2023 may have been a great year for you – or it may have been quite rough.
You may be basking in the awesomeness of everything that happened, or you may have been relieved when it was over.
One of the great things about the new year is that with it comes an ending and a beginning – the end of one year and the beginning of another.
If it was great, you end and start on a great note. You go in with the expectation of great things happening.
If it was rough, it’s the end of a year you may wish to pass and can start new on another year.
However the past year turned out for you, I’m sure you would like 2024 to be awesome.
What are some ways we can make the next year great? Here are 7:
1. Have great expectations
The first step you can take for a great year is to believe it will be great.
Expectations have power. Generally, we get what we expect. If you go through life expecting it to be bad, you are going to find what you are looking for.
Many people sabotage their year before it even starts. They start the year negatively. The last year was bad, so they expect the new year to be bad as well.
There’s a story in the book The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan where met a woman at a New Year’s Eve Party. The woman was incredibly negative. She kept talking about how her jacket wasn’t as good as Kaplan’s, she expected this year to go poorly and had a sour, negative, complaining attitude about life.
She lived in the negative and expected the negative. There is no follow-up with that woman in that story, but I think we all can guess how her year turned out.
Start the year with the right expectations. 2023 may have been rough for you; however, that doesn’t have to determine 2024.
Let the end of the year be the end of the negative. Start new and afresh. It’s a new year, a new beginning. Go into the new year with the expectation that things are going to be great.
2. Be thankful and see the positive in everything
One reason we get miserable about life is that we focus on the negatives and the things we don’t have.
We focus on our lack or on what other people have that we don’t or on the parts of circumstances we don’t like, and we get negative, complain, and fuss.
That attitude keeps us focused on the negative, makes our attitude negative, and keeps us unhappy.
Instead, focus on the positive and be thankful. That’s actually what The Gratitude Diaries is about. She spent a year focused on being thankful. It changed her life, improved her marriage, and more.
Gratitude and thankfulness have power. We all have things to be thankful for. We just sometimes lose sight of it when we are focused on what is wrong.
And truth is, in most to all situations, there is something positive we can find in that situation. There’s something we can learn or an aspect we can appreciate about it.
I challenge you to start your year with thankfulness.
There are many ways to do it:
- Every morning and/or night think of and say things you are thankful for. At night think of everything that day you specifically are grateful about.
- Start a gratitude diary. Every morning or night write out five or ten things you are thankful for. Over time you will fill up that notebook. When you start being negative, you can look back at all that you have to be thankful for.
- Look for the positives and something to be thankful for in every situation. Whatever happens, good or bad, look for the positive in it. It may not always be apparent, but keep looking for the positive and give thanks for whatever the good is in that negative situation.
- Give thanks to other people. We can often focus on the negative of other people instead of focusing on the positive. Show appreciation to other people. Tell them what they do that you are thankful for. Especially with your family, do it every day.
- Give thanks for yourself. You may not like everything about yourself. One thing I have found funny with many of the girls that came through my house (I was a foster parent) is that the girls with straight hair often wanted their hair curly, and the girls with curly hair often wanted it straight.
We can often focus on the negatives or aspects we don’t like instead of being thankful for and happy for who we are. Be thankful for who you are. Be thankful for how you are made. It doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t improve, but putting yourself down is never beneficial.
This year, start it with an attitude of gratitude. Look for the positive in every situation and express gratitude for those positives.
3. Forgive others for how they hurt you
Unforgiveness is one of the deadliest poisons you can drink. It destroys your life more and more over time.
It hurts your health, your relationships, your attitude, your happiness, and your overall well-being.
It makes you bitter and angry. It pushes people away.
It gives power and control over you to the person you don’t forgive.
And the thing is, when you don’t forgive someone, it doesn’t affect them at all – except maybe a negative attitude from you.
What it does is hurt you.
Don’t give people that power. Don’t destroy yourself that way.
You don’t have to forget what they did. In fact, in many cases, you shouldn’t. You might need to protect yourself from their behavior.
But you should forgive them and not hold a grudge against them anymore.
Let the end of 2023 end your unforgiveness toward other people. Start your new year with the freedom of forgiveness.
4. Forgive yourself
For many of us, the person that we have the hardest time forgiving is ourselves. We make mistakes and do things we regret, and then we hold on to them.
We beat ourselves up. We tear ourselves down. We keep focusing on the past and what we did instead of looking forward.
Forgiving ourselves can be hard, but it’s something we all need to do.
Yes, you may have made mistakes, yes, you may have failed, and yes, you may have hurt others, but you can’t change what you did. You can’t go back and redo it.
What you can do is do your best to fix and resolve it, learn from it, and then keep looking and moving forward.
As long as you are looking behind yourself at the past, at your mistakes and what you did, you are looking backward. You can’t look forward and backward at the same time.
And constantly beating yourself up and tearing yourself down hurts your happiness, your confidence, and can even hurt your relationships.
Imagine you are walking down a path and trip over a root. Then after you get up, you walk forward while looking back at the root you tripped over.
What do you think will happen?
You will either hit a tree, trip over another root or fall down a hill.
It’s the same with life. If we keep focusing on our failures and mess-ups, we will keep messing up.
We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it. Learn from your mistakes, forgive yourself, then focus forward. Focus on the next step.
You can’t change that you tripped on the root, but you can learn from it and watch for roots on your next step, and your next.
In this new year, forgive yourself. Fix what you need to fix, resolve what you need to resolve, and then focus on the next step, not the last one.
5. Keep growing and learning
One of the best steps to have a great 2024 is to have an attitude of learning.
