Tuesday, January 22, 2013

13 Ways to Make 2013 Great

By Jennifer Rey, OSV web editor

I know. New Year's Day was three weeks ago. But I figure, by now, many of those well-intentioned and life-changing resolutions have quite likely been forgotten, lost, abandoned and all-around found not to be such a wonderful thing after all (come on, admit it). But no worries. Instead of amassing ambitious resolutions that are far too demanding, I decided on a more realistic, gradual approach for this Year of Faith. The result? A "bucket list" of sorts: 13 ways to make 2013 a good year. Maybe life-changing, maybe not – but at the very least, good, wholesome and in the right direction. With 13 ideas, that provides one activity of sorts for each month of 2013 with an extra one thrown in for when you feel particularly ambitious. That's not so bad, really. Once a month, try something from the list. The order is irrelevant. I've simply listed them as they came to me.

  1. Go on an adventure. This could be a road trip, skydiving (my personal favorite), a trip to a state park or a visit to a museum. Something to break routine and entertain a little excitement.

  2. Make a new friend. Keep your head up while walking down the street, greet the person you see in the coffee shop every morning, or join a special interests group like a book club or a hiking club. If this gets you outside of your comfort zone, that's the idea.

  3. Learn an instrument. If you never learned how to play an instrument before, take some lessons. Or if you have, pick up that guitar or dust off the piano. Music gives you another language, it's a great stress reliever, and it's just plain fun.

  4. Reconnect with family. God gave us family for a reason: love, community, bond, accountability. Call your mother. Hang out with that long-lost cousin. Take your kids to the zoo. Go on a date with your spouse. Attend that dreaded family reunion with an open heart. You may be surprised at how God will work.

  5. Fast from noise. I'm serious. Turn off your phone, shut down your computer, don't even think about turning on the TV or radio, and just stop. Even if it's only for 5-10 minutes, take a break. Breathe. And just be.

  6. Read a book from cover to cover. If you have never read a book straight through, going into the wee hours of the morning (OK, so a summer afternoon on the beach isn't so bad either), you have missed out. Now it doesn't have to be Summa Theologica or anything. Just pick something light – wholesome, but not too dense. One of my favorite easy reads is Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine – trust me, it's nothing like the movie, thankfully. I also sped through The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. It's basically the Magic School Bus on steroids.

  7. Say you're sorry. Mending a broken relationship can start with something as simple as admitting wrong and/or pain caused. It takes humility, but love is so much more beautiful than hate.

  8. Keep a journal. It can be as laid back as chronicling your day, writing down what amused you. Or it can be a prayer journal, a way to get closer to God. Either way, I recommend setting aside a specific time each day, and I wouldn't choose right before going to bed (way to easy to brush it aside).

  9. Make a meal for someone from scratch. Cooking may seem like a lot of work, and that's true. But it's also a lot of fun. And delicious. It makes a great opportunity for a friends night or a gift for a special someone.

  10. Volunteer. The whole "giving back to the community" spiel may seem cliché, but it's true. Whether mowing an elderly person's lawn or visiting patients in a hospital, we are all called to love our neighbor.

  11. Give away something you really like. The value of detachment is huge. That's why we Catholics do crazy things like fasting. It takes us from the material to the spiritual and reminds of our dependence on God.

  12. Get lost. A friend once told me how he enjoys just driving and literally getting lost, then finding the way back. I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds like a great way to get away – as long as I have a GPS to bring me back, eventually.

  13. Find a new way to pray. Getting to know God can take so many forms, so don't limit yourself. If you've never done praise and worship, pull out that instrument you learned. Talk to God in Eucharistic adoration, and stick around for Benediction. Learn about Lectio Divina, the rosary or Marian consecration.

This approach can give God a chance to work in your life without cluttering it unnecessarily with too many plans. After all, as the saying goes, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." 2013 can be a good year, but it's up to you. God is always reaching out with his grace, but grace demands a response. What's yours?


  1. A good substitute for #3 is learning something else with your hands -- for instance, last year I took up knitting and this week I learned to crochet. :)

    1. Thank you! That is such a wonderful idea. I learned to crochet, but I've always wanted to learn to knit. It's a great way to slow down. :)