8 Tips to Getting Unstuck in the New Year

From resolutions to new hobbies and changing up your daily routine, small steps can mean big changes in 2023.

It’s that time again. With the dawn of a New Year comes resolutions, reflection, and oftentimes, renewed hope for the year ahead. Whether you’re reeling from the events of 2022, or reveling in them, like it or not, you’re stepping forward into a new year.

But, what happens if you feel stuck? Like, you know you need to move forward but you just can’t? You could be stuck in your old ways or stuck in a rut. Either way, you’re just… stuck.

Whenever you feel this way, it’s important to get clear on which aspect of your life that feeling is coming from. “Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to get centered. Then ask yourself if it’s your health, relationship, career, money mentality, mindset, sense of purpose, or something else? All of the above? Sit with this question by meditating on it or by journaling about it, and see what comes up,” advises Nicole Mixdorf, founder of Balance by Nature

Research has found that 69% of people feel trapped in the same old routine, and just three out of every ten people are happy with their lives. That means the other 70% are heading into 2023 carrying those same old feelings of unhappiness, unworthiness and even despair. 

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But chin up — time to shed that old baggage and get unstuck from whatever is keeping you firmly planted in the past. The future’s so bright, well, you know the rest. Here are eight ways to get unstuck in 2023.

1. Change up your routine

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Ok, we get it. Easier said than done. But you can start with something small. “Identify two ways you can change up any day-to-day monotony to create new experiences and opportunities of engagement in your life,” advises Adora Winquist, spiritual teacher and author of Detox, Nourish, Activate: Plant and Vibrational Medicine for Energy, Mood and Love. “Drive a new way to work or to the grocery store, learn a new skill, try a new hobby or even consider a new career path,” she says. 

Setting smaller goals allows people to progress over the year and feel a sense of accomplishment, which can reinforce bigger goals and more progress in the future. “For example, if physical activity isn’t currently a part of your life, but you would like it to be, I would suggest a goal as simple as going for a five minute walk (or another type of movement that you enjoy). After a few successful weeks, maybe that becomes a ten minute walk, then maybe multiple 10-minute walks a day, and so on from there,” says Jessica Watrous, clinical psychologist and director of clinical and scientific affairs at Modern Health. 

2. Take honest inventory of daily habits

Are there any daily habits that do not serve you well? Take a look at your life through an honest lens. “For instance, take into account your exercise and diet. Do you consume excess sugar, fats, alcohol, caffeine or other substances?,” asks Winquist. This could be a good place to start when looking to make a healthy change. 
Also, consider your practices of self-care and what garbage you’re feeding yourself with your self-talk (if any), and your emotional peaks and valleys. “What healthier habit practices and positive outlooks can you adopt? Negative influences in your life, whether it’s toxic relationships or environmental conditions, all contribute to unhealthy choices. Pick two areas of your life and transform them by taking small and practical steps,” explains Winquist.
Remember, new habits do not form overnight so be patient with yourself. Studies suggest it can take two months, or more. “Be realistic and set realistic goals, and know that it takes time and consistency to see results,” says Tawnya Selby, a certified personal trainer at Planet Fitness in Loveland, CO.
“Don’t jump in full speed trying to change all of your habits all at once and workout seven days a week. Start slow, with one or two changes at first. Look at your ultimate goal and break it down into steps,” says Selby. “You can make a road map of small goals to get to the ultimate goal.” 
This could also be how you frame this goal in your mind. For instance, “instead of saying that you’re going to “stop watching Netflix,” which feels so restrictive that every time you watch Netflix, you might feel guilty and just give up on the goal; instead frame this goal in an additive way, maybe something like “I’m going to do a hobby I enjoy for ten minutes each day,” you can focus on the joy you’re incorporating into your life which is inherently positive and reinforcing and the reason you likely set this goal in the first place,” says Dr. Watrous.

“When we feel more reinforcement from achieving our goals, we’re more likely to stick with them in the long run,” she adds. 

