Ditch the new year’s resolutions — here’s how to make 2023 your best year yet

 (Nicole Engelmann)
(Nicole Engelmann)

And just like that: another year over. And another collective sigh of exhaustion to go with it, if you were one of those who thought 2021 was the most challenging year yet – until 2022 came around.

Getting to the end of each day might feel like enough of an ask amid the cost-of-living crisis and depressing news cycle, let alone making plans and thinking up big dreams. Then again: sometimes, it’s when times are hard that we need those small moments of joy, fulfillment and hope the most.

New year’s resolutions might not be the most productive way to enter a fresh new year – studies show that just 92 per cent of us fail to keep them – but that doesn’t mean we can’t use the fresh start to slow down, take stock and think about our goals. So ditch the unrealistic pledges and promises; here are six more practical steps to making 2023 your best year yet.

Reflect on the year you’ve just lived through

Before you go rushing forward into planning the next year, it’s important that you first take a moment to reflect on the year you’ve just been through – the happiest moments, the challenges you’ve overcome and all that you’ve learnt along the way.

Not only can this help you to process and acknowledge what you’ve been through, it can also help you to clear up what you want the next year to be all about.

Get clear on what ingredients you need to feel happy, alive and fulfilled

 (Selina Barker)
(Selina Barker)

The key to designing a life you love is knowing the ingredients you need to feel happy, alive and fulfilled: the activities, the daily practices, the people, the places, the simple pleasures.

Start by writing down what activities make you come alive, whether it be dancing, collaborating, cooking or problem solving, then write down what daily practices help you to thrive, be it yoga, journaling, exercise or eight hours of sleep.

Next, work out which simple pleasures lift your spirits in life – is it reading a novel? Buying fresh flowers? Catching up with old friends? These are the ingredients you want to be designing into your life as much as possible in 2023 – we’ll move onto how to do that in just a moment.

Set an intention for the year that helps you to flourish

Setting an intention for your year helps to anchor you to something that is important to you in life. It doesn’t have to be a resolution: it can simply be something that inspires you and helps to guide the choices that you make and the actions that you take throughout the year.

You might set an intention around how you want to feel in 2023, such as ‘2023 is my year of calm’, or it might be a a positive change you want to bring about in your life, such as ‘2023 is my year of changing career’. It could even be an experience you want more of in the coming year, such as ‘2023 is my year of fun’.

Allow yourself to dream

 (Nicole Engelmann)
(Nicole Engelmann)

We have a unique ability, as human beings, of being able to dream things up and then turn those dreams into reality. But many of us are told to stop dreaming as we grow up – and so it often requires us to give ourselves permission to dream of the life we really want to be living.

Get started by imagining your dream life five years from now – where do you live? What work do you do? What is it about your life that brings you so much joy? And then write down which of those dreams you want to start bringing to life in 2023.

Turn your dreams into practical projects

Once you know what life you dream of living, it’s time to turn that dream into practical projects. Start by choosing a dream that you feel most drawn to and write down on a post-it note (to keep it simple and stop yourself from overthinking it): what the project is, when each week you’re going to spend time on the project and what steps you need to take to get things started.

For example, your dream might be to move abroad – so the practical project could be to explore possible new homes abroad in 2023. Perhaps Wednesday night will be the night that you focus on the project and take action around it, and the first step might be to get in touch with friends that moved abroad to find out how they went about it. It’s that simple.

Use your calendar to design your life and make your dreams come true

 (Selina Barker)
(Selina Barker)

When it comes to designing a life you love, your calendar is your number one tool. It is the true magic wand that helps to take your dreams and intentions off the page and into your life, until you are living them.

Whether you choose a digital or a paper calendar, what you need is a calendar that has hourly slots in it and where you can see the whole week laid out in front of you. Then take the ingredients you need to feel happy and fulfilled, the intention you set for the year, and the practical projects that turn your dreams into reality and schedule them all into your calendar.

Let’s take an example. You might schedule 30 mins of exercise into your morning three days a week, or you might sign up for a yin yoga class as part of your commitment to 2023 being your year of calm. You might book out every Wednesday evening as your ‘project’ night to make that dream happen. All that’s left for you to do now is follow your calendar and step by step you’ll find yourself designing a life you love.

And with every step you take towards bringing your 2023 dream to life, be sure to give yourself a high five, because you are doing what 82 per cent of people don’t ever manage: you are turning your 2023 dreams into your reality.

Selina Barker’s ‘Goodbye 2022, Hello 2023’ journal by Project You is available at weareprojectyou.com