How To Start The New Year Right: 5 Positive Things To Do Today

As we switch out the calendar for the new year and flip to a fresh page, it’s time to embrace new beginnings and opportunities. If you’re wondering how to start the new year right — but you need to keep things SIMPLE — you’re in the right place. In this post, we’ll talk about five positive actions you can take today to set the tone for a year filled with purpose, peace, and personal growth. 

The dawn of a new year brings a chance for reflection, renewal, and positive changes. Unfortunately, for many people it means setting unrealistic goals and expectations that leave them feeling overwhelmed and defeated within just a few days. Let’s stop doing that!

The start of the year is the ideal moment for setting intentions and embracing a more fulfilling lifestyle. Let’s embark on this journey together with positive ways to begin the new year on a good note, with simplicity and joy leading the way.

Text '5 positive ways to begin the new year on a good note' on white square over background of smiling woman making goals for the year.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through an affiliate link, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This post is not to be taken as professional medical or mental health advice. All statements are strictly my personal life observations. You can see my full disclaimer here.

How are you doing as we end the year?

Do you feel calm, with everything under control? Or are you stressed, worried about… well, everything… and wondering how you’re going to handle the new year? 

You know you’re ‘supposed to’ make powerful resolutions that will change your life, but you’ve never succeeded with those in the past. 

And you know you’re ‘supposed to’ make a detailed plan for your year so you can conquer ALL of those big goals, but that feels overwhelming. And also, just like resolutions, you’ve never really stuck with those detailed plans before.

So what SHOULD you do?

How Do You Start The New Year Off Right?

Maybe you’re feeling like skipping the whole ‘new year new me’ thing this year?

Honestly, there’s nothing at all wrong with NOT making resolutions or setting a bunch of goals or planning all.the.things.

But there ARE some simple, positive things we can do to add something good to every day… and even just that little bit of change could make your entire year better. 

Here are the five things I’m doing to begin the new year in the best way I can:

1. Show extra kindness to yourself and to others

‘Be kind. Everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden.’ – Ian MacLaren

Even though it might feel like stress is targeting us in a very personal way, it’s also true that we don’t know what everyone else is going through each day.

It’s absolutely fine to FEEL our feelings. They may be raw and ugly, and that’s okay! Give yourself space to work through them. Get help if you’re having an extra-rough time. And check out these self worth quotes for encouragement.

And even though we may be feeling all. the. things… let’s do our best to not take those difficult feelings out on others. Believe me, I write this for myself as well as for you… it’s something we ALL need to be just a little more conscious of right now.

Smiling woman sitting at a table and writing goals for the New Year.

2. Use journaling to manage stress

Here’s a post I wrote about using calming journal prompts.

The prompts in the blog post are meant to help you get those feelings out while taking small steps to practice stress or anxiety management.

*Note: This is not a replacement for professional therapy!

3. Do some decluttering

I know, I know… you have 100 other things on your plate right now. Who has time to declutter?

Here’s the thing… even just ONE clutter-free space can be an oasis of calm when everything else feels out of control.

Maybe you can declutter your porch or your entryway and put out some welcoming winter decor. Or tidy up your bedside table so you can enjoy a more peaceful bedroom at the end of the day.

Whatever area would make the biggest difference to YOU… spend 10 minutes working on it every day, and see if it doesn’t help at least a little bit.

Read: Declutter Tips for When You’re Overwhelmed With Too Much Stuff

4. Do something every day that makes you laugh or shifts your focus

  • watch cute animal videos on YouTube or TikTok
  • write a short fiction story when you’ve never done such a thing before
  • put on your boots and take a walk in the snow or the rain
  • take up a new creative hobby — coloring? bullet journaling? painting? dancing in your living room? crafting?
  • find a hilarious new video series to binge-watch

Here’s a pic of my latest relaxing obsession that gets me away from the screen… jigsaw puzzles! I just finished this one… Winter Reading Nook. It’s definitely my favorite so far. (I’m sharing all of the puzzles I’m doing on my ‘Jigsaw Puzzles’ list in my Amazon shop.)

Completed Winter Reading Nook jigsaw puzzle on a puzzle pad.

5. START planning goals for the year

This might sound crazy, especially if you’ve already decided that goals and resolutions are useless because you feel like you always fail.

Here’s the thing, though… the trick is to only plan a little bit, not for the entire year at once, and only focus on something that’s extremely important to you… not all.the.things. your brain tells you that you’re ‘supposed’ to do.

I usually do a lot of planning during the ‘in-between week’ just before New Year’s Day, but some years that doesn’t happen… and it’s totally okay! It’s absolutely fine to only do goal planning when it works for YOU… and that can be on any day of the year. 

For this year, I’m starting with only a few pages printed out from my new annual goal planner. These are the pages I want to begin with to get my mind in the right place for starting the year.

Printed annual goal planning pages stacked on a table.

Want to see the entire Goal Journey planner? CLICK HERE and scroll down a bit… there’s a flipbook that shows all 84 pages. And if you want a copy for yourself, you can buy the printable goal planner here.

Read: Tips for Setting Powerful Goals {for the Overwhelmed Overthinker} 

More Resources For A Positive Year

25 Motivational Phrases to Use as Part of Your Positive Daily Routine

The One Focus Method — My book contains expanded versions of my most inspirational posts on goal setting and achieving. It also helps you work on building the motivation to follow through on completing projects in shorter periods of time.

Take Ownership of Your Goals: Goal Journaling for Overthinkers

How To Make Decisions Faster Without Regret: A Guide For Overthinkers

Will doing all of these positive things immediately fill the world with rainbows and unicorns? Seriously, we’re all adults here… we know it doesn’t quite work like that.

But I absolutely believe this: Doing joyful things, taking the time to work toward truly meaningful goals, and consistently showing kindness to others through our thoughts, words, and actions can do nothing but help start the new year right!

What will you do today to grow as a person and make this year just a little better?

You’ve got this!

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