New Year, New You: Renew Your Spirituality In 2013

You’ve likely heard before that the only constant thing in life is change. You can count on life throwing you curveballs that you may or may not be prepared to handle.

Oftentimes, those curveballs have to do with your finances, your health or some combination of those two things. After all, if your financial savings take a hit, then you’re likely to experience stress. Or if you’re in poor health without insurance, you might dip into your savings to pay for  unexpected healthcare costs.

As you enter a new year, now is a perfect time to take control of your own destiny. And whether you are planning a career change or planning for retirement, one surefire way to do just that is by committing to a spiritual awakening.

We’re not talking about joining a cult or preaching door-to-door. We mean turning your focus toward the things that really matter in life. The end result will be greater clarity on how to approach big issues such as your health, your finances and your future retirement.

You might not immediately see why it’s essential to focus on your spirituality if, say, you’re looking to beef up your 401(k). And we wouldn’t expect every retirement financial advisor to offer the tips we recommend below. However, we’re equally sure that if you implement the following three steps, you will equip yourself with all the tools you need to address life’s challenges.

Step #1: Practice Forgiveness
Even in cases where it seems like forgiveness is unthinkable, consider practicing forgiveness for everyone in your life, including yourself. When you forgive others for their wrongdoings, you make space in your life for new happiness. In contrast, if you hold grudges, you will only harm yourself by harboring feelings of anger and hatred — and those feelings will rob you of the chance for real joy.

Forgiving others does not mean you excuse what they did. It means you acknowledge that you are free to take control of your own feelings and grant yourself peace.

By forgiving, you also accept yourself and others for where you are right now. Yes, you can learn and grow from mistakes. But you, and your loved ones, are not “bad” people because you made those mistakes. You’re simply human. And by focusing on the positive qualities in your loved ones, you can replace your feelings of anger with feelings of contentment.

Step #2: Be Grateful
There are those in life who always want more of something, whether it’s a pair of shoes, a car or money. These people are never truly happy because they lack appreciation for what they’ve got.

Instead of always seeking something newer, better, faster or more expensive, be grateful for what you already have. Especially when it comes to family and friends, let them know how much you love and appreciate them. And instead of regretting the past, be thankful for the lessons learned. If you had a failed relationship, for example, use the knowledge and experience gained to find one that works.

Be grateful for the challenges along with the opportunities. You will feel a greater sense of peace if you embrace life for what it is in this very moment — rather than continually focus on the past or the future.

Step #3: Believe in Something Bigger Than You
What do you believe in? More important, what are you doing to nurture your beliefs? Whether you have faith in Jesus or a belief in a cause that’s “bigger” than you, use your beliefs to fuel you along in 2013.

Do you have a passion for ending world hunger? Find a charitable organization that supports your beliefs, and volunteer your time and talents. Or perhaps you love teaching children. Is there a church or community organization with which you could volunteer?

The point is to commit to a cause or an activity that gets you outside of your own head. Instead of dwelling on the inevitable obstacles that come your way, you will focus your attention on helping those in need, nurturing your spirituality and having faith that life is larger than just your little corner of the world. This faith will give you the strength you need to persevere, to enact change and to make the impossible a reality.

Preparing for Change
When you make your spirituality a key priority, you will be better able to navigate life’s challenges with strength, peace and finesse. And you’ll be more likely to attract the kind of life you’re after, not only in 2013, but well into your retirement.

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Felicia Gopaul is the founder of FeliciaGopaul.com and College Funding Resource. Her articles on college financing, planning for retirement and smart money strategies help consumers to save more, spend less and maximize every dollar. Felicia loves walking, yoga and other activities that nurture her mind, body and spirit.