As we anticipate the new year, we often make lofty resolutions or set impossible goals. But sometimes small, thoughtful actions can reap wonderful rewards. Here are a few simple ideas on how to make next year a great one:
1. Smile. A lot.
2. Ask someone a question about their life. Be genuinely interested.
3. Don’t waste time or energy thinking about things you can’t change.
4. So everyone has a bad day. Find perspective and choose joy.
5. Study God’s Word. Simply reading it isn’t enough.
6. Open your mind to a different type of music. Try classical, jazz, or hymns.
7. Try something new and interesting this year. How about painting, photography, ice skating, gardening, camping, baking, running, or learning to play an instrument? The ideas are endless. And, for goodness’ sake, stop telling yourself you are too old to try something new!
8. Read a book that goes beyond boy meets girl. Read something that will deepen your understanding of humanity.
9. Find ways to serve others. Don’t waste your time, energy, or money trying to impress them.
10. Turn the TV off. Only turn it on if you know specifically what you are going to watch. Make a rule never to turn it on while your family is sharing a meal together.
11. When someone says something hurtful, don’t defend yourself. Just walk away.
12. Listen to someone’s point before jumping in with your own opinion.
13. Make a budget and stick to it.
14. Only eat when you are hungry.
15. Pick one area you would like to see changed in your life and pray about it daily. Watch God work. He may change the circumstances or He may change your attitude.
16. Don’t try to change people. Instead inspire them.
17. Stop hedging and tell the truth.
18. Visit a museum and take the time to read the displays and increase your knowledge of the world around you.
19. Appreciate the ordinary moments. Life can change in a heartbeat.
20. Train your mind to gloss over real (or imagined) offenses of the past, whether they happened 5 years ago or 5 minutes ago. Grudges aren’t beneficial to anyone.
21. Develop a relationship with an elderly person. We can learn so much from their experiences. Don’t be so arrogant to think they couldn’t possibly understand you or your predicament. Life hasn’t changed that much.
22. Remember that every choice has a consequence.
23. Think before you talk.
24. Think before you act.
25. While you are thinking, ask yourself these questions: Will this glorify God? Will it encourage someone? Is it necessary? What will be the consequences of these words or this action?
As I was writing this list, I realized that there are some changes that I would really like to implement. However, it almost feels impossible to make a permanent change. But perhaps, instead of seeing the looming, overwhelming need for a permanent change, we just think about the next 24 hours? Which of these can we work on today? And then do the same thing again tomorrow. Before you know it, a year has gone by and we have changed.
Can you think of other ideas I should have added to this list? I would love to have your input on other changes we can all make that would make 2012 a great year – for ourselves and, more importantly, for those around us.