How to Design a Joyful Year

There’s nothing quite like a brand new year. It’s like opening a new sketchbook with empty pages just waiting to be filled with drawings, notes, paintings, and scribbles.

It’s tantalizing to imagine the world of possibilities that lay before us in the next twelve months.

2020 was a year like no other, and most of us couldn’t wait to have it over and done with. Yet, in many ways, 2021 remains an enigma. Scientists have succeeding in developing vaccines to help our immune systems fight the virus if we are exposed – hip hip hooray! However, we will continue to wear masks, socially distance, and work remotely for the foreseeable future.

It’s impossible to know when we will be able to return to the old normal of concerts, house parties, carnival, and crowds. Even when it is possible to return to the way things were, many people just won’t feel comfortable in large gatherings.

Yet, despite all this, I believe that it is possible for us to create a 2021 that is filled with joy. Each of us has the power to design a year that brings us happiness if we make it our intention.Welkinweir, Pottstown, PA

This isn’t about creating the perfect year. it’s about mindfully carving out pockets of time to experience joy. We already know that this will be a challenging year. Let’s prioritize making time to fill our cup with the people, things, and activities that bring us delight.

Here’s how you design a 2021 filled with joy. It’s really simple. Pull out a notepad and let’s get started:

Reflect on what brought you satisfaction and contentment in 2020. What were you doing? Who were you with? What time of day was it? How were you feeling?

Write down what will bring you joy in 2021. After you reflect on what made your heart sing in 2020, write down what you feel will bring you happiness in 2021. Focus on doing things that are within your control and are not conditional on the world opening back up again.

Schedule time for joy in your calendar. Treat these “dates with happiness” like you would any other appointment. Put them in your Google or Outlook calendar. If you have a conflict, reschedule your happiness date for another time but avoid cancelling it entirely. Use this fillable PDF worksheet to help you organize your thoughts.

I recommend scheduling at least one activity that brings you happiness a month. Of course, you can schedule more than that; but, be realistic and keep it manageable. Schedule too many things and pursuing your bliss can become a burdensome chore.

Here are the rules for when you’re on your happiness date:

This is guilt-free time. You are not allowed to judge yourself for doing something you like instead of doing something you “should” be doing. (You’re also not allowed to punish yourself afterwards by doing extra chores/errands/work…)

Have fun! Try not to take yourself too seriously and just go with the flow.Winter Wonderland Bouquet

I organized a virtual floral arranging class for my local Junior League, and the florist taught us how to create this Winter Wonderland Bouquet.

  • Having trouble thinking of what might bring you joy? Here are a few ideas to inspire you:
  • Read a book for 30 minutes, uninterrupted
  • Try out a new recipe that you’ve wanted to make for a while
  • Take a Skillshare class
  • Create a playlist
  • Relive a favorite memory and write it down
  • FaceTime an older family member and ask about their childhood
  • Spend time in your favorite corner in your house – take a nap in that sunny window nook or rock back and forth in that porch swing
  • Splurge and buy a ticket to a virtual concert. Dance along to your favorite artist’s songs.
  • Organize a Zoom party with your besties and do an activity together – like baking the same pastry or doing a 10-step facial while you chat
  • Take a walk in your favorite park
  • Go rollerblading, biking, rock climbing, or hiking
  • Find a rink and go ice-skating
  • Go kayaking

The possibilities are endless! This article from Mayo Clinc lists safe outdoor activities that you can do during the pandemic, while this RealSimple article gives ideas of indoor activities you might like to do.

Use the Design a Joyful 2021 worksheet to help you get started on planning your year in joy.

Happy New Year!

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