

So, with these three tips in mind, I hope you’re able to find your own version of the Happy New Year I’ve had recently. Who knows? Next year, you might find yourself slipping into a sequined outfit and throwing a handful of your own confetti as you, too, look forward to the fresh start ahead.

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