I love the clean slate feeling of a new year. A whole 365 days to design a life worth living. For a fresh start, here are some ways to complete 2003 and make room for 2004.

1. Start Your Calendar
Don't just pick any old calendar. A huge selection is out there, so choose one that makes you laugh or one that inspires you. Write in birthdays, anniversaries and special days on your calendar. Decide on vacation times, weekends away, date nights and retreat days. You don't want a year of all work and no play.

2. Plan a Time to Relax
The holiday season can be hectic, so plan a time to slow down in January. Rent movies, read under a blanket, or just get some extra sleep.

3. Clear Out
It's hard to start fresh with last year, cluttered around you. Return anything you have borrowed. Even if it's embarrassing because you kept it so long. How will you feel once you have returned it? Imagine that relief. Get rid of excess clothes that you don't wear. As you put away the holiday decorations, get rid of the overkill. Throw out last year's magazines. And do you really need piles of newspapers from 2003? Clear out space for 2004.

4. Update Your Finances
Balance your checkbook so you know exactly where you are financially. Now, get out a sparkling clean, new checkbook register for the new year.

What are your financial plans? Do you need to get out of debt after the holidays? Quicken.com has a free online debt reduction planner.

What are your savings goals? Retirement, college, a new house? Do you know when some periodic bills are going to be due? With your goals in mind, set up a budget for the upcoming year.

5. Catch up on Paperwork
If you don't already have a file for your 2003 tax papers get a nice, clean file folder. You can use a second file folder to start your 2004 tax papers.

Put every bit of unfiled paper in or around your in-box and process it (file it, write it down on the calendar, set a date, write down an action to take, put it in a basket to read, throw it out, etc.)

Pick a day to write any correspondence you are behind on. Make it easier by drinking some hot cocoa with music on as you write. Update your contact list with addresses, phone numbers and useful information gleaned from your Christmas cards.

6. Clear out Your Head
In order to get clear of the past year, make a list of anything you have been procrastinating on or things you needed to do. Are their any 2003 projects you need to complete? Are there any promises you made, but didn't get around to doing yet? Were there any people you wanted to get together with or send appreciation? See how many of these things you can knock off before the end of January.

7. What Do You Want to Do in 2004?
Hop on your computer and pick a font that screams 'fun'. You are going to make a goal list, but not filled with items you feel you should do. Instead of the same old resolutions, try something different. Fill your list with items that energize you and make you want to hop out of bed in the morning.

Brainstorm exotic food you'd like to try or instruments you'd like to learn. Type out places you'd love to visit, adventures you want to have, fun things that would make this coming year, a year to love. Add clipart or photos then print it out for your bulletin board. Remember, with a fresh start, this year can be anything you want it to be!

Action Plan
Plan a time to do the 7 steps above to make a great 2004!

Author's Bio: 

Beth Dargis is a life and career coach who works with stressed-out people to help them achieve peace, balance and purpose. E-mail Beth at the address above for a free exploratory session to get started on an action plan for your life.