The economy, weather patterns, and health risks can find us standing at the beginning of a new year with fear. One of the keys to turning fear into hope involves planning. Those who plan well tend to do well.
There are several things that you can do that will help to make your year better:
1. Enjoy good health. Since infancy we have been bombarded with education about good health practices but don't always observe them. Choosing nutritious diet will allow your body the fuel that it needs. Exercise, adequate sleep, dressing for weather conditions and striving for work/home balance will also improve both physical and mental health. My grandpa used to say "When you have your health - you can make your wealth".
2. Develop mutually-beneficial relationships. Often relationships are one-way and drain the time, energy and resources of one person who either burns out or blows up with time. This is a good time to evaluate the dynamics of your relationships. Are you "taking" from others or allowing them to use you in unhealthy ways? Do you need to correct things with an assertive conversation that includes forgiveness and establishment of new boundaries? Do you need to add new people to your circle of friends?
3. Enjoy financial freedom. You do not have to be wealthy to enjoy freedom. When you spend less than you earn, you will make steady progress in paying your debts and saving for the future. You may need to call your credit card companies to request a reduction in their interest rate or ask your employer for a raise in pay to speed the process. Taking personal responsibility for your financial state is more important than the balance of your bank account.
4. Enhance your career or mission in life. Instead of complaining about your job, perhaps you should consider re-training or move into another career. When you are spending many of your waking hours in employment, it is important that you enjoy what you do. It is never too late to learn new skills or begin a new adventure in the workplace. Volunteering not only helps others and builds your resume, but also can provide a great deal of satisfaction.
5. Improve the world around you. Rick Warren's book "The Purpose Driven Life" reminds us that "it's not about you". Consider how you can make a difference that will benefit others. Run for politics, give to charities, pick up litter, reduce your use of non-renewable resources, visit those who are lonely, provide childcare so a young mother can get a break, pray for someone who is ill. If you don't do it - who will?
6. Give thanks. Our world has many blessings and they need to be recognized. Like a stone thrown into a pond, your attitude will ripple out to those around you.
As we face a new year, we have an opportunity to think about the twelve months ahead of us. This is your chance to plan and commit to doing the things that will make them happy and healthy for you and those around you.