As we collectively embark on 2023 (will it ever stop feeling like time stopped in 2020?), most of us think about what we’ve accomplished in the previous year and then take on what has become the socially obligatory task of setting resolutions for the future.
I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions because I don’t think you need to wait for the start of a new calendar year to take steps towards the change you desire in your life. However, since 2022 was a year of radical change for me, and maybe for you, too, I’d like to share how to establish a framework that will help you to reorient yourself and plan a successful New Year.
A Recap of 2022
In 2022, I quit my corporate job of 10 years, closed the doors of a successful online business I had built during the pandemic, an embarked on a lengthy international trip with the intent to live as a local instead of just going on a vacation. I drastically minimized my belongings because I wanted as little visual and mental clutter as possible. As the rest of the world started to go back to “normal,” I started off fresh and began learning new skills that would help me on my journey as a writer, including starting this blog.
I’m not going to lie to you, recovering from a job that suffocated your spirit for a decade is not a short or easy road. I thought that as soon as I signed off my work computer for the last time, I would suddenly feel like my old self again. Then I thought maybe once I returned the equipment, or got my last paycheck, or a month had gone by, I would notice a huge change. That wasn’t my reality though.
It took months to regain my love of reading, my desire to learn new things, my drive to write and to help others. My brain had been on autopilot for so long, because I was numbing myself to what I thought was my inevitable reality, that it seemed as if my neurons had just stopped firing. In a lot of ways, I felt lifeless. My main escape and coping mechanism for so many years was watching TV shows and movies, because it allowed me to forget my life and just be in someone else’s reality for a time, and that was a hard habit to break.
Once I started reading again though, it was all I wanted to do, and that eventually led me back to the first love of my life – writing. I started to walk daily, and spend time outside in nature with Griffin, and it felt as if the walls I had built up around myself had started to come down. I was still preoccupied by events going on in the world which stirred up anxiety and sadness, but it no longer clouded my entire reality.
Identifying your Goals
My goals for a successful New Year will likely be different from yours, and that’s how it should be. We are all unique, and at different parts of our journey, but what I encourage you to do is identify 3 things that will have a positive effect on your overall well-being whether that be on your mental health, your sense of self, your physical capabilities, or something else.
You don’t have to choose things that will make you more successful, or more popular, or more wealthy. It doesn’t have to be things other people notice – although I admit external validation can sometimes be nice. Dig deep to identify what’s important to you and what makes you happy.
As I said earlier, this can be difficult, and sometimes, you might have to think all the way back to childhood. Whether you start big or small in your goals, break them down into specific and achievable steps, so you’re less likely to get overwhelmed and abandon your progress.
Some examples of daily habits I dedicated at least 30 days to in 2022 to see if they improved my everyday life were drinking at least 64 oz of water, walking, stretching, reading for 30 min either for pleasure or self-advancement, meditating, and journaling.
I found some of these were very helpful, but others felt like a chore, even after the time period they should have become routine. You won’t know until you give it a try though. It’s important to know when to abandon a practice if it’s not providing you any value. Give it a fair shot, but if it’s not enriching your life, let it go. Just because it worked for others doesn’t mean it has to work for you.
3 Steps to a Successful New Year
Seize opportunities to grow my skill set.
This one may sound vague at first, so let me expand. For many years I thought the only way I could grow my skill set was by being provided opportunities at my job, or going back to school. The truth is, there’s a wealth of content online (a lot of it free) that will help you become more self-sufficient, more knowledgeable, and more prepared for the life you desire.
It was hard for me to transition to e-learning, and for a long time, without taking a test or being in a group environment and getting that positive reinforcement from a grade or from my peers, I didn’t get much satisfaction from learning.
A lesson I learned in the years leading up to 2022 is that if you are always waiting for others to guide your advancement, you won’t get very far. You need to recognize your capability for growth and take charge of it.
In 2022, I started out with learning SEO basics and taking blogging and copywriting courses, and I already feel so much more capable than when I first started out. In 2023, I will be scheduling a daily block of time for learning, and I intend to sign up for a membership with either Udemy or Skillshare (will share my reasoning once I decide which one would be better for me).
In my experience, the more I learn, the more ambition and confidence I have and I want to stoke that fire rather than falling back into complacency.
Search out job opportunities that I can take pride in and that allow me to pursue my passions.
In order to quit my job, I saved enough money to survive for up to a year, while I took a much needed break and reoriented myself in a pretty chaotic post-pandemic world. For the first couple of months, I told myself I wouldn’t think about a career at all.
In my mind, if I was fixated on what to do for a living, I wouldn’t be able to get in touch with my true self – who I was before a decade of work that made me feel unappreciated, stagnant, burnt out, and gave me no pride in the work I was doing but at the same time enforced the idea I should be grateful for my vacation time, insurance and 401k match.
I know that to make 2023 a successful New Year in the professional sense, I need to look for more than just a steady paycheck and benefits. As evidenced by The Great Resignation, I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. The necessity for remote work during the pandemic provided a lot of people, including myself, the space and opportunity to really acknowledge the mental and physical toll their jobs took on them.
Going forward, I intend to apply for companies with transparent ethics and policies that promote a healthy work-life balance. Since working remotely is necessary for me to pursue my passions of traveling and writing, I don’t plan on considering jobs that don’t afford me the ability to pursue those passions.
Lucky for me, a lot of companies have realized the benefits of offering remote work and there are numerous job sites dedicated to only remote opportunities including Dynamite Jobs, We Work Remotely, ProBlogger Job Board, and more.
I know that finding the right job for me won’t be easy, but it’s definitely not impossible. Rather than taking the easy road and once again settling for work that won’t bring me pride and joy, my goal for 2023 is to be persistent and unwavering in what is most important to me. Even if I have to treat applying for jobs, like a job, for the next 6 months.
Embrace my creativity.
One of the worst side effects of working a corporate desk job was that I stopped feeling inspired by anything. I was so mentally exhausted by the end of each work day, I basically just ate dinner, watched TV, and went to bed, only to wake up the next day and do it all over again. The only time I really felt any spark of that creativity that was once so evident in my personality was during my 2 week vacation when I visited a new country.
During the pandemic, I didn’t even have that.
In my late teens and early 20’s, I wrote short stories and poetry, I took art classes, listened to new music, and went to museums as often as I could. By my late 20’s, I did none of those things.
In the spring of 2021, I spontaneously signed up for a collage art class at a local museum because I was so tired of being trapped inside staring at my computer I couldn’t stand it anymore. I mainly did it as a way to interact with people, because at that time, my only social exposure was my family and partner and I was quite honestly worried I’d forgotten how to be a normal person.
That class really reminded me what the joy of creating things feels like, and how much I’d been missing.
So, my final goal in 2023 is to nurture my creative side. I hope to sign up for another art class, but also plan to continue collaging at least a few days a week, and maybe even start writing poetry again.
Tell me, what is one of your goals to ensure a successful New Year…?
Your goals inspire me, too!
2 thoughts on “Plan a Successful New Year”
2023 Resolutions: (1) Be more aware of my physical limitations; (2) Be more open-minded and broad-minded; (3) Set and enforce clear boundaries when interacting with toxic people; (4) Become more minimalist.
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I love these, especially 1 and 3! And becoming more minimalist always feels good.