Five ways to start fresh in 2023

Jan, 17, 2023

It’s a new year! Whether you’ve done some of these exercises already or you’re looking for inspiration, here are five ways to help you start fresh in 2023. This isn’t an exhaustive list or a super in-depth how-to for each exercise, but I’ll give you the tools you need to implement each of them.

I’d encourage you to mix and match – try one, then another, or eventually do all five. These exercises are not mutually exclusive, and they do complement each other well if you decide you’d like to do them all.

Finally, don’t beat yourself up if it’s part way through the month or even year by the time you do this work. It’s never too late to start fresh.

Gratitude wrap-up

This is a simple yet powerful tool. On a piece of paper, in a journal, on your phone or computer, wherever works for you, get ready to make a BIG list. List everything that you’re thankful for from the last year, including but not limited to:

    • People
    • Events 
    • Circumstances 
    • Things you’ve learned 
    • Experiences

Set a timer for 5-10 minutes, or just write until you can’t think of anything else. Get as detailed as you’d like. The goal is to give yourself a picture of how God’s blessed you over the last year.

While you can do this exercise on its own, it’s also a helpful way to get yourself in the correct mindset for goal setting and other activities. You can also make this a daily, weekly, or monthly practice as you’d like.

Reviewing and dreaming

This is another list exercise, except you’re making two separate lists. The focus of this exercise is more “productivity” – things done and accomplished.

First, you’ll want to take 5-10 minutes and look back on all the things you’re proud of doing, overcoming, or accomplishing in the previous year. This is the time to pump yourself up! I can almost guarantee that you’ve done more than you think and this list will be very illuminating.

Next, look ahead and dream big! Take another 5-10 minutes and this time, write down anything you want to accomplish or be in the next year. Don’t censor, filter, or toss anything out, even if it’s down the road years instead of months. Just write anything and everything that comes to mind.

Usually this is a great place to begin before moving on to the next exercise, goal setting. But you can do it all on its own as well.

Goal setting

This exercise will probably take the longest but it’s also the most effective at preparing you for the year ahead.

While we won’t go into minute detail about how to set goals, here’s a quick outline to get you stated.

If you did exercise two (reviewing and dreaming), take one of those dreams that you’d like to make a reality. If you didn’t do that, then spend a few minutes thinking about something you’d like to accomplish in the next year.

Once you’ve got an idea, jot it down. Then, use these steps to edit it into a goal. 

    • Make it personal to you, not a copy of someone else’s)
    • Make it specific, rather than vague 
    • Make sure it has an end point, a time you know you’ll have accomplished it
    • Make sure it’s reasonable to accomplish in the time frame you’re setting goals for

Here’s an example of what you might start with and how these questions would help to turn it into a goal.

Idea: Write a book.

Goal: Write a book about stewardship of the motherhood season of life, based on my experiences, with the first draft complete by June and full book published by November.

It’s personal (my own experience), specific (about stewarding motherhood), reasonable (at least in my imaginary scenario) and has an end date (November).

But this isn’t where you stop! The only way to accomplish a goal is to take action. So next, write a list of all action steps you’ll need to take in order to reach your goal. Break them down into the smallest possible steps, which will make them much easier to tackle.

Here are some additional ideas to continue this exercise and set yourself up for success in reaching your goal:

    • Schedule each action step on a calendar (or at least the first few to get started)
    • Brainstorm possible obstacles that may come up, and ways to avoid or work through them
    • Get an accountability partner
    • Plan regular times to check in on your goal progress, such as every two weeks or every month
    • Write your goal down somewhere front and center in your life where you’ll see in often

Note, January 2023: I’ll have an in depth goal setting tutorial coming out soon, so keep an eye out if you’re reading this before it’s out!

Habit hack

There are three ways to approach this, all are good:

    • Start a new habit
    • Stop a bad habit
    • Trade a bad habit for a good one

Again, you can start with your dreaming list, or take some time to think about habits you have or would like to have.

I’ll go through each scenario briefly and outline the questions to answer to adequately plan. 

To start a new habit:

    • What is the habit?
    • How frequently will you perform it? 
    • What time of day will you do it? 
    • How will you track it? 
    • What are obstacles to doing this habit and how can you prepare for them? 

To stop a bad habit or to swap a bad habit with a good one: 

    • What is the habit?
    • When do you most often succumb to it?
    • What triggers the habit? 
    • What will you choose instead of the bad habit?
    • How will you track it? 

Habits are so powerful, and can also be a great support in reaching a goal. Two books I highly recommend to learn about or create habits are The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, and Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod. 

Choosing a word for the year

This last one is a lot of fun and should also be something you allow yourself to dwell on for a few days to choose something meaningful to you.

The idea is simple but powerful: What’s one word or phrase that you’d like to define the next year?

This can be a characteristic you’d like to develop, an attribute of God you’d like to focus on, a phrase that encourages you toward your biggest goal, or anything else. It’s super personal and there’s really not a right or wrong word or way to choose it.

Here are a few guidelines to help:

    • Make it yours and not a copy of someone else’s
    • Put it somewhere in your life you’ll see it and be reminded often
    • Search Scripture for corresponding verses or guidance


So now what?

I hope these ideas have helped you as you begin the new year (or make a fresh start at any time of your life)! Here are some other things you may find useful:

Finally, please reach out with any specific questions or just to chat! I’d love to connect. You can leave a comment on this post, send an email to, or join the network and send me a message. 

five ways to start fresh in 2023


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