New Year’s Eve probably looked a little different than it has in years past — instead of a big party to ring in 2021 it might have just been you on the couch and with Times Square looking like a ghost town you might have tried to watch one more episode of The Office before it was off Netflix forever.
And with how the last year went down, your resolutions might have changed too.
No matter how the world around us changes, the beginning of a new year means trying to add or subtract things from our lives that make a tangible difference — more sleep, less sugar, more books, less television.
We don’t just want to be one more list among millions of others telling you that you’re not living your best life now or the hustle isn’t going to wait for you because, frankly, that just sounds exhausting. (And more importantly, it’s not of Jesus.)
Now that we’re a few days into 2021, we wanted to suggest a couple of things that could be fun or rewarding or life giving. We know how busy you are, so why not try and take on a New Year’s resolution that only takes a tweak of the calendar and that truly enriches your day and helps you follow Jesus a little better?
Here are 21 things that I’ve personally done as a New Year’s resolution over the years that weren’t that hard to keep up. They aren’t big, grand, sweeping changes — but they were small steps in the right direction. Borrow one or two of them for 2021.
Put a small amount of money in an envelope every paycheck. It could be $10 or $20 or $50… but just do it. You’ll be glad you did a few months from now when something breaks down or there’s something you need to buy or there’s a charity you want to donate to.
Learn how to read the Bible better… and then do it. With millions of plans and ideas and strategies, there are countless ways to read the Bible more effectively. Pick one and do it. (We’ve even got some tips right here!)
Eat more vegetables. Man, this sounds corny (no pun intended) but it works! When I was in college my diet consisted of grilled chicken, pasta, and Diet Coke. Suffice to say, it was not my best season of life. But I started small, eating raw carrots every now and then as a snack. And then I went BIG TIME and ate a salad with a few meals. I started sleeping better and my clothes were fitting better. Who knew?!
Walk around your neighborhood twice a week. Or three times a week. Or everyday. Start small and work up to more. And take the time to pray or listen to music. Or just have it as a silent time to reset your brain.
Call an old friend once a month. Write it on your calendar. Reconnect with someone you don’t see everyday.
Learn the fundamentals of a musical instrument. This is especially good if you’re already playing one. Google the basics and start as though you’ve never sat down with it — learn guitar chords from scratch or single stroke drum fills or how to read a sheet of piano music.
Start recycling. We’re stewards here on this planet. It’s the least we could do. And if you already recycle this is like a free square in bingo!
Plan a date night now with your spouse or a friend. Whether it’s a ZOOM call or a board game night, schedule it now. I started playing Trivial Pursuit with my brother over video chat this summer and it was AWESOME. (It was also good to confirm that Mom was right and that I am, indeed, the smarter son.)
Create a Sunday agenda. The sabbath was made for man and not the other way around, right? Plan out what your Sundays look like and include things like prayer, exercise, or even a nap. Make sure every hour is accounted for so that nothing sneaks in or slips through the cracks.
Read more books. Notice how I clarified with “books”. You could be like me and read every day, but books are different from blogs or newspapers or magazines. Books tap into a part of your brain that digital doesn’t. And they can be about anything! I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy every autumn and it’s my favorite time of year.
Read more biographies. This is an addendum to the last suggestion but I’ve found it to be super encouraging to learn more about people who changed the world. Last year I read a biography about Roald Amundsen, a Norweigan explorer who was the first man to reach the South Pole. It ruled. I was inspired to start tackling things at work and in my own life that I previously thought were impossible.
Schedule a stay-cation. We’re probably not traveling much for at least the first half of 2021. Take a Friday or Monday (or both!) off from work or school and have a vacation at home where you can rest, relax, and reset.
Go to bed an hour early at least once a week. I typically go to bed around 10pm every night, but once a week I get in bed super early and try to fall asleep by 9pm. And that extra hour makes me feel like Mario eating a mushroom.
Have an Airplane Mode night. Once the sun sets, close the laptops and turn all the phones to Airplane Mode. That tweet will be just as funny in the morning. I promise.
Pray for one person every day. Say their name aloud. Ask God to help them or protect them or bless them with a new job or to open their heart to Him. It can be as short as 30 seconds on your drive to work. It can be about the same person every day. But just do it. Prayer works.
Go without television. This can be for a block of time every day or once a week or once a month — but taking television out and adding in a book or Scripture or a short time of prayer is going to be worth it.
Volunteer one evening every month. This may look different in 2021 as we stay in our homes, but you can still take time out of your schedule to help someone. Are you a writer? Offer to write someone’s resume and help them find a job. Are you good with numbers? Balance a non-profit’s books. Are you a musician? Teach a novice over video chat.
Put water and granola bars in your trunk.We wrote about this last month, but it’s an easy and practical way to always be ready when a homeless man or woman asks you for money to buy food.
Set up recurring donations to a local charity. This one takes less than five minutes and then it’s on auto-pilot. Another free bingo square!
Travel somewhere new. We might have a harder time getting onto planes and trains, but there are places to discover within your own city. Google some new places to take a hike or a lake you’ve never been to go fishing or a museum you’ve never visited.
Fast regularly. Jesus said when you fast, not if you fast. Commit to fasting one meal a week or a whole day every month. Doctors and nutritionists agree that regular fasting is actually good for the body! After all, self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Take the time you would have eaten that meal to read the Bible or pray for someone.
Again, don’t try and commit to all of these… or even half of these. Select just a few and really try to accomplish them.
As Theodore Roosevelt said, "Believe you can, and you're halfway there."
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