How to make the most of your January when setting goals for the new year

Here are some tips on removing the pressure of the “new year, new you” mentality. 

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If, after just nine days into the new year, you’re already feeling “new year, new you” fatigue, you’re not alone. 

Every year, millions of people set new year’s resolutions, yet studies show that over 91% of people will eventually abandon them before the year is through. While there’s no set way to guarantee follow-through on your goals, some adjustments to your mindset can make approaching the beginning of a brand-new year less daunting. 

Whether your goal is as simple as wanting to read more or as complex as wanting to advance your career, you won’t succeed without the proper emotional and mental set-up. Below are some ways to reduce the pressure of taking on a brand new year.

New Year Fatigue theGrio.com
(Image: Getty Images/Nora Carol Photography)

Make sure you’re well rested

We can get so busy celebrating the holidays with friends and family that we may not actually get much downtime at the end of the year. While January is the start of the calendar year, it comes in the dead of winter. The animals are hibernating, and the trees are barren. In nature, it is a time for rest. The beginning of January may be better suited for rest than goal setting. 

According to Tricia Hersey, founder of the Nap Ministry, rest is our human right. 

“I think rest is important for everyone, not just marginalized groups; this is a global message for an entire culture that is brainwashed, abused, and exploited by nonstop labor. People are really disconnected from their own bodies and spirits,” Hersey said in an interview with Vogue

Figure out what’s blocking you

It can be challenging to hit the ground running at the start of the year if you’re still emotionally wrapped up in the year prior. A lot can happen in the span of a year. It’s perfectly acceptable to still be processing, grieving, healing or whatever it may be. Isolate what is blocking you from plunging forward and allow yourself the proper time (and expectations) to work through it. 

On social media, writer and arts advocate Rachel Cargle recently discussed the reality for many bringing grief into the new year with them. 

“Holding space for those of us who are not yet ready to exist in what might come next when we’re still grasping for what has been,” Cargle wrote in an Instagram post

Know your motivation

You may have resolved to go to the gym more this year but have yet to lace up your sneakers. Is working out in a gym with equipment really the goal or is introducing more meaningful movement in your life driving the goal? Understanding, in the simplest terms, the motivation behind your resolutions can ensure they become long-term activities.  

Keep it manageable 

Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say. When creating goals for the new year, do yourself a favor and keep them as realistic and manageable as possible. Break down loftier goals, such as finishing a major creative project, into smaller steps, like reading a book related to your project, to create a momentum of success early on. If you’re, say, starting a bike riding routine this month, maybe don’t expect to be ready for the Tour de France in July.

Know what you’re up against

In a perfect world, everyone can set and strive for goals without barriers. However, we do not live in a perfect world. When setting goals, always know what you’re up against and give yourself grace where applicable. In 2023, when the economy is unpredictable, and inflation is high, aspiring to be a homeowner may not be completely in your control. It’s no fault of your own if it’s just simply not a wise investment at this time.

Don’t wait for perfect 

Sometimes, we put off starting a new goal or give up on a goal because we keep waiting for the perfect version of ourselves to arrive. We think until we get that master’s degree in creative writing, we can’t write a book. Or we think until we have more credibility, we can’t start that dream business. The list of “untils” is endless and dead wrong. 

Life coach and author Lisa Nichols, who uses her social media platform to give advice on manifesting your dreams, said in a recent post that getting started right where you are now could inspire others to follow suit.  

“Don’t wait until everything is perfect to stand in your light. Stand in your light, and shine on everything that is not perfect. Allow people to see that if you can shine your light through it all, they can too,” Nichols said in an Instagram post.  

Focus on finding joy 

We set goals because, on some level, we hope that accomplishing them will bring us happiness. Rather than just setting overly ambitious goals, joy can be the goal. During the global pandemic, Beyoncé said the lockdown forced her to slow down and reconfigure her goals for the first time since her self-titled album dropped in 2013. 

“It’s been heavy and hectic. I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on building my legacy and representing my culture the best way I know how. Now, I’ve decided to give myself permission to focus on my joy,” she said in the December 2020 issue of British Vogue


Kay Wicker is a lifestyle writer for theGrio covering health, wellness, travel, beauty, fashion, and the myriad ways Black people live and enjoy their lives. She has previously created content for magazines, newspapers, and digital brands. 

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