3. Dream your desires into reality

Recent studies show that the brain does not differentiate between actual and imagined experience. With that in mind, it’s time to think about what unrealized dreams you might have for yourself.
“Spend five minutes a day daydreaming those heartfelt desires, and put pen to paper and start to imagine yourself living those dreams in your everyday life,” says Winquist. “Do you have a desire for a healthier, more energized body? Deeper intimacy in your relationships? A companion to plan a life together? More money in the bank? You are filled with potential. Tap into your subconscious and dream your desires into reality,” she adds. 

4. Cultivate a gratitude practice

Focusing on thankfulness can quickly uplift our emotional outlook and transform us from a sense of feeling stuck — to one of liberation. “Numerous studies reveal beneficial effects of gratitude on the brain, including an increase of ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine, that generate feelings of wellbeing,” explains Winquist.
Create a simple daily gratitude practice. “Upon waking, reflect on one thing you are grateful for — even if it’s just the miracle of a new day! This creates positive energy to move through your day. Before you retire for the evening, identify one aspect of your day to be thankful for. Bring your day full circle,” she suggests. 

5. Take a hike

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If traditional meditation doesn’t really work for you and you need something a little more physical, try a “milestone hike.” Much like life’s up and downs, a hike up a mountain is metaphorical — and can also be quite inspirational, too.

Find a hike nearby with an easily hike-able summit or view,” suggests Mothers’ Quest life and leadership coach Julie Neale. “On the way up, reflect on the year that has closed. Take yourself through the months and remember the moments that mattered. Identify the challenges and the successes,” she explains. 

When you get to the top, “take in the full view around you, and identify the lessons you’ve learned and what you want to carry forward with you, and also want you want to let go of. Draw or imagine a line in the ground, and when you are ready intentionally cross over. At the Summit, you can also write notes to capture your reflections,” continues Neale. 

But the practice doesn’t end there. “On the way down the Summit, let yourself dream. Think about all the things you’d like to do in this new year. More than that, think about how you want to feel and how you want to be. At the bottom of the hike, capture the thoughts and intentions that came to you,” she adds. 

6. Take the pressure off January

Oftentimes, we go into January with gusto, having all these great intentions for the changes we’ll be making. But it can get overwhelming trying to do everything at once, which leads to giving up before month’s end. 

While some people feel particularly motivated to make changes at the beginning of a new year, it’s important to remember that you can make changes whenever you’re ready, not just at the beginning of a new year, new month, or new week. “If you find the new year to be a symbolic time for change that you like to take advantage of, great! But if the pressure of the new year is overwhelming and counterproductive that’s also fine – you don’t have to do anything. Remember that making healthy changes for yourself can happen whenever you’d like,” says Dr. Watrous. 

Instead, give yourself the whole month to reflect and dream on your hopes and intentions for the new year. “This more closely follows the cycle of nature, where January is still a time to ‘winter.’ When we take away the idea that we need it all figured out by Jan. 1st, we give ourselves the space we need to begin the year well,” says Neale. 


7. Know your why

What is your deep-down motivation for change? This is important because this is what keeps you from giving up. 

“Write it down and put it somewhere where you will see it,” advises Selby. “This could be as simple as a sticky note on the refrigerator or as big as a vision board with photos and quotes for continued motivation. You can be as creative and detailed as you feel like you need it to be,” she says. 

8. Bottom line… don’t give up

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If you find yourself slipping back into old habits, remember that consistency is super important. “Nothing happens overnight, and you will get out of it what you put into it. That doesn’t mean you should beat yourself up and quit as soon as you miss a day at the gym, or eat something you shouldn’t have. Show yourself grace, get up, and start again.  Keep on starting again until it is a habit,” says Selby.

Going in with the mindset that there will be ups and downs with making behavioral changes can help remind you that those ups and downs are normal and keep you motivated toward working toward your long-term goals, experts say. “Setting this expectation at the beginning can prevent you from feeling discouraged when you may not be progressing in the way you hoped down the road,” states Dr. Watrous. 

Jené Luciani Sena
Jené Luciani Sena is an accredited journalist and internationally-renowned bestselling author, regularly seen on national TV outlets such as Access Daily, Today and Dr Oz. Touted as one of Woman’s World Magazine’s “Ultimate Experts,” she’s a TEDTalk speaker and a busy Mom of 4. Read more
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