Okay, let’s be very real about one thing: 2020 didn’t exactly live up to anybody’s expectations. The odds are astronomical that whatever New Year’s resolutions you had for the year got tossed out the window pretty quickly.

Well, 2021 is now upon the horizon: Take a deep breath, regroup and get ready to start fresh. Historically, the start of the calendar year has always marked a time for people to mentally and physically hit the “reset” button and start planning anew. More than ever before, let’s embrace that spirit of transition and change, and forge ahead with a renewed passion for life.

Where should you start? Here are 11 suggestions for ways to make the new year happier, healthier and more productive:

1. Make Your New Year’s Resolutions

You probably knew that making some New Year’s resolutions was part of this process, right? Well, here’s how to make some resolutions that you can actually keep:

  • Categorize your goals: What do you want to improve when it comes to your finances, your career, your health, your mental and spiritual well-being, and your physical environment?
  • Prioritize the list: Psychologists say that focusing on the changes you want to make one at a time is better than trying to do too much at once and letting yourself get overwhelmed. Decide which goal needs to come first, second and so on.
  • Plan your approach: Lasting change is a slow process. Start with your end goal in mind and break down the steps you need to take to get there into bite-size pieces.

It’s better to have one, two or three attainable goals and a clear plan to get there by the end of 2021 than to have lofty intentions and end up demotivated and demoralized by your lack of progress.

2. Put Away Your Holiday Decorations

There’s probably a small list of winter home maintenance tasks that you need to finish, but you need to clear away the holiday decor before you start. Drag out those ornament boxes and take down the tree. Pull the stepladder out and get the holiday lights off the house. This will help you mentally transition into the new year and give you space for other home projects.

3. Clear Off Your Desk and Clean Your Workspace

How neglected is your workspace? When’s the last time you’ve seen the top of your desk?

If you’re working from home right now, this is also the perfect time to overhaul your home office so that it’s more functional — and it starts by just clearing away the clutter.

4. Get Your Day Planner Organized for the Year

It’s time to crack the cover on your day planner for 2021. Start by:

  • Filling in reminders about important birthdays and anniversaries
  • Schedule reminders for basic vehicle maintenance, like oil changes
  • Leave notes about seasonal maintenance tasks for your home and yard
  • Make any doctors’ appointments you know you need and write them down

You can also use your planner to help keep track of “milestones” on your goals that you hope to reach.

5. Clean Out Your Closets

Closets tend to be untended and cluttered zones filled with things that we’ve forgotten we even own. Grab some of those empty boxes you have sitting around and go through one closet at a time. Donate anything you haven’t used or worn in a year to charity.

6. Tackle Your Junk Drawers

Everybody has at least one of these, right? If you’re like us, however, the “junk drawer” you started in the kitchen may have replicated itself all over the house. Empty them out and pare down their contents to just the essentials that you really need to keep.

7. Get a Personal Makeover

There’s nothing that uplifts the spirit more than a little self-care at the right moment. Maybe it’s time for a new hairstyle or color. Maybe you just need to give yourself permission to update your wardrobe or invest in that makeup, cologne or other personal beauty product you’ve always wanted.

8. Put Some Order in Your Craft Supplies

Exactly how long have you been holding onto that yarn or construction paper? No judgement here, but this is a good time to look through your craft closet and decide what to keep and what to give away or toss. (This will also make it easier to find what you need the next time you feel creative.)

9. Clean Out the Fridge

If it’s been a while since you’ve really looked at the contents of your refrigerator and freezer, grab a bag and start clearing things out. Check all the expiration dates on your condiments and throw out all the jars and bottles that only have a smidge of whatever they hold left in the bottom.

10. Restock Your Pantry

Winter is just getting started, so it’s time to stock up on bad-weather essentials before the snows really hit. Make a list of everything you can’t do without for a few days, like:

  • Bathroom tissue
  • Canned and boxed food
  • Potable water
  • Extra batteries
  • Medication

If you get everything now that you’ll need to endure a big snow without leaving your home, you won’t have to rush out and fight the crowds the next time weather’s on its way.

11. Light Some Incense or Candles

Scents have a powerful effect on human emotions, so capitalize on that fact by adding scents to your home that invoke the mood that you most want to create. Researchers say that vanilla scents make people feel the most relaxed, while citrus scents can stimulate your mind and make you happy.

None of these tasks take Herculean effort, but they’re great ways to effect positive changes to your environment at the start of the year — and that can motivate you to keep the ball rolling as you look at your goals.

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