A new year always ushers in aspirations for the 365 days to come.
But New Year’s "resolutions" get a bad rap, sometimes so much so that people forgo them all together.
Whether you’ve set a goal or aspiration for yourself in 2024, here are some tips to making your vision come true, and some other small, specific things you could start doing that are sure to bring big changes ahead:
Set a small goal
Whatever you may be thinking of implementing into or changing about your life, start small.
"When we set small attainable goals, we feel a sense of accomplishment that allows us to build on our goals versus feeling defeated by not completing a daunting one," Calm’s Chief Clinical Officer, Chris Mosunic, tells FOX Television Stations. Calm is a meditation, sleep and relaxation app to help with mental wellness.
Small goal ideas that Mosunic suggests include: morning walks, a short 1-minute breathing exercise between meetings, journaling once a week, calling a friend or family member 15 minutes once a week, or a consistent bedtime.
Once you start hitting your small goal they can become routine, which is a boost to anyone’s mental wellbeing.
"When planned effectively, your daily rituals can reduce stress, improve decision-making, and set the stage for a healthier, happier life," Mousnic said.
But remember it’s OK if something comes up that disrupts your routine.
"It’s also important to allow a sense of flexibility with your routines, as life doesn’t always allow us to accomplish our set routines every day, and that’s okay."
Reduce or cut out alcohol
Perhaps you’ve heard of the social phenomenon "Dry January," in which one cuts alcohol from their life for the month.
Even if it’s for the fun of a social challenge, reducing your alcohol intake can be beneficial to your health and well-being.
"Dry January helps us evaluate our relationship with alcohol," Director Dr. George F. Koob with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) says.
"Paying attention to how someone feels while taking a break from alcohol can provide a great deal of insight into why one is drinking in the first place and whether they want to return to it after the break."
Whether you’re feeling anxious about not accomplishing your new year’s goals, or stressing about something bigger, Mosunic encourages us to rethink the concept of failure.
He says that’s been one of the changes that has brought the greatest positive shift in his life.
"When we reframe failure from "something to be avoided" to embracing it as the only way we are going to grow, it stops us from procrastinating," he explains. "It allows us to jump in and get to the failure faster so we can quickly learn from it and move forward. A true growth mindset means failing all the time and embracing it."
"Gratitude can feel like a buzzword for some, but it’s a practice that can have a significant impact on our brains, bodies, and overall well-being," Mosunic says.
You can practice gratefulness in your mind, with a pen and paper, or digitally on your phone or tablet.
A woman using the Calm app's "The Daily Calm" meditation. The Calm app also offers daily gratitude check-ins. Image: Calm
"In its simplest form, gratitude is the act of feeling grateful for what you have – people, events, circumstances or even intangibles such as good health or personal growth," Mosunic adds. "It’s also an act of mindfulness. A moment to take a deep breath, slow your mind down, and actively focus on the good in your life."
You could start small by writing down or making a mental note of one thing you’re grateful for each week, and eventually go bigger by reflecting or naming multiple items per day.
Stop ignoring your finances
Money is a source of stress for countless Americans, especially as of late due to inflation, high interest loans and the resumption of student loan payments.
Having a plan for your money and knowing where it’s going – towards debt, in a savings account, or being spent on something you really love – can create a sense of control, reduce stress and anxiety, and help with decision-making when it comes to spending.
Evaluating your income and calculating how much of that is being spent on necessities, such as housing and groceries, and how much is being spent on debt, can show you where you may need to cut back – but can also help you create a spending plan that directs money in your savings account and also into your spending pocket.
Take "microbreaks" at work
Work is a common source of stress, no matter the job, yet employees often feel guilty or anxious when it comes to taking breaks or time off.
"The stigma around taking breaks needs to change, and that starts with people leaders and workplaces being an example," Mosunic says.
He writes more in depth about the benefits of taking microbreaks here, but some suggestions are:
- Close your eyes and take five deep breaths
- Schedule meetings that aren’t rounded up to the nearest hour of half-hour
- Arrive to your meeting 1 minute late to give you a moment to breathe deeply and regroup
- Get up from your desk to grab a drink throughout the day
- Kick off your meetings with a breathing exercise
- Change the environment where you take your breaks
This story was reported from Detroit.