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.
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
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
“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
4. Cultivate a gratitude practice
5. Take a hike
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
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.