One of the worst things we can do to ourselves is stay stagnant. But that’s actually a misnomer.
When it comes to us and personal growth, there is no stagnation. We are either improving or declining. Our knowledge is either growing or shrinking.
Not only does memory fade away (how many of you who’ve been out of school remember all that you learned in your classes or even all of your teachers’ names?), technology is constantly changing as well.
And not just that, the truth is, we all can always improve and grow. We all can get better, become better people, and do our activities and tasks better.
There are many who think learning ends when school ends – and that’s sad, not only for you but for those around you.
Enter this new year with an attitude of learning. In whatever situations come your way, look for the lessons that can be found in them.
Increase your skills at work. Read some books on building relationships, parenting, marriage, improving your communication skills, and so on.
Don’t be arrogant and think you know all there is to know. Have the humility and ability to learn new perspectives and information.
Make sure that when 2024 comes, you can say you are a new and better person.
6. Spend time with people who pull you up, not down
You probably have heard the saying “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” There is truth to that statement.
In fact, in Proverbs, Solomon says the same thing when he says:
“He who walks with wise men will be wise,Proverbs 13:20
But the companion of fools will suffer harm.”1
The type of people you spend time with has an effect on you. If you spend time with negative people who always complain, you will start to be like them.
If you hang around the unproductive people at work who are lazy, slack, and complain, then you will become more like them and be seen as one of them.
If you spend time with people who constantly tear you down, manipulate you, and hurt you, you are hurting yourself by doing so.
Hang around people who will pull you up, not down. Hang around people you want to be more like.
If you want to be more productive and successful, hang around people who are productive and successful. If you want to increase your wealth to a certain level, spend time with those who’ve done it.
If you want to be more positive and happy, spend time with people who are positive and happy.
This may require you to sever relationships. And that’s okay. You can still love people and be nice to them, but it’s okay not to want to spend time with them. Some people who are toxic you may need to cut out completely, and that’s okay. It’s worth it not having those kinds of people in your life.
Who you spend time with has a great effect on your life. Make sure in this coming year that you spend it with those who will build you up.
7. Write out your goals and take action (and forgive yourself when you mess up)
Unless you are going on a random destination vacation, if you start driving down the road with no set destination, you are wasting time. You will never know if you arrived because you don’t know what the destination is! And even with a random destination vacation, you have a general idea of what you are looking for – a place for a vacation.
But that’s how many people spend their lives – with no destination in mind. They are just wandering with no direction.
If you want to arrive, you have to define what that arrival looks like.
That’s why goals are so important. It gives you a direction to aim at. It gives you a direction to go.
You need to have a clear destination, clear goals, of where you want to be and what you want to accomplish.
Is there something you want to learn in 2024? Is there something you want to accomplish or do? What are your long-term goals and what is your goal this year to get there? What do you want to happen with your family and relationships? Work? Hobbies? Finances? Home? Health? Spirituality? And so on?
Set clear goals for this year of where you would like to see yourself by the end of the year (or you could even do parts of the year and then set more goals).
Then write them down. Written goals have a lot of power. They aren’t just vague goals in your head that you might easily forget.
Then, try to look at them frequently – whether daily or weekly and so on. Remind yourself what your goals are. You may even want to rewrite them every day.
You may want to break down your goals into all the steps you will need to take to accomplish them.
Then, as much as possible, do something toward your goals every day. If you broke down the steps, do one step, or so on.
And lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself when you mess up.
It’s almost a joke for many how fast New Years eve Resolutions fail. There are numerous reasons why people fail, but one reason is that it can be easy to give up when we mess up.
Let’s take the gym for instance. You commit to going to the gym, then after a couple of weeks, you miss a week. Sometimes you may just get out of the routine, and other times it’s easy to look at the mistake of not making it and just give up.
You are going to mess up in moving toward your goals at some point. You aren’t going to be perfect.
And that’s okay.
Forgive yourself, learn from it, then pick back up where you left off and keep going.
To learn more on how to set and make your goals happen, check out our articles on goal setting.
Bonus: Give yourself time to heal
This year has been a hard year for many. Some have lost loved ones. Others may have dealt with illnesses, lost jobs, or dealt with other issues.
Just because the new year comes doesn’t mean that pain automatically goes away. It doesn’t.
If you lost this year, it’s okay to take time to heal. It’s okay to slow down. It’s okay if you didn’t reach all your goals this past year.
It’s okay if you don’t meet the normal “expectations” you have for yourself or that you think others may have for you.
It’s okay to grieve and heal. And in fact, that may be the best thing you can do.
Don’t put so much pressure on yourself on what you “have” to do. Give yourself some slack and time to heal.
You can have a great 2024.
First, have great expectations. Expect the next year to be awesome.
Second, have an attitude of gratitude. Be thankful and look for the positive in every situation.
Third, forgive others for the hurts that gave you. Unforgiveness is a deadly position. Free yourself from it.
Fourth, forgive yourself. Yourself is one of the hardest people to forgive. Resolve what you need to resolve, fix what you need to fix, learn from it, then let the past go and focus forward on the next step, not on the last.
Fifth, keep growing and learning. Have the humility to know you don’t know everything. Become a better person by growing yourself and learning different perspectives and new information.
Sixth, spend time with people who will build you up, not tear you down. You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Make sure they are the kind of people you want to become.
Seventh, have clear goals for the different areas of your life. Know where you want to go, break down the steps, and take action toward it every day (or as often as is reasonable). And when you mess up, learn from it, forgive yourself, and then pick back up and keep going.
Let’s make 2024 a great year.
Now to you: what step(s) are you going to focus on in 2024? Let everyone know in the comments below.