7 Steps to Clarifying Your Values in the New Year

We’ve all had the teacher who made us turn in our “New Year’s Resolutions” for “required” extra credit, right? I’m not the only one, am I? I feel like each year, the pressure to come up with some impressive goal to work toward on January 1st gets greater. For a long time, I let that pressure get to me, and I’d come up with resolutions left and right, 75% of them falling by the wayside as early as Valentine’s Day. In the past 5 years, though, I’ve worked hard to reclaim New Year’s Eve and the “new year, new me” concept as something comforting and restful rather than wild, crazy, public, and trendy.

How to Transition into the New Year Stress-Free

If you’re looking for a way to destress the new year transition while still taking time to acknowledge that it’s an important time, take a look at these ideas for finding clarity and rest as you move from 2022 into 2023.

1. Set aside some time to be alone on either December 31st or January 1st. If you’re an introvert, this will be easy! If you’re an extrovert, you may be thinking it sounds like torture. If you want to give yourself a chance to focus and make the moment, feel special, taking time to yourself is an important move. You’ll still have plenty of time left in the day to celebrate with friends and family if you want to! Just give yourself an hour or two to be alone with your thoughts.

2. Create a safe, cozy atmosphere for yourself. Once you’re alone, make sure it’s a pleasant experience. If you’re in your bedroom, cozy up in your favorite blanket and turn on some chill music. If you’re at a coffee shop or a library, bring your headphones and play one of those “fireplace ambiance” videos on YouTube, or maybe a campfire or a beach is more your vibe.

The point is to create a feeling of luxury, safety, and solitude for yourself so that you’ll be in a good headspace to ask yourself some deep questions and possibly even enjoy the process. Pro tip: a warm mug of tea or hot chocolate always helps.

3. Reflect on 2022. Either on your computer or in a journal, free-write about the past year. Start with whatever comes to mind and go until you’ve run out of thoughts. Once you hit that point, transition into answering these questions:

  • What is the worst thing that happened to me in 2022?
  • What is the best thing that happened to me in 2022?
  • Compared to 12 months ago, what is most different about me now? What’s the biggest change I’ve seen in myself in the past year? Is it a good change?
  • Who are the people who’ve been most important to me in the past year?
  • Who are the people I’ve missed in the past year?
  • What’s your least favorite way you spent your time in 2022? 
  • What’s your favorite way you spent your time in 2022?
  • What’s held you back in 2022? What’s helped you?

Sit with your answers to those questions for a moment. Sip your hot chocolate, stare out the window, listen to your music, and breathe.

4. Think ahead toward 2023. Now that you’ve had a moment to acknowledge 2022, give yourself the space to process the year to come. Turn the page in your journal and start on a new set of questions.

  • Where do you see yourself one year from now?
  • What can you release from the past year that is holding you back from moving forward? Are there habits you no longer like, friends who aren’t true friends, or activities you no longer enjoy? Can you say goodbye to those this year?
  • What can you add to the new year in order to be closer to what you desire for yourself? Is there something you’ve always wanted to try or someone you’ve wanted to talk to? How can you pursue those things that feel like “you” this year?
  • What’s one thing you would be excited about if you found out now that it happens in 2023?

Sit with these answers too. Take your time. Realize that you know yourself pretty well, and much, though not everything, about the coming year is within your control. Free write in the journal for a little while longer if you want to reflect on how, you can make the year better for yourself or move closer to the person you want to be. Look over everything you’ve written today. Turn to a new page in the journal one more time…

5. Write down ONE, and only one, goal for 2023. It can be anything from “make the basketball team” to “build self-esteem.” The important thing is that it lines up with what you’ve learned about yourself as you’ve been reflecting today. You can, of course, have other things you hope to do or accomplish in 2023, but this is the one that you can return to over and over again throughout the year, when you’re feeling overwhelmed or lost. This is a guiding post, not a rule, requirement, or resolution. It’s just something that is important to you and that you want to make a concerted effort to achieve.

6. Move your body and repeat the goal to yourself. I’ve gotten into the habit of doing yoga at home while I pray and meditate on the time, I’ve just spent with myself. I ask God for His guidance in the next year and thank Him for giving me the space to do this reflection day. You could pack up your stuff from the coffee shop, grab a hot cocoa to go, and take a walk while you repeat the goal you’ve set in your mind. Moving my body with the intention of making 2023 the year I’d like it to be, helps cement everything in my heart. Give yourself this opportunity to let your body participate in the transition from the old to the new.

7. Keep it to yourself. #NewYearNewMe isn’t actually a required annual social media post! Broadcasting what you’ve decided to focus on in the new year doesn’t legitimize it. In fact, telling everyone in detail what you’ve discovered during this session of reflection might even make you feel more distant from it, like it’s less special and only for you. Of course, you’re free to tell a person you’re incredibly close to! It’s not a secret that you, like most of us, want the new year to be different than the last. Just be careful to cherish this one thing for yourself. Sharing everything on social media can sometimes make things feel like they’re public property, but you deserve to have something that’s only yours as you walk into the new year.

You Don’t Have to Move Forward Alone

Another challenge to the New Year’s Resolution fad is that it can place an awful lot of pressure on your shoulders to succeed. Quitting or simply not achieving your goal by a certain deadline can feel like a massive failure, and since everyone else is busy with their own resolutions, it can feel like you’re on your own to achieve this huge goal. It makes you feel like you have to work to be worthy of rest or acceptance, and that feeling is, quite simply, not of God. In Christ’s love, you do not have to work to earn your worth. You simply are worthy of love, grace, and acceptance because you’ve accepted your identity as a son or daughter of the King. You can call on Him to help you with the goals you’ve set for yourself, but there’s no punishment if you don’t achieve them, no pressure to be perfect. If you’re struggling with that pressure to be a certain way in the new year, can’t let go of the idea that you have to create a certain number of resolutions, or you’d like to learn more about God’s grace, please reach out to TheHopeLine. You don’t have to do a #NewYearNewMe post to be made new.

Finding more meaning in your life is not only possible, but it can also be done in simple, inspiring ways. Click here to gain unexpected inspiration with 5 simple ways to find meaning in your life! 

-Cara Beth

Cara Beth Graebner
Cara Beth Graebner is a freelance writer and editor based in Chicago, Illinois. With a degree in creative writing from the College of Charleston and a Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting from Western Michigan University, she's been living by her pen for many years. She loves the way words come together to bring light into dark places, which is the goal of every piece she writes for TheHopeLine and other clients. When she's not writing, she's probably snuggling her 2-year-old pup, reading a book, or gardening.
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