Written by Natalie Glennon
If 2023 wasn’t exactly your year, it might be tempting to think of 2024 as a fresh start and embrace the “new year, new me” trend. But this mindset can actually set you up for failure.
When we attempt to transform ourselves entirely in the new year, we prevent ourselves from accessing valuable insight based on the choices we’ve made in the past. This also leads us to put immense pressure on our new goals, making us more likely to give up if we fall off track.
If you want to set meaningful, attainable goals, reflecting on the past year is a crucial first step. Reflection helps us understand our experiences, recognize patterns of behavior, and make changes that will facilitate progress and growth.
Once we have that insight, we can set intentions and follow through with our plans. Research shows that you are more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down, find accountability from your peers, and commit to action-oriented steps. To help you get started, I broke down this whole process into 5 easy steps that will set you up for a mindful and successful new year.
1. Reflect through journaling
Journaling is one of the most effective ways to practice introspection and analyze our experiences. Writing about our reflections allows us to not only gain new perspectives on life, but also become aware of emotions that are hiding just under the surface. Here are some prompts to help you reflect on the past year, inspired by our Wildflower Company Planners:
- What happened last year? Take a moment to jot down your highs, lows, and everything in between.
- Which areas of your life received the most and least attention?
- What worked and what didn’t work for you?
- What do you want to leave in 2023? What did you learn from it?
To take this practice even further, you could conduct a life audit, which involves assessing how your current reality aligns with your values and desires. No matter how you journal, remember to reflect not just on what happened, but also how you felt.
2. Write down manageable goals
Once you’ve reflected on 2023, you probably know what kind of energy and intentions you want to bring into the new year. First, take some time to dream big and write down your broad or long-term goals as well as how they specifically align with your values. This can provide you with motivation as you remind yourself why these goals are uniquely meaningful to you.
Then—and this is the important part—break down your goals into short-term, bite-sized pieces. It can be so easy to fixate on our long-term goals and feel overwhelmed by how far away we are from achieving them. The key is to start with small, action-oriented goals that you can realistically stick to consistently. As you form these habits, you can celebrate wins and remind yourself that every effort counts. This is the way to build sustainable progress.
3. Find accountability
Mutual accountability is one of the most powerful influences that drives success in reaching our goals. Whether you partner up with a friend or join an accountability group, sharing your short- and long-term goals with like-minded people makes you more likely to follow through with your plans than if you were going at it alone.
It can be difficult to find a supportive community that meets your needs, which is why our Accountability Group is structured to provide all the essentials when it comes to goal-setting. From monthly check-ins to meaningful reflections, our Accountability Group provides guidance on setting mindful goals, focusing on personal growth, and creating a life that aligns with your values. If you’re the type of person that thrives off of structured connection and positive reinforcement, I’d highly recommend you join this group to stick with your goals and feel good about them.
4. Track your progress
Regularly tracking our progress allows us to assess what’s working and what’s not working while ensuring that we stay on track with our goals. Looking at how far we’ve come in a certain amount of time can also serve as a great motivator for keeping up the hard work. However, it’s important to be realistic about the progress you expect to see, and embrace flexibility if things don’t go as planned.
In addition to tracking your objective progress, track your feelings associated with your goals. Make note of how it feels when you accomplish a small win, and remind yourself of that feeling in the future. In that same vein, notice how it feels when you fall short of your expectations. Rather than magnifying that experience and letting it reinforce negative thought patterns, try to accept that it is all part of the process. There will always be ups and downs when it comes to pursuing goals. If you feel tempted to quit because of your setbacks, that might just be a sign that you need to reframe the way you think of failure or readjust your goal to better align with your lifestyle.
For extra convenience, our Wildflower Company Planners provide comprehensive schedules, weekly habit trackers, and thoughtful check-ins so that you can keep your progress and reflections all in one place.
5. Readjust your goals
If you happen to find that your goal is no longer serving you—whether that means it’s too out of reach, you’ve outgrown it, or you’ve shifted your priorities—that’s more than okay! Goals can—and should—change over time as we flow through different phases of life and the cycles of being human. Readjusting your goals does NOT mean that you failed. In fact, it demonstrates openness to change and new experiences that will benefit you because they are more aligned with your lifestyle.
Challenge yourself to reframe failure and embrace flexibility and self-compassion throughout the process of goal-setting. When we allow for circumstances to change and we accept that things might not go as planned, we become more adaptable, motivated, and resilient—and more likely to solidify the long-term habits that truly matter.
If you want some extra support to get started, we’ve got your back! You can access our workshop replay on Reflecting on 2022 & Planning for 2023 for FREE! We’ll go through these steps and ensure that you have a thoughtful, energizing game plan for the new year.