With all the concerns we have in our lives, a new year is a good time to regroup and make plans. Everyone is worried about the economy, energy, health, politics, and numerous other issues. Instead of worrying yourself sick, think of things that you can control and make changes that will improve your life. This is, of course, easier said than done, but it is worth the effort. I'm certainly not perfect at making needed changes, but at least I keep trying! And instead of thinking of this post as the same old, same old, think of it as a reminder of your possibilities.

Regarding the economy, this is a good time to make needed personal changes. We all have places we can cut back on our spending and start saving a little more. Opt for free or low cost entertainments. Spend more time at home with the family. Cook at home instead of eating out. See if you can store a little extra food (rotating it so it doesn't get too old) and other household items. Try to drive a little less to cut gas expense. If you have debts, work a little harder at paying them off. Discuss these changes and enlist your family's support. You can let the kids have some input, but remember that you're the parents and can set the limits and guidelines. If it's just you, well, your inner parent will just have to be firm with your inner child!

As for health, if we can make changes that will improve our health, we'll have fewer medical expenses down the road. Many types of exercise are free--walking, riding bikes you already have, using exercise equipment you already have, working out with videos/DVDs you already have, etc. For nutrition, we can cook more of our meals to cut back on salt, fat, and calories. Buy fewer processed foods and cook more "from scratch". Again, enlist the family in your efforts. Teach the kids to cook. Teach them about nutrition. You can still eat your favorite foods, just make little changes to make them a bit healthier.

Spend time improving your spiritual life, too. This can go along way in supporting your efforts in other areas. Keep an eternal perspective and remember that this life isn't all there is and material items aren't all that important in the grand scheme of things. Pray and read the scriptures daily to keep close to God and to remember what life is really all about. You'll also get a lot of inspiration for handling your problems.

You'll be able to think of many more areas of life that you can improve. Make it fun and interesting. Look on changes as opportunities and adventures, rather than punishments or deprivations. Set priorities so that your time, effort, and money is going for things that are important to you and your family. Don't neglect service and charity. Even if you have to cut back on those things that cost money, do what you can to help others. This will help your own perspective and will help you look outward as well as inward.

You don't necessarily have to make a list of new year's resolutions, or start things on January 1 (good thing, too, since today is the 2nd!). You also don't have to overwhelm yourself by trying to work on everything at once. You could choose one thing to work on in January, then add another in February, and so on, through the year and beyond.

I'm writing this post as much for myself as for others, so I have my work cut out for me. I hope we can all look at each day as a fresh start. President Hinckley always encouraged us to be a bit better each day. That is very much within the grasp of each of us, no matter what our circumstances are. Happy New Year!
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