I have often found that it takes us letting go, loving ourselves and others, being faithful to our mission as believers, and leaving some wiggle room in our good-willed patterns for favor and good standing to flourish.
If you’re anything like me, you love an inspiring “new year” post but can feel a little overwhelmed with the amount of change it tends to require. I stopped making resolutions a while ago but instead began building new healthy habits into my daily routine. I feel like you are either a “take the habit and run with it” or “oh yeah, I was gonna work on that” type of person. Regardless of where you sit on the spectrum of change, I have 3 organizational hacks for your physical, mental, and spiritual growth that will, prayerfully, kick off your year in a positive direction. Let’s go!
1. Start with One Room
Cleaning out your home, apartment, or garage doesn’t have to be a task saved for “spring cleaning.” I have more inside time available during the start of a new year due to the frigid climate outside so this makes sense! When I am in the mood to clean, I clean. It happened to me this year as I started taking down my Christmas decorations, then did a deep cleaning everywhere, began putting back up the everyday decorations, and my brain went into organize and purge mode. Because I don’t feel that mode often, especially after a long workday, I went with it.
If you find yourself sitting on your couch more often this month, start organizing your living room first and before you know it you’ll be moving items around and placing things in “keep, give, and trash” piles! I do my best to give as much away as I can. We know it is a blessing to give but often we can view that in terms of giving new things and not used items… but go with me here. If I know of family or friends I think could use something of mine, and it’s in good condition, I’ll gift it away! Always remember that the other person has a right to not take it though. They may not need that item and not want something to come into their home and clutter it up!
Giving donations to organizations in your city for those less fortunate is also a great way to show love to your community. As good as it may feel when you give, make sure you keep this verse from Matthew 6:3-4 in mind “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Remember that your motives for giving are just as important as the giving itself. Check your heart as thoroughly as you check your inventory.
2. Make a Note of It
I have been working as a full-time Speech-Language Pathologist over the past 15 years and one of the most popular memory strategies I teach my patients of all ages is the importance of writing something down. This might look like a pen and notepad, using the reminder/notes app, texting yourself, or putting it on a physical or digital calendar. It has been confirmed through medical research that it takes our brains at least 60 days for a new action to become a habit. If you are wanting to be better about remembering certain patterns or healthy behaviors this new year, writing them down in a highly trafficked spot in your home or office is key.
Are you wanting to develop a more intentional Bible study time and/or prayer time? Maybe when you sit down to pray, the people or things you promised to pray for have escaped your memory. The next time someone you are close to asks you to pray for them, don’t just tell them you will, but go ahead and make a note of it. I have my own list that I tuck into my daily devotional as a bookmark. It has all of the people, issues, praises, and requests that will stay with me for the year. I can always add more specific prayers on the back of the notecard too for daily, weekly, or monthly needs.
There isn’t a specific verse about the importance of writing but looking at the Bible itself, can you imagine if the authors of the books of the Bible weren’t good note-takers? After God gave Moses the 10 Commandments, Moses then instructed the Israelites with their own version of memory techniques as we see in Deuteronomy 6:6-9: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
Do you need to bind up God’s word in your heart this year? Are you searching for a way to help remember His promises? Make a note of it somewhere and your new year is sure to start in the right direction.
3. Let It Go
This last organizational hack to kick off this new year may seem a little counterintuitive. When we think of starting out a year with a new habit or mindset we usually don’t think about letting something go or giving ourselves a break. Usually, when we think about resolutions, it’s to add something good to your already existing schedule or exchange a bad habit with a better one. Taking a pause and letting yourself “off the hook” doesn’t typically make it to Instagram.
The past couple of years have been an emotional and mental rollercoaster for all of us and they brought out a lot of the “structured” character traits I have. Being that I have a tiny case of self-diagnosed OCD paired with a tendency for introversion, when the pandemic shook up my routine, it equaled a gold mine for organizational Mandy to thrive. It became an outlet for me to “feel” like I had a tiny bit of control over something…anything.
Before I go further, I am not a counselor, neuropsychologist, or personal trainer so please take my advice with that in mind. Over the past 4 years, health and fitness have been on the top of my list. I began exercising regularly in 2017 and needed a lot of visual and physical reminders paired with healthy boundaries to make my new practices a habit. Sliding into 2020 I had already ingrained healthy fitness routines that were paying off.
When staying home became the norm, and going to the gym was not an option for me, I utilized and invested in home workout equipment to help keep up my progress. I started writing on a calendar how long my workouts were, what body parts I focused on, and what equipment I used. It was fun to “see” my habit in black and white. But what started as innocent accountability slowly became a mental drain on me comparing my current self to last week’s self without enough grace and rest. I still exercise regularly but now just make a checkmark on the calendar when I do. That’s it. That’s all I need to look back with a sense of accomplishment at the month gone by. I also rest more now and make sure there are no more than 4-5 checks over my week, which makes rest a guarantee.
These new habits, healthy lifestyle changes, and additions to our everyday routine are intended to add positivity and growth to our lives. They should not be things to make ourselves feel better about how “in control” we are. I have often found that it takes us letting go, loving ourselves and others, being faithful to our mission as believers, and leaving some wiggle room in our good-willed patterns for favor and good standing to flourish. As the wise words from Proverbs 3:3-4 state, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”
And that, my friends, is the kind of “hack” we can benefit from all year long.
Mandy Smith is a full-time Speech-Language Pathologist, blogger, and freelance writer. Her loves include Jesus, her family and friends, creativity, reading, playing guitar, singing, coffee, laughing, and of course, writing! You can read more of her writing on her website www.myjoyousheart.com and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Featured image credit: Freepik.com