Well, here we are in the early days of a new year. Traditionall..." /> Well, here we are in the early days of a new year. Traditionall..." />

5 Steps to Making This Your Best Year Yet

cheering hiking woman seasideWell, here we are in the early days of a new year. Traditionally, this is the time when we take stock of everything that’s happened in the previous year and then focus on what’s next.

Here are five suggestions for making this year one of your best years ever.

1. Set Attainable Goals

Some of us make New Year’s resolutions, setting goals and lists of things we wish to achieve before the year draws to a close. Whether or not the goals you set for yourself this year are New Year’s resolutions, remember that goal setting is an important part of making change in your life. Even if you don’t attain the goals you set for yourself, simply working toward them may make you happier.

Three things to remember when you set a goal:

  • Get a clear idea about something you really want to achieve. You need to identify and articulate the goal clearly. Put it in writing.
  • Make an actionable plan to work toward achieving the goal. Put this in writing, too.
  • Remember to celebrate your victories.

For more ideas on how to achieve the resolutions you set for yourself, read my article from last month: Six Ways to Make This New Year’s Resolution Stick.

2. Take Care of Yourself

Staying healthy means loving yourself and taking care of yourself. No doubt your time is filled with responsibilities and obligations—taking care of others and meeting the demands of your daily work schedule. Even in the most hectic schedule, though, there are ways of working in practices that will contribute to your overall health.

Taking care of your body:

  • Find ways to make exercise part of your daily routine.
  • Go for a walk during your lunch break.
  • Ride a bicycle to work.
  • Pack a healthy lunch.
  • Make a conscious effort to make all meals healthier.
  • Practice yoga or tai chi.

Feeding your mind:

  • Listen to music or go to concerts more often.
  • Read.
  • Start keeping a journal; record your ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
  • Start making positive affirmations every day.

Nourishing your spirit:

  • Find ways to connect with nature; take up hiking, go for a daily walk, or simply lay on the grass for a little while (weather permitting).
  • Take up the practice of meditation.
  • Find ways to be of service; volunteer in your community.
  • Pray.
  • Love unconditionally and practice forgiveness every day.

3. Count Your Blessings

You’ve all heard the saying: Is the glass half empty or half full? It’s a metaphor for how one approaches life. When we see the glass as half empty, we are taking note of things that we might want but don’t have. When we see the glass as half full, we are focusing on the things we actually have; we are counting our blessings.

According to Dr. Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California and one of the world’s leading scientific experts on gratitude, people who practice gratitude are 25% happier than those who don’t. He suggests a good place to begin is writing down a personal commitment to practicing gratitude and then posting it where you will see it every day.

4. Face Your Fears

We all experience fear from time to time, but if you have fears that are holding you back, then it is time to take stock and take action. It’s time to focus on that fear, acknowledge it, and change the way you think about it. Become curious about it and really delve into it; learn about it. Use your imagination and picture the outcomes you want and then set some small, achievable goals around dealing with your fear.

Celebrate each success.

5. Stay in the Moment

As we go through hectic days, our minds are constantly busy thinking about what’s coming next or lost in worry about what has happened. Being mindful and staying in the moment is often something that has to be learned. Mindfulness is learned from the practice of meditation. There are many forms of meditation that can be practiced easily on your own, without having to join a special group. Read my article, Helpful and Easy Ways to Reduce Stress, to learn easy-to-implement meditation and breathing techniques. No matter what challenges you are facing, choosing to be fully present in the moment will enhance your experiences and make your days less stressful.


  1. Siegel, DJ (2007). The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being. Retrieved from http://www.openground.com.au/articles/Siegel-article.pdf
  2. Emmons, Robert A. (2010). 10 Ways to Become More Grateful. Retrieved from http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/ten_ways_to_become_more_grateful1

© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Douglas Mitchell, LMFT

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • ladyinpink

    January 31st, 2014 at 12:56 PM

    I’m already having a great new year!!!!

  • Ginny

    February 1st, 2014 at 5:20 AM

    What’s really working for me is finding an online support group that is helping me work through some of my demones that I have tried to avoid for a very long time.
    These are people who have been through the same kind of things that I went through growing up, they really get how I am feeling on a day to day basis. I have never been able to find that in someone just in my everyday life.
    But when I am with them and talking to them I feel more free than I have ever been, because they seem to understand all the pain so much better.
    I am hoping that being able to talk things through with some of them, that will help me get to a place where I can leave so much of that pain behind me and feel a little more free to move on.

  • roger t

    February 1st, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    I have had some pretty serious financial setbacks over the past few years and to tell the honest truth they are starting to look insurmountable to me. Do you have any pointers for me? I mean, I face my fears every day and have been very realistic about what I would like to accomplish, but yet there is always something that keeps holding me back and makes me feel like starting the plan isn’t even an option. I don’t know where to start and I am getting more and more frustrated, with myself and the whole entire situation.

  • Dawn Egan

    February 3rd, 2014 at 3:51 AM

    Just making sure that you have friends in your life who will support you and not try to subconsciously hold you back, that’s always something very important to me.

  • lorna

    February 3rd, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    Well I hate it that there is an implication in society that if I don’t meet mmy new years goals then I have failed. I think that this is the wrong sort of mindset to succumb to. There are times when things just become impossible to attain, even when you started out with the very best plan and the best of intentions for success. Life sometimes throws you curveballs that you couldn’t have imagined and then you are left dealing with a whole lot of other things that you didn’t realize would come up. So the ebst thing to do is to not beat yourself up, things will get better, but there may be a few sacrifices and detours that you are forced to make along to way.

  • TiFFani

    February 4th, 2014 at 3:58 AM

    The most important element is to always take care of yourself. This doesn’t have to mean losing weight, but stay fit, eat clean, and relieve the stress in your life. All of these things are going to be very important when you are trying to make some changes in your life and need to be strong to do that.

  • Jake b

    February 5th, 2014 at 3:49 AM

    And you can’t go around beating yourself up every time you get a little off course.
    We all do that right?
    No one can stay this focused and committed all of the time.
    falling off the wagon every now and again is understandable, but you have to dust yourself off and get right back in it again.

  • madison r

    February 6th, 2014 at 3:45 AM

    One mistake that I find that I have always made in the past is trying to hide the truth from other people so I cut myself off from any support that I actually could have had. I am overweight and it feels like every year here I go, onm some new diet and I vow to make a change. But I hide that because I guess maybe I don’t want to call any more attention to the fact that I am fat and need to lose weight, like people don’t already know all of that. So I go it alone but I have no one to whom I am accountable other than me and that hasn’t really ever worked out too well because I can always justify my choices. So I am taking a new approach this year and sharing my work with others so that they might can just give me a little look or a nudge in the right direction if they see that I have veered a little off course. I might get mad but I think that in the end I will be thankful for their support.

  • Richie

    February 10th, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    You can’t go around beating yourself up.
    We all take two steps forward and then a few back. That happens.
    You just dust yourself off and start over again.
    It will get easier day after day

  • Chris

    February 18th, 2014 at 2:51 PM

    That No. 3 step to making this our best year yet , about counting our blessings …one item stood out and is certainly food for thought … people who practice gratitude are 25% happier than those who don’t. Thanks a lot. I’ve always counted my blessings and will continue to do so. What I sometimes do is contrast what I’ve got in material things and otherwise to what people in Somalia and other poor countries have.

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