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What I Wish I Would’ve Known About Resetting for the New Year

Student studying in a natural setting

When the clock strikes midnight and the calendar updates a digit, there’s celebration. It’s January 1 and the feeling of a new beginning sets in. But when that excitement wears off a week to a month later and reality sets in, I begin to realize I’ve already set unrealistic expectations on myself. I assumed I’d have my life together and keep it together. Sound familiar?

Each year holds its own unexpected challenges. Each year is a new opportunity to navigate how to thrive in spite of those challenges.

No one has their life together perfectly, but there are a few things that can be done to start the new year in a positive place.

Replenish your soul

The first thing I wish I would’ve known is that rest is not optional. Sure —- go work hard, make the most of every opportunity — but make time for regular rest. Schedule it into your day.

When I say I don’t have time to relax or take a break my mom says, “sometimes you don’t have time to not take rest”. I’ve learned that it’s not worth it to keep pushing when I have no energy because what I half-heartedly accomplish isn’t going to be quality and I’m not going to enjoy the process.

Take time to do the things that replenish your soul whether it’s spending quality time with people, going outdoors or reading a good book.

Getting back into the regular swing of life after the holidays can be hard. It’s important to set the intention to focus on the positive. Something my counselor told me is that human brains are wired to travel down the negative neural pathways more easily than the positive ones. If it feels like it takes effort to stay positive, it’s because it really does.

Do something that helps you actively focus on the good throughout the year. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Every time something good happens in your life, write it down.

Jot down the good things that happen on a strip of paper and keep them in a jar. At the end of the year, you’ll have a year’s worth of good things collected to look back on and be grateful for.

  • Keep a journal.

Practice gratitude and write down what you’re grateful for every day.

  • Write down the highlight of each day.

Keep a log of memories to reminisce at the end of the year

  • Take a photo or short video of something that makes you happy each day, week or month.

Add them to an album on your phone labeled with the year so you can see all the happy moments. You can print out the photos later and make a book out of them or make a video montage.

  • Give yourself time each week — an hour, a whole day, however long — to meditate on what is good.

There’s even a place on campus called the resiliency room where you can go to do this.

Pick a word for the year

Another way to actively reset your mindset is by picking a theme word to focus on for the whole year. It can be something you want more of in your life, a quality you want to possess or an idea that you want to reflect on.

In the past some of the words I’ve chosen to live out include balance, focus, faith and growth.

Last year my word was “love”. I wanted to love well in the areas that came naturally and especially in the areas that were challenging. I studied it, observed it, practiced it and let it be the lens I viewed my life through.

When things felt out of control, I had to return to the promise I made to myself to love and let myself be loved regardless of circumstances.

Set goals and check in

Be SMART about setting goals:







One year my goal was to “be healthier”. Real specific, I know! I had no way to gauge if my health was improving in the ways I wanted it to because my goal was too broad and vague. An example of a smarter goal would be “eat vegetables, protein, and carbs with every meal three times a day for nine months.”

I wish I would’ve known to check in on myself more often instead of trying to plow through. Sometimes I do a “brain dump” where I put everything that’s overwhelming me on a piece of paper and circle the things I have control over. Asking myself questions like “What is going well and what is not? What needs to change? What do I need to do to reach my goals?”. Doing this regularly would keep me on track before I resorted to a brain dump.

When I think of “getting my life together” I think of being organized. First, I determine a schedule and routine that will keep me on track with work, school and life. Then, I like to declutter whatever I can — both material and digital. My closet, my car, my camera roll, my inbox my followers. I recommend going on a social media detox. I did this over Christmas break to live with fewer distractions and have more time back in my day to do more constructive things —- like picking up a book! It feels so much better filling my head with knowledge rather than the highlights of whatever everyone else is doing.

Next up is budgeting. Every year I plan a budget that I tend to do a poor job sticking to. One of the books I picked up over break is about finances so I think I’m headed in the right direction! Stay tuned for a potential story on how to budget better if it works out for me.

Give yourself grace

I tend to be a perfectionist and don’t extend grace to myself very easily, so recognizing that I’m going to fall short of my expectations is necessary for growth.

Sometimes your goals need to be readjusted along the way and that’s okay. It’s called having margin in your life. In this fast-paced world, the last thing we need to do is overload ourselves to the breaking point. Let’s reset and start the year with fresh intention.

Be kind to yourself and others. It’s everyone’s first time navigating 2024 and we’re not going to do it perfectly.


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  • Molly


    Content Writer