As you start 2020, take a deep, meditative breath and envision how much easier your life could be if certain obstacles were removed and nagging problems were solved. What if you could eliminate this unnecessary baggage and get to that peaceful life you visualize?

A friend recently mentioned that each year she adopts a word or saying to guide her actions and decisions. Her refrain for 2019 was “lighten up.” True to her mantra, she lost 20 pounds and worked at not reacting to small things at home or at work. She implied this was helping her be kinder and gentler and lessened her stress.

There are many ways to approach achieving a goal. For some, keeping an ongoing list (and checking it twice) gets the job done. I am a list person and get satisfaction from crossing off completed tasks. For my friend, having a word or two in mind and living by them each day worked best.

The enemy of achieving any goal is procrastination. The Nike slogan “Just Do It” could be good guidance for many. Don’t think so much about your goal that you never get started working toward it. Figure out how to accomplish something and then do it. If it’s necessary, break down your goal into smaller, more manageable steps.

For some people, tackling their least favorite tasks first thing in the morning makes the rest of the day go much easier. If you postpone unpleasant tasks to later in the day, your energy will be depleted when it’s time to face them, and the temptation arises to put them off. Sometimes you spend more time dreading a task than it takes to complete the task.

Money can be the source of obstacles and problems and much stress. It doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself poor, middle class or very wealthy, you will have money issues to deal with. We all have money baggage based on how we were raised and our life experiences as adults. You can lighten your load if you can understand where your baggage comes from and how to eliminate it.

If you are too lax about money, get on a budget and stick to it. If spending money is a source of stress, pick two things you really want, spend the money, and let it sit (emotionally) for a while. Don’t overanalyze your solutions; try them out, and if you aren’t happy with the outcome, try a different approach next time. You cannot predict or control the future and every outcome. Sometimes you just need to move forward and give it your best shot.

Finding inspiration around you can help. Watch how your friends and family approach problems and reach toward their dreams. Learn from others and copy what they do. You don’t always have to do your own research from scratch and develop completely new solutions. If others have already solved the same problem, just follow the path they’ve forged.

Sally needed a new car but dreaded going to dealerships and searching online. Her friend Mary had recently purchased a car and had done lots of research before buying. Sally called Mary and asked if she would share her information, and Mary was more than happy to have someone else benefit from all of her homework. Sally and Mary met for lunch, and Sally was able to decide on what car to buy and where to buy it before they left the restaurant.

Come up with your own word or slogan for 2020. Use it to remove obstacles, solve problems, and find peace.

This commentary originally appeared January 12 on

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