I recently learned that we are not, in fact, on the cusp of a new decade. Apparently, since there’s no such thing as a year zero, the new decade actually begins at the end of 2020. I’m not a scientist so that’s as technical as I can get. Still, doesn’t it *feel* like we’re on the brink of something BIG? Each new year presents an opportunity to start fresh and the clock hasn’t even struck 12 yet but it already seems like 2020 is going to be a life-shifting one.

2019 has been that kind of year for me in both good and bad ways. It started in the lowest state of grief after my mother passed away suddenly on January 2nd. And that’s an impossible thing to get over. Which is why I can’t believe that I’m ending the year at peace, with excitement, and with expectancy for the days to come. God is still good. To close out 2019, here are the things that have helped me thrive throughout the year and have me looking forward to great things in 2020. These are the things I want for you.

Exercise Gratitude

The first thing I do in the morning is say thank you. Thankfulness is a way of life for me and can be for you, too, with a bit of practice. And, like self care, it seems much harder to do when things are hard. But I guarantee it’s possible. Life is not perfect and it never will be. But it always has purpose. Exercising gratitude helps keep it in perspective. Start by looking for something small to be thankful for once a day. You’ll soon notice a flood of little things like that.

Be of Help to Others

One of the most important lessons my mother ever taught me is to help people as often as I’m in the position to do so. The thing about helping other people is that it helps you in the process. If you feel like someone around in your life is suddenly going through the same heartache or hard time you’ve experienced before, it isn’t a coincidence. Perhaps you’ve been perfectly equipped to help them through. You don’t even have to know someone personally to be of help. The blessings we receive aren’t meant to stop with us but rather to flow through us so that they can be amplified. Generosity is a form of gratitude.

Eliminate the Word “Should” from Your Vocabulary

A lot of the guilt and discontent we go through is because of the difference between what we have and what we think we “should” have. What we’re doing and what we “should” be doing. Whether the should came from comparing my stage in life to that of another woman or from somebody else’s expectations of me, the moves that followed weren’t my best and the motivation didn’t last. In 2020, give yourself permission to dismiss the pressure of the things you “should” do and find out what really works for you.

Move with Intention

One of the best compliments I received this year was that I do everything with intention. It’s not the sexiest descriptor but is something I’m so proud of. As much as we want to, we can’t control even half of the things that happen in life. There’s no point in trying to. Instead, I take ownership of the things I can control and put my mind to my decisions so that they are fully reflective of me. Faith bridges the remaining gap. I want you to have the security and validation that comes from knowing that your decisions and actions are your own. I encourage you to be intentional in the New Year and in each year after that.

Make Space for Your Emotions

I experienced the full gamut of emotions this year with sadness being the heaviest and most pervasive. And one thing that served me well was giving myself the space to fully experience my feelings. I challenge you to invest energy in exploring your emotions instead of trying to control them. We can modify how our emotions manifest but they will still manifest. Developing an understanding of why we feel our feelings helps keep us from expressing them in unhealthy ways.

Take Care of Yourself

Self care is usually the first thing we let lapse, especially as women. Being all things to all people doesn’t leave much time for meditation or getting in a workout but I know full well that it’s impossible to help anybody when I’m running on empty. And self care doesn’t always look like bubble baths and massages. In the weeks after my mother’s death, it looked like me seeking time alone each night after being part of a support system all day. Taking care of yourself is easy when things are easy. Don’t forget yourself during the busy times and the hard times.

I’m wishing you your best year yet. May everything you hope for come to fruition or be set in motion in 2020. Thanks for reading!