For some people, the new year is nothing to get excited about. It’s just another flip of the calendar page, and not much different from any other day; that is, if you don’t count the endless football and possibly a hangover to nurse. But for most of us, New Year’s is an annual ritual we feel compelled to observe – saying goodbye to the old and ushering in the new with boisterous parties or quiet movie nights. After we spend some time looking backward – reliving fun memories, mourning those who passed away in 2018 – we are ready to turn around and face the future with hope and optimism.

What is it about a new year that spawns hundreds of blog posts and magazine articles, all variations of the same theme? Drop Those Pounds This Year! Begin a New Exercise Routine! Leave that toxic relationship, find a new career, clean out that junk drawer… most of these have a common denominator, and it’s negativity. Sure, the goals are positive and worth the effort, but they are all basically telling us that we need to fix something about ourselves. Whether it’s our weight, a bad habit, or a cluttered home, we are being told we have negative situations that we need to correct.

Let’s be honest, do we really need a stranger to tell us what we already know? Not me. I know my flaws and weaknesses better than anyone else and I am my own harshest critic. So this year I plan to avoid all those “Six weeks to a better life” articles. Instead, I want to be inspired, encouraged and emboldened. I will not spend so much time worrying about the things in my life that I wish would disappear. Rather I will spend more time adding things to my life that will bring me joy and satisfaction.

Don’t you love opening a new planner, or turning to the first blank page of a new journal? Those pages represent endless possibility! Every day, every week, every month of the coming year is a new opportunity to meet someone, try something, learn something or just do something different. Whether it’s tackling a new skill or taking a class, this could be the year you leave your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Just imagine how proud you will be, even if you fail! After all, even failure is a learning experience.

And then there are countless opportunities to uplift and give to others and make a positive impact on the world around you. From the neighborhood food pantry to global charities, there are so many volunteer opportunities you’re sure to find one that sparks your passion. Maybe this is the year you will finally restore that broken relationship that’s been grieving you or revive a friendship that took a back seat to busy lives. Could it be the year you adopt a pet from a shelter, learn more about your home town, or join a book club? Perhaps you’ll just smile more at strangers, finish an old project or try a new color on your bedroom wall. Seriously, the possibilities really are endless, and whether you go big or go small you’ll still enjoy the results.

I’ll share a few of my goals with you because then I’ll be more motivated to follow through: I want to upgrade my phone and master Instagram, grow my business, see more of my extended family and try to see people through God’s eyes instead of my own narrow focus. (That should result in me treating people with more patience, kindness and compassion). Let’s check back here in a year, shall we? We can compare notes and I’ll let you know how I did. Who knows, maybe along the way I’ll lose weight and clean out that junk drawer. But even if I don’t, it will be okay.