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31 Ways to Have a Hopeful January

Set a positive tone for the new year with these soul-lifting action steps.

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illustration of women doing different activities to have a hopeful january, new year
Alyah Holmes
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Turning the calendar to a new year can be a welcome and energizing event for some but painful and discouraging for others. We’ve been through so much in the past three years — and with ongoing unrest in the world, economic ups-and-downs and political shenanigans every other day, it’s not far-fetched to feel hopeless, anxious or worried about what’s next.

But worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair. You’re moving — but going nowhere. Instead of worrying about the unknown and things we can’t control, we can do something else — take action. Even a tiny step can make us more positive and peaceful about what's ahead.

 As a money coach, I help people work toward their financial goals, but a surprising lesson I learned in my journey to cleaning up my own financial mess is that our expectations and hope (or lack thereof) for our finances, future, relationships, career, life, etc., help determine how those things turn out. When my sense of hope is high, I have fuel in the tank to work toward my goals. But when it’s low, it's as if someone slammed on the brakes, drained my tank and then put the emergency brake on for good measure. I go absolutely nowhere.

To help navigate those down moments, I’ve developed a “hope list” — things I can do to increase my sense of hope. Whether you need to fend off the winter blues or want to start the year on a high note, these action steps (one for every day this month) can help you feel more hopeful, joyful and expectant about what’s ahead.

1. Make over your mornings. The first few hours set the tone for the day, sis. If mornings are a hot mess, revamp your a.m. routine.

2. Get some fresh air. Crack open a window. Go for a walk. Open the front door and take three deep breaths. Breathing fresh air as early in the day as possible will center and calm you.

3. Move every day. Dance, run, walk, box, stretch, etc. Bring movement into every day; it’s as good for your mind as it is for your body. Invite a friend to join you once a week, and your workout sessions become something to look forward to.

4. Create a daily affirmation and say it every day. Tell yourself why you’re going to slay the day. For an extra confidence boost, say your affirmations in front of a mirror.

5. Find daily inspiration. Bring hope into your day with an inspiring book, podcast, devotional, blog, prayer, scripture, etc. — you choose, sis.

6. Start 2024 with gratitude. List 24 things you’re grateful for. We bet you can find more.

7. Have a weekly connection session. Make a list of friends and family you’d like to connect with. Set aside 30 minutes each week to reach out to at least one person on your list.

8. See a mental health pro. Your mental and emotional wellness is as important as your physical health, sis. If you don’t already have a counselor or therapist, find one this month.

9. Write your 2024 goals. Or get creative with a vision board. Then, do one thing to move you toward one of your goals.

10. Journal. Writing in a journal can reduce stress, increase peace, boost memory, spark creativity, capture joy and raise productivity.

11. Chat with a hopeful and encouraging friend. We all know someone who is a joyful, positive and encouraging breath of fresh air. Call them up, text them, take them out to lunch; connect with them and share how you’re doing — really doing. Take it a step further with a monthly or bi-weekly check-in.

12. Encourage someone else. Feeling down? Raise someone else’s spirits with an encouraging call, text, email or voice message. Lifting others up will also lift you up.

13. Smile. A smile lifts spirits, so walk over to a mirror and smile at your beautiful self. Now, share that smile with someone else.

14. Take yourself on a date. Elevate your me-time with a solo date.

15. Create a spirit-lifting playlist. Or listen to this one.

16. Laugh. Watch or listen to something that makes you laugh. It’s good for your soul, mind and body. Even better, have your laugh session with a friend or relative. We’re 30 times more likely to laugh with someone else than alone.

17. Increase your savings or investments by 1%. Small, incremental moves can improve your outlook on your finances. And they eventually add up to significant changes.

18. Perform a random act of kindness for a stranger. Maybe they’ll pass it on.

19. Write yourself a love letter. Tell yourself all the things you love about…YOU!

20. Have a brain dump session. Set a 20-minute timer and brainstorm about a goal or challenge you're facing — without self-editing or stopping. Free writing can help you find creative and unique solutions and ideas.

21. Volunteer. Doing something for others can help you shift your focus and gain perspective.

22. Reconnect with an old friend. Visit or reach out to a friend or relative you haven’t seen in a while. The renewed connection will be uplifting for you both.

23. Declutter. There’s just something about a freshly organized room, closet or cabinet. It will clear your mind and reduce anxiety; even the kitchen junk drawer will do.

24. Do something new. Take an online class, sign up for a library workshop, start a hobby, read a new book, etc. Boosting your knowledge or doing something new will increase your confidence and tap into your adventurous and creative side.

25. Surprise someone with a special note or gift. Spouse, kid, neighbor, grandkid…have fun with it. You might make their day — which will make your day, too.

26. Get more beauty rest. Sleep is a must for your physical, emotional and mental well-being.

27. Write your younger self a letter. Tell her about some of the good things in her future.

28. Write your future self a letter. Tell her your hopes, goals and desires.

29. Do one thing you’ve “always wanted to do.” What’s it going to be, sis? If you need a courage boost, ask a friend to join in.

30. Practice breathing more deeply. We tend to take shallow breaths, but learning (and remembering) to take deep breaths can help give you energy, reduce stress and bring peace.

31. Begin a bedtime routine. Wind down well with a relaxing bedtime ritual.

BONUS: Write a hope list. No one knows you better than you, sis. Make your own list of things that help you feel more joyful, peaceful and hopeful. Keep it handy and turn to it when you need a pick-me-up.

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