Being a fan of setting goals, crafting vision boards, and adding to my list of things to manifest, I have a soft spot for New Year’s. The start of the year is brimming with opportunities, and the promise of a new beginning on January 1 never loses its magic. However, the weeks leading up to it tell a different tale.

The final two months of the year are arguably the most hectic for many. With the culmination of big holidays, packed schedules, and an unspoken pressure to create a magical season, it’s a recipe for burnout. Then comes the somewhat disorienting week between Christmas and New Year’s, typically filled with naps, leftovers, and a lost sense of time. And suddenly, it’s 2024.

In theory, one could attempt to plan out the upcoming year amidst gift shopping and cookie baking, or during that short period after Christmas. But for me, a breather is much needed! Hence, I’m giving myself some leniency and not stressing about setting goals or intentions for 2024 by January 1. If you also prefer a gentler start to the year, you’re in good company. Take a moment to relax, breathe deeply, and explore some tips on how to ease into 2024 feeling composed, centered, and confident without committing to resolutions by New Year’s Day.

1. Allow Yourself Time to Rest

Feeling utterly exhausted by the end of the year might make looking ahead to the next one seem daunting. Instead of piling more on your plate, consider removing some tasks if possible and prioritize genuine rest. While this may be challenging, especially for those who thrive on productivity or feel the need to stay constantly busy (speaking from experience here), remember that giving your mind and body a chance to unwind and recharge will actually help clarify your New Year’s resolutions and goals when the timing is right. So, clear your schedule, settle onto the couch, and relax—be it at the tail end of December or midway through January. You deserve it!

2. Reflect Before You Move Forward

Taking time to review the past year is always beneficial before deciding on your pursuits for the new year. It’s perfectly fine to reflect well into January if that feels right for you. What were the highlights of 2023? What lessons did you learn? How would you approach things differently in the upcoming year? The ups and downs of 2023 can guide your direction for 2024, and you can reflect in a way that suits you best. Whether you prefer jotting down your thoughts, discussing your year with a loved one, or quietly reflecting through meditation, there’s no one-size-fits-all method for reflection and intention setting—make the timeline your own.

3. Embrace Daydreaming

Following a chaotic holiday season, you may yearn for calm moments that allow your mind to wander and dream. Quiet periods are perfect for letting your thoughts roam freely and envisioning the year ahead. The best ideas often emerge when we’re at ease, engaged in simple tasks like driving, showering, or household chores. Switch off your devices, minimize distractions when possible, and give yourself the space to daydream about what lies ahead. This doesn’t have to be a deliberate effort—simply allowing yourself time to unwind can prompt your mind to wander, even leading you to exciting visions of your future.

4. Focus on Simple Intentions

Depending on the year you’ve just had, perhaps setting highly specific New Year’s resolutions is precisely what you need. However, there’s also value in keeping things uncomplicated. If you lack specific goals for 2024, consider selecting a word or a straightforward mantra to serve as your guiding light throughout the year. For instance, in 2023, my theme was all about having more fun. Previous words of the year for me have included “joy,” “courage,” and “power.” Even without foreknowledge of where these words would lead me, they influenced my decisions throughout the year and helped me establish daily routines and habits. I did indeed experience more joy in 2023 than in a long while, and it was all due to the intention I set for myself at the start of the year.

5. Take Your Time

If you feel lagging behind in setting New Year’s resolutions, consider this as your permit to let go of the pressure. It’s absolutely fine if you’re unsure about what to focus on in 2024 or if you question the necessity of having a vision at all. Rather than viewing January 1 as a strict deadline, view January as a whole month for introspection, intention-setting, and goal creation for the year ahead. No rush required—simply trust in the timing of your life. You’ve got this!


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