We are just days away from 2020. The past year has been a rollercoaster ride for me.
My family began 2019 reeling from the horrific Christmas Eve fire that was a tremendous personal and financial loss for my in-laws.
In February, I launched My Big Fat Bipolar Life which was a huge high for me. But when you launch a website with no real technical expertise, there are many mountain and valley moments.
In March, my family went to Disney World and as always, there was plenty of magic and not enough sleep.
Intertwined between all the moments were amazing concerts like Fleetwood Mac, Pink, Paul McCartney, Lauren Daigle, Queen, Phil Collins and Danny Gokey.
There were moments so perfect they will be etched in my mind forever—like when Ava and I met Danny Gokey and enjoyed his concert from the front row.
And there is the memory of me and Ava cheek to cheek ugly crying as we sang “Blackbird” at the top of our lungs at the Paul McCartney concert. (You are correct in assuming that most of my standout moments have to do with live music.)
I will never forget the smile on Scott’s face on his birthday after the driving experience where he channeled his inner race car driver while he sped around the racetrack in a red Ferrari.
The Day My World Stopped Turning
But then September came. And in one day, my world changed forever. On September 10, 2019, I lost a family member to suicide and a friend to numerous health issues.
Both were unexpected. Both were gone too soon.
I coasted through the rest of the year—focusing on my blog so I didn’t have to think.
The empty seats were conspicuous around the holiday table during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Words can’t describe the hole in our hearts.
And even though I feel stuck in my grief, it is time to move forward to what happens next.
New Year, New Me
Every year on the first day of January I excitedly write “Today is the first day of the rest of my life” in my journal expecting the year will be different.
That I will be different. That I will lose the weight. That I will be a better wife and mother. That all my big dreams will come true.
And honestly, most years nothing changes. I am still the same old me—disappointed I did nothing to achieve my goals.
It takes more than wishful thinking to make a dream become a reality.
I am a firm believer that having an action plan is the key to future success. You must know where you are going and how you will get there to reach your final destination.
So how can we do it? How can we make 2020 the year that everything changes?
Here are four strategies to jumpstart your best year ever in 2020:
1. Just say no to New Year’s resolutions and say yes to setting specific, actionable goals.
We all do it. We set lofty resolutions every year on January 1st only to become disillusioned a few months later when we did nothing to make them a reality. So we give up and say, “better luck next year.”
Resolutions fail because they are often too broad with no clear guidelines for action and success.
Instead of setting yourself up for failure, create an action plan that is both doable and measurable. Set three goals and specify what actions/steps/results would constitute success. Click here to get your free 2020 goals printable.
In three months, reevaluate your goals and measure your success. Make adjustments as necessary as you continue to pursue your goals and celebrate your wins—even if they are small ones.
2. Draw close to God and pray before you set your goals.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).
This has been a year where there was so much to do and so little time. Outside concerns encroached on my prayer time until the time allotted to spend in God’s presence became smaller and smaller and smaller.
One thing I have learned from experience is that my best-laid plans mean nothing if they don’t coincide with God’s will for my life. There have been countless times I have felt like I was spinning my wheels while trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
Do yourself a favor. Pray about it first. Whatever it is. Big or small. Before you set one goal, make sure it aligns with the course God has you on.
3. Make your mental health a priority by putting self-care at the top of your to-do list.
When life becomes busy, your self-care routine is the first thing to lose priority. If you are not careful, your life becomes filled with activities that suck away your energy and attention.
Whether or not you live with mental illness, not taking care of yourself will negatively impact your mental health. It will make you feel scattered and untethered.
So how do you practically bump self-care back to the top of your to-do list? Determine which self-care habits keep you balanced and say no to anything that upsets that balance.
If you have trouble determining which self-care habits are crucial in your life, click here to read my post about the self-care habits that help me maintain my balance. It will help you identify your needs too.
4. Write down all your best moments and save them in a memory jar.
Three years ago, my family started a tradition that has become a treasured part of each year. We write down all our best moments and save them in our memory jar.
Your memory jar doesn’t have to be elaborate. My family’s is just a plastic container. But if you are crafty, you can go all out and make it as creative as you like.
Each year on New Year’s Eve, we empty all the memories on the floor and read them aloud one by one.
You may wonder what a memory jar has to do with jumpstarting your best year ever. The memory jar serves two purposes. It makes your family pause to take in all the great moments as they are happening, and when you reread all the memories, it reminds of you how much your blessings outweigh your trials. It helps you keep gratitude front and center.
A healthy dose of gratitude goes a long way toward making any year better. Gratitude helps you keep things in perspective and colors the way you look at the world. Instead of only seeing the obstacles and challenges, you see the hope and possibilities found in every single day.
Launching my blog in February 2019 was the first time in years I felt a real sense of accomplishment. Finally, I followed through and did something.
But there is still so much to do. The more I learn, the more I need to learn.
And all the while, I am juggling bipolar disorder. And let’s face it, managing mental illness is a full-time job all on its own.
It would be easy for me to coast through 2020. I have plenty of excuses to rationalize why I should do nothing to grow and change this year.
But that’s not going to happen.
I may not become the best version of myself in 2020, but I will become a better version of myself.
And really, isn’t that what’s life is all about: trying to be a better person one day at a time.
We all fall down, but if we keep getting back up and moving forward, we are one step closer to where we need to be to make our dreams a reality.
Don’t forget to download your free 2020 goals printable. Click here to download it.