If the ‘new year, new me’ messaging is already wearing thin, but you still want to start 2024 on the right foot, then you’re in the perfect place. Instead of setting goals or starting habits just because it’s the trendy January vibe, we’re beginning our year from a more intentional place.
In December, we closed the year with a gratitude-filled reflection that flipped the script on the usual end-of-year anxiety. And now, in 2024, we’re handpicking the habits and healthy practices that fit best with personal values.
Start your year at the beginning
Before we dive into the ‘perfect match’ portion of this article, it makes a big difference to jot down your values first. Whether it’s in the Notes app on your phone or in your journal, spend some time deciding what important qualities you want to guide you through your year.
It might be a single word or several that set the tone, or longer affirmations about how you want to approach your life. For example, if you want a less busy or stressful year in 2024, your values might be setting boundaries or choosing yourself. If you want your year to bring you more joy and fun, then your values might be focused on playfulness or connecting with your inner child.
And if you want to reflect on 2023 to clear a path for this year, you can check out our new year intentions guide here.
Values first, resolutions second
With your values for your year all ready to go, it’s time to explore the right kind of habits, goals or practices to pick up in 2024. Keep in mind, this list is a starting point, and while some of these suggestions will resonate, some might not - and that’s ok! Stick to your intentions and you’ll find what means the most to you!
New year value: gratitude
Habits to practice gratitude
- Start a gratitude journal: keep a fresh, lined notebook by your bed and at the end of each day, write down 5 things you’re grateful for. For some, it works better to start the day with this practice - the main thing is to be consistent in order to feel the benefits.
- Leave yourself reminders: training the brain to be grateful, particularly when things aren’t going your way, takes time. So leave yourself reminders in the form of sticky notes on your mirror or by the front door, and daily memos in your calendar or phone to practice throughout the day.
- Tailor the practice to you: consider why you’re leading with gratitude this year, then grab an empty jar, some scraps of paper and a pen, and use this to fill with more specific notes. For example, if you’re using gratitude as a tool to stop your inner critic, then you could fill your jar with things you’re proud of, or if it’s about seeing the good in others, then you could fill it with acts of kindness you notice from people around you.
New year value: joy
Habits to practice joy
- Create a joyful morning routine: find an easy activity that always makes you smile, then stack it onto your existing routine. By adding your new habit before, after, or during an existing one, it will be easier to sustain. It could be playing your favourite song and having a mini dance party while you get ready, meeting a friend on your morning walk - whatever makes you happy, no strings attached!
- Get in touch with your creative self: think back to the activities you loved as a child - the ones you did purely for fun. We rollerbladed, painted, explored nature, and played games just because we loved doing it. Now, think about a hobby that would bring you joy as an adult - it might be the same ones from childhood - and make time for it in 2024. Book that pottery course, try a dance class, go bushwalking on weekends, play video games, or get yourself a paint-by-numbers to do at home. We all have the capacity to be creative, so find what that looks like for you and embrace it.
- Prioritise people who fill you up: after every social encounter, you can usually tell if you feel full and content, or drained and lacklustre. In order to focus on joy in 2024, spend more time with the former, and less time with people who take away from your good vibes. Your time and energy is yours alone - use it wisely.
New year value: boundaries
Habits to practice boundaries
- Delay saying yes: Author Brene Brown has a brilliant habit of pausing before responding to an invitation. And in this pause, she reminds herself to choose discomfort over resentment - a prompt that helps her sit with the discomfort of setting a boundary, because it means she won’t do something out of obligation or people-pleasing. Whether it’s pausing before saying yes, or asking if you can get back to someone later, practice leaving space for ‘no’ and leaning away from the automatic ‘yes’.
- Choose yourself first: get into a habit of looking at your calendar on Sunday night and finding times to dedicate to yourself. Whether it’s a hobby or exercise class you love, or a few hours of self-care, block these times out so you can keep them for yourself. That way, when things pop up that might not align with what you need, you can choose yourself instead.
- Remove the temptations: In order to preserve your peace, sometimes you need to create some distance. If you’re trying to set boundaries around work/life balance, consider removing your emails app from your phone or turning off notifications outside office hours. To unplug, you might need to switch your phone to Do Not Disturb, remove social media apps on weekends, or get your partner or family to help hold you accountable when they see you overstepping a boundary you’ve set for yourself.
New year value: exploration
Habits to practice exploration
- Identify how you want to explore: whether it’s in the literal sense of exploring your town or country, expanding your mind by reading or learning from others, or doing something totally out of your comfort zone, make a list of what it is you want to explore - then come back to it when you need some inspiration to push yourself.
- Go beyond your usual circles: join a book club to discuss your ideas with a different group of people, invite a new friend on an adventure to get to know them better, or join online communities to share and learn in new ways.
- Spend time with yourself: while exploring new places, perspectives and skills can often take you outward, don’t forget some introspection as well. That might look like a weekly stream of consciousness journaling session, five minutes of daily meditation, attending a mindful yoga class or just spending some time pondering - without the distractions of screens, music, or podcasts.
New year, new intentions
The purpose of adopting values or intentions before setting resolutions is so you can create an authentic starting point for your year.
Life happens - and things will come up that you didn’t expect or plan for. But having a meaningful set of values to come back to means that wherever 2024 takes you, you’ll have your very own, personalised moral compass to get you back on track.