Another year has gone by in the blink of an eye. Both good and bad experiences have left us with memories and priceless lessons that inspire our resolutions for the coming year.
While achieving material goals can be instant and rewarding, few things can match the satisfaction and lasting fruits of personal growth. Self-improvement is a lifelong journey, but there is no better time to start than today.
If you’re looking for a meaningful resolution to adopt for 2024, we recommend one or more of the 24 realistic goals below.
1. Follow the course of nature
Since childhood, we have learned to strive hard for success and recognition. While this is a mindset that can help us cultivate perseverance and build resilience, lived experience often shows us that the universe has its own principles.
There are those who, despite striving for something, do not achieve it; while there are others who get things naturally without extraordinary effort. Elevate your perspective and let go of the competitive mentality. Once you learn to trust and have faith, you will realize that what is meant to be yours will find its way to you.
2. Find peace of mind
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A never-ending to-do list can make our thoughts wander. While working on one thing, issues related to other concerns pop up. Burdened with anxiety and worries, it’s hard to find peace of mind.
Give yourself the gift of being present. Although easier said than done, training the mind is an achievable feat. Start by examining the cause of your uneasiness. Whether it is expectations for the future or regrets from the past, think about the serenity it would bring you to let go of them.
One of the most powerful tools for achieving peace of mind is meditation. The art of quieting the mind requires daily practice, but not costly instruction. Remember that the best things in life are free.
3. Stop fearing hardship
No one likes to suffer, but tribulations teach us to value the good times, and also provide us with opportunities to improve ourselves.
How do you react when problems arise? Are you able to think of others in finding solutions? Are your problems a reflection of your shortcomings? What can you change in yourself to make things better? Only in the midst of murky waters can the purest lotus flowers bloom.
4. Smile more
Smiling not only makes you seem more approachable, it also improves your mood. Studies have found that when you smile, your body releases mood-enhancing hormones – such as serotonin, dopamine and endorphins – while stress-producing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline decrease.
Although forced smiles may bring about some of these benefits, nothing compares to the beauty and warmth of a genuine smile. Keep a positive attitude and it will shine forth naturally.
5. Be content with what you have
The excitement of getting something new can be irresistible if we brace our happiness on the possession of material objects to fulfill our desires. Yet whatever we get never seems to be enough; and, at great expense to both our bank account and our peace of mind, we relentlessly pursue an elusive sense of satisfaction.
The new year is a good time to challenge your creativity. When a perceived need comes up, rather than going shopping, take a look around to see what you have that can be adapted or repurposed to fit the bill. You may find that using your imagination is infinitely more gratifying than accumulating more stuff.
6. Stop complaining and start giving thanks
Complaining when things don’t go our way is a common habit that muddles our minds and annoys our acquaintances. Try shifting your attention to the good things in your life, instead. When you count your blessings, you may find you’ve been taking many things for granted.
Even difficult situations provide a priceless opportunity to cultivate various virtues. Seize this new year to get out of the habit of complaining and replace it with a more nurturing practice: giving thanks.
7. Let go of the fear of being alone
The ghost of loneliness haunts many of us. While we are all sociable by nature, there is no guarantee that we will always have the company we desire, and sometimes we need to find solace in our own company.
Remember that being alone and loneliness are not necessarily the same thing. Being by yourself can lead to a sense of isolation – or give you a welcome opportunity for spiritual work. It is a matter of perception.
8. Learn to not talk back
Defending ourselves is instinctive. When someone hurls harsh words at us, we are likely to respond just as harshly, if not more so. The result is an unpleasant conflict that can scar the heart and soul.
Many spiritual practices emphasize the importance of restraining one’s temper and not responding in kind. This prevents us from doing or saying things we might later regret.
Whenever someone does or says something unkind to you, take it as an opportunity to examine whether it touches on something you could improve. The offenses will become less and less offensive as you cultivate a heart that is not affected by anything.
9. Cultivate positive, graceful speech
The way we speak says a lot about us and has a certain effect on the listener. Public speakers thus often advise moderation in speech.
Speaking quickly can both impede effective communication and give a sense of haste or stress, while a loud voice is apt to appear inconsiderate and annoying. Of course, speaking too slowly or at a low volume can also make it difficult for others to engage in conversation with you.
Speaking with grace, pace and gentleness, along with using a broad vocabulary, will make conversations interesting and enjoyable.
10. Work on your demeanor
The way you carry yourself speaks to your self-esteem and confidence. Rounded shoulders and a stooped posture give the impression that you don’t care about yourself or what others think of you. Conversely, keeping your back straight, your shoulders back and your gaze high helps you appear confident and poised.
