As another year comes to a close, many of us look forward to closing one chapter of our lives to begin a new year full of possibilities. When it comes to our health, wellness, and personal development, the new year may be the best time to reset and focus on what we want for ourselves.
But where do we begin? It’s common knowledge that most new year’s resolutions are forgotten within a month or two, as we get swept up by life’s events and responsibilities and resign ourselves to try again next year. Well, get ready, because this year is different!
This article will help you learn from your experience, articulate your needs to the most critical areas of life, and launch yourself into a vibrant and nourishing year ahead.
First things first
Before diving headfirst into a complete life overhaul, it may be beneficial first to take some time to reflect on the year coming to an end. This can help solidify any lessons learned to build upon our experiences in a positive way moving forward.
Studies have found that by reflecting on our experiences – especially by seeking out different perspectives on events or ideas – we can become more proficient at making good decisions and adapting to new situations.
So, how do we go about practicing self-reflection? One idea is to take 5-10 minutes to write down the following questions:
- What were the most important things that happened in my life this year?
- What are the lessons I can take from these events?
- What actions can I take to best use these experiences to improve my life?
Next, find some time for yourself to meditate on these questions, whether it be an hour or an afternoon. Keep a pen and paper handy to record any light bulb moments!
When it comes to setting new year’s resolutions, the research shows that most people typically set broad goals that require a long-term behavior change – for example, ‘This year I’m getting in shape,’ or ‘I resolve positively build upon our experiences to quit smoking for good.’
However, the issue with vague statements like these is that they lack both the depth and the specificity we need to give them power. Let’s quickly explore how to create expectations for the year in a meaningful and actionable way.
Start with why
To sustain the long-term motivation needed to succeed, we need to uncover why a specific goal is fundamental to our overriding sense of self. The best way to do this – as any four-year-old can tell you – is to ask why, over and over.
Rather than give clear examples, it may be best for you to simply think of some of the outcomes you want for yourself in the next year and ask yourself, ‘Why do I want this?’. Repeat two or three times, and you’ll uncover something fundamental to who you are.
Now the how
While the exercise above is crucial to maintaining your resilience against setbacks along the way, these statements of why are not necessarily actionable in our day-to-day lives, so, the next step is to break down the goal into small tasks we can do daily to inch our way towards the desired outcome.
Make these steps as small and straightforward as possible. Instead of devising some complicated meal plan and intense exercise regime, keep a glass of water and your walking shoes next to the bed for when you wake up. Or download an inspirational personal development podcast episode to listen to on the commute to work. Start small, and build upon your successes as you gain momentum.
While the advice above is helpful for those who know what they want from the coming year, not everyone has clarity on what they want for their future. To make things a little easier to manage, we’ve categorized potential life goals into four main categories to give you some inspiration.
The following are examples of how to enhance your goals by connecting with the intrinsic meaning behind them and creating concrete steps that you can act on right away.
- ‘I want to achieve a healthy weight so I can enjoy active time with my children. I’ll start by buying healthy snacks such as fruit and nuts to take to work and always taking the stairs instead of the elevator’.
- ‘I want to avoid the common health complications in my family. I’ll replace my evening beers with a non-alcoholic version and call my friend to organize our basketball games twice a week again’.
- ‘I want to have more energy again to be more productive at work. I’ll set the alarm to turn my devices off one hour before bed and start cooking more instead of getting takeout’.
Personal finance and education
- ‘I want to take more control of my career. I can create a list of ways to add value at work and plan to ask for a raise at the next opportunity.
- ‘I want to love what I do. I’ll set aside one hour a day to research and start a side project and find a way to monetize it so I can work toward leaving my job for one that I’m excited for’.
- ‘I want to feel more financially secure. I will create a budget and define a clear savings goal to have money set aside for emergencies.
- ‘I want to connect more deeply with my partner. I’ll create a list of things they love, and I’ll surprise them with a small act of love each week.
- ‘I want to keep my relationship with my friends. I can take charge and be the one to reach out with a call or message, and organize get-togethers to stay close’.
- ‘I want to spend more quality time with my family. This year we’ll have dinner together at the table and enjoy each other’s company.
Happiness and fulfillment
- ‘I want to feel more content with life. I’ll buy an excellent journal and pen to keep by the bedside, and each morning I’ll write down three things I’m so grateful for in life.
- ‘I want to slow down and reduce my stress. I can download a meditation app and take 10 minutes before bed to relax and let go’.
- ‘I want to leave my mark on the world. I’ll find some local charity groups and volunteer my time once a week’.
In closing, the world can throw some immense challenges our way, and it can be hard to know what to expect from the future. The important thing is to take control of what we can and move forward with a positive mindset.
We hope this article has helped inspire you to have a fantastic new year! Please leave a comment below with your goals for the year ahead.