By Lara Krupicka
10…9… 8. Across the globe the last seconds before midnight on December 31st draw people together to follow the tick of the clock. The collective countdown heightens our anticipation. It culminates our celebrations. And it anchors us in the transition from old year to new.
Why not bring that same sense of anticipation into the hours and days past midnight by looking ahead to how you want to spend the next twelve months. Count down from ten to one the plans, intentions and activities that will make it the year you hope for. Check out the prompts below for ideas to start your countdown.
Create a list of ten new date night activities or destinations you want to pursue with your spouse in the coming year. You could format it as a passport book listing each of the ten options on a separate page. Then stamp or write the date on the activity’s listing when you complete it. For suggestions, check out the book Take Your Marriage from Good to Great One Date at a Time by Steve Pare.
The holidays can be a great time to catch up with those we don’t see often. But instead of waiting until next December for a frenzy of socializing, spread the good times out across the year. Scan your contact list or Facebook friends roster for nine people you would like to see face-to-face. Then make a plan for contacting them to arrange a meet-up. Your list may even spur a road trip (see number 6).
Are you sleep deprived? Carving out eight hours each night for sleep could be one of the best moves you make for yourself this year. According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep has an impact on your immune system, mood, cardiovascular health, appetite, stress hormones, reasoning, problem solving, and more. If a child’s sleep challenges prevent you from catching enough z’s, sleep expert Malia Jacobson has resources for parents on her website, maliajacobson.com.
Declutter your house by collecting seven items to give away. If that does not make a dent, collect another seven to throw away. Repeat this activity on a room-by-room basis for further deep purging. And if you can engage the whole family in contributing, you could amass enough for a garage sale this spring.
Gather ideas for six family outings you dream of taking together in the year ahead. Make it a goal to go on bi-monthly excursions. Or use the summer months to complete all six. Look for local attractions to explore your home region. If you’re anticipating a road trip, choose activities and outings to coincide with your vacation plans.
Consider five of your strengths or skills. For each, brainstorm one new way you can put it to use, whether to improve everyday life or to contribute to your job or an organization you belong to. By doing so you create a win-win as you sharpen your skills and make an impact on others.
Bob Goff, author of the bestselling book Love Does, likes to quit something every Thursday. You don’t have to be so radical. Instead devise a list of four things you want to leave behind in the New Year. Your list may include bad habits, unhealthy relationships, or a volunteer position that no longer fits your life.
Aim for dinner together as a family three or more nights out of the week, as researchers suggest the benefits to your children, such as improved psychological well-being, greater academic achievement, and protection against the effects of cyberbullying, start accruing after three meals together weekly. Make time for conversation or play a game. TheFamilyDinnerProject.org offers suggestions for conversation prompts, dinner games and recipes.
Dream up two projects you would like to pursue in the next twelve months. They could be home improvement projects, service projects to help a charitable organization, or craft projects to give as gifts throughout the year.
Many people like to choose a word that describes their hopes for the coming year. What word would you choose? Post your word in a location you will see daily, such as on your bathroom mirror or the refrigerator door. Notice how it shapes your days and inspires you to live up to it.
Happy New Year! Using a countdown like this one, you can count on living more purposefully. Prepare to celebrate your best year yet!
Lara Krupicka is a parenting journalist, mother of three and author of the book Family Bucket Lists: Bring More Fun, Adventure & Camaraderie Into Every Day.