Avoid shaking the legs when sitting or swinging the arms abruptly when walking. A graceful demeanor is unhurried and unassuming.
11. Find the good in others
It is easy to focus on others’ shortcomings, especially when they do not conform to our standards. When their faults occupy our minds, we might be inclined to give them the cold shoulder.
But remember, there is good and bad in everybody. Think of your own imperfections and look for the positive instead. Are they kind, generous, cheerful, reliable, well-disciplined or respectful toward others? Perhaps you can learn something from them.
Ignoring other’s faults and focusing on their good qualities is a skill that takes time to master, but the serenity that follows is well worth the effort.
12. Give genuine compliments
If you see something good in others, be sure to let them know! A genuine acknowledgement of their efforts to be better is always encouraging and deeply appreciated.
However, avoid flattery at all costs. Empty words and insincere praise only speak of your intentions to curry favor. Cultivate your speech and make sure that every word you say is honest and kind.
13. Cultivate patience
Our modern lifestyle has made us increasingly impatient and utilitarian. With advanced technology at our fingertips, the patience our ancestors exercised while preparing a meal, making an intricate piece of handiwork, or relying on memory and books for information may seem incredible.
To rediscover the simple and fulfilling lifestyle that our ancestors led, let go of the desire for instant gratification and the urgency to achieve. When we stop chasing a feeling of satisfaction, the beauty of the present moment will emerge.
14. Reconnect with your spirituality
For millennia, spirituality has provided guidance and meaning to human life. Acknowledging the existence of something greater than ourselves, and embracing our own divine nature give profound meaning to our existence.
Embark on a journey of self-discovery, and you will find that the universe and life are full of beauty and fascinating mysteries that can hardly be called accidental.
15. Start holding yourself accountable
How many times have you resorted to white lies to justify not doing something you should have done? How many times have you given up on a goal because you “don’t have time?”
Excuses help us stay in our comfort zone, but remember that nothing worthwhile is easy. If you define your goals and outline what it takes to achieve them, you will be less inclined to let yourself off the hook with excuses.
16. Overcome laziness
Spending time and energy to do things is difficult when we lack motivation. Things get put off again and again, until we finally give up on achieving our goals.
Side-step procrastination by creating micro habits and a reasonable plan. Remember that consistency is more important than intensity. Set aside a little time to devote to your goals each day, and make reminders for why you want to achieve them.
You will be amazed at how your small daily efforts add up and how much progress you will make in just one year.
17. Follow current events
Reading the news can be overwhelming. The complexity of many issues and negative news can be demotivating and discouraging. However, it’s good to remember that not all outlets focus on bad news, and that understanding the news is just a matter of practice.
As my journalism professor used to say, “Check the headlines every day!” “Try to follow at least one story!” “Read, read, read!” Getting into this habit not only broadens your knowledge, it also builds sympathy for individuals in other cultures and settings.
18. Rediscover tradition
Have you ever wondered how our ancestors lived? How did they think, feel, and act?
Art, poetry and music are telling clues in this inquiry. A peek into classical poetry reveals an endless pursuit for truth, goodness and beauty. A look at classical paintings shows a devout quest to depict the sublimity of the divine. The melodies of classical music attest to the musician’s aspiration to perfect his skills and inspire goodness in the listener.
Rediscover the beauty of tradition and let it shape your present. Anecdotes from your elders, documentaries, and classic literature are all excellent sources to guide your search.
19. Develop an appreciation for art
Art has always been a pillar of civilization. Though modern art can often leave us scratching our heads, classical art can guide us back to the very essence of artistic expression. Through it, humans have immortalized thoughts, ideals and scenes.
A good way to learn to appreciate art is to increase your exposure to it. Attend live performances and visit your local art gallery or museum. By immersing yourself in this exquisite world, you will come to appreciate experiences more than things, and gain a deeper insight into the relationship between life and beauty.
20. Take up a creative hobby
The joy of creating beauty with our hands is a luxury unique to human beings. Be it building, knitting, painting or pottery, the possibilities are endless. In addition to helping us relax, making things stimulates our creativity and imagination.
Learning a new skill this year is a great way to challenge yourself. Set a schedule that fits in with your current responsibilities and treat this creative endeavor as important ”me-time.” As your pieces come to life, you will discover your own style and the kind of beauty that only you can create.
21. Cultivate altruism
Our lived experience can attest to the great joy we feel when we give. There is something innate in the human being that is purely compassionate, and it shines through when we let go of selfish concerns.
Nurturing our kind side is the first step, and volunteering is a