3 Ways to Start the Year off Right

3 Ways to Start the year off right (1)

I tend to love the beginnings of things. This year ahead is fresh and new, and I have learned that if I don’t intentionally pursue the things that refresh my soul, those things won’t happen. We have to take meaningful steps toward renewing our hearts and minds in Christ, and there may not be a better time to do that than right now, when our calendars are full of more white space than they will be for awhile.

Here are some ways that we can look at how we are living at the start of this new year and invite God to lead us into better ways of living.

Make Time for Solitude and Silence

When I was in college, I had a professor that took a day off every month to retreat from the world and re-center his life by spending a day with God. He would spend the entire day at a retreat center, speaking with no one and spending long stretches of time in solitude and silence. The silence, he said, gave him time to reflect on the deep places in his life that constant noise and stimuli kept him from ever reaching internally.

In our media-drenched culture, colors, lights, advertisements, and technology surround us. There is always another thing to buy that promises happiness, or something to look at to amuse or entertain us. What happens when we get away from all of these things? What happens when we are alone, without anything to distract us? Often, the deep longings of our heart begin to surface when they have the time and space to bubble up in our minds. The things we really hope for and care about become prominent in our thoughts. Our true heart has the space to come out.

It is hard to get to this place. When I spend time alone, in silence, I am often bombarded by thoughts of things that need to get done, of projects that are unfinished. If I followed every rabbit-trail that came into my head, I would never reach actual silence, because the noise inside of me can become so loud. I have found that tangibly writing down the “to do” list that pops up in my mind helps release me from having to listen to those thoughts anymore. With the ideas written down, I can set them aside and focus on reflecting on life.


Prayer is the best way to truly refresh, because it connects us with the One who knows us best—God. By spending time to ask God about our thoughts and our lives, we can connect with our Creator in meaningful ways that will truly give our spirit life. I have found that taking chunks of time to read the Bible and pray has significantly changed my life. If you find that it’s hard to concentrate for extended periods of time, try taking a walk while you talk with God, or journal your thoughts by writing them down. Sometimes I even enjoy singing my prayers, making up the tune as I go along. There are many ways to pray, and as long as our hearts are in the right place—seeking to connect with the One who made us—it will be time well-spent. Time spent with God is never wasted.

Take Time Away

Getting away from the schedules that we have carved out for ourselves is sometimes the most challenging thing to do. It doesn’t seem possible that the world we’re in will run smoothly if we step out of it for a few days, or even a day, or even for a few hours. Will our households, businesses, and families survive if we leave?

The answer is yes. And the reality is that if you make the time to step out of the regular schedule of life to reevaluate and refresh, you will come back to “regular” life with better and more insightful thoughts, as well as with more energy to offer to your family, your friends, and your co-workers.

Taking time away will look different for everyone. You may only feel that you can responsibly take a couple of hours away from your duties at home or at work, or you may figure out a way to step away from your responsibilities for a full day or two. Whatever the amount of time that you can set aside to get away, it can be meaningful.

And that is the key focus for getting away. While it might sound nice to go on a mini-vacation and unwind by watching a movie or sleeping the day away, the focus for this time should be centered on purposefully looking at your current life—what you love about your life, what you long for, what you want to grow in, and what you need to cut out. While a nap is not a bad idea, consider removing any and all kinds of media for your time away. A ringing cell phone is almost certain to keep you focused on the minutiae of life, rather than help you think about the life you are seeking to live.

Blessings on you, friends, as you start this new year. What do you want this year to be?


  1. Thank you for sharing these encouragements for starting the new year with purpose. I appreciate know you said that when we are quiet our deepest longings bubble up. I love this time of year when that happens. It is exciting to see how God will use all of it.

  2. It’s refreshing to see three opportunities to open our hands in the new year, rather than charging forward with tight resolve and fists clenched in determination! Truly, we prepare ourselves for the year by expecting and accepting God’s generosity. Beautiful invitation, Ann!

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