Happy new year! Many experts and life-coaches speak about using the “energy” and “mood” of certain times, to our advantage. Mondays for starting things, Fridays for completing tasks, Sundays for rest and recovery, Saturdays for socialising, etc. This applies to times of the year too, and January is a good example. So, what are the sort of things we can, and perhaps should, focus on at the start of the year…..

Realistic real resolutions. Of course we often set new-year-resolutions don’t we? And we have usually forgotten them before February comes around, haven’t we? We do think January is an excellent time to set goals and make plans. It just feels “right” at this time of year. If you want to do better than you have in the past, we suggest being realistic: no more than three goals at any one time, nothing toooooo difficult (challenging is fine, but impossible is counter-productive), include a time-frame (goals without timeframes are just vague dreams), use numbers (if you cannot measure it you cannot manage it), and mix longer-term with more immediate targets.

Take stock. This should really come before goal setting of course. The start of the year (or the end of last year) is a great time to look in the mirror and assess where you are in your life. What’s going well? What is a problem? What works and what does not? You might take a close look at the last 12 months when considering these questions. Honest, brutally honest, self-reflection is a great exercise at any time, but the new year is perhaps the best opportunity here.

Manage money. It is quite likely that you have had a splurge over the festive season and the credit-card debt may be looming. Perhaps you have a bonus and or a pay-rise from work. January is an excellent time to do some financial planning and some budgeting. Once again, brutal honesty and realism are needed. And please remember it is likely that it took years to arrive at your financial position today – it will not change overnight so you need some patience.

Look at the world. We live in unprecedented times where things are changing extremely quickly. There is a pandemic, freedoms are restricted, the economy is struggling, the climate is changing, and much much more. This may be a good time to think through how life looks now compared to a year or two ago. What has changed and how does it affect you? What do you need or want to do in response to the changes around you?

Do something new. A bit like Mondays, January feels like a good time to start things. So how about doing something completely new this year? Start reading again. Take up a new hobby. Join a community group of some sort. Take up an activity that you do together as a family (forest walks, cycling, visiting museums, playing chess, going to new coffee shops…). Plan a holiday to somewhere off the beaten track and new to you.

There are certain special times that we can use to help us in our quest for better, more balanced, healthier, happier lives. January is a great example. You can do any of these things at any time of year, but the start of the year is an opportunity to grasp.

Written by Dr Colin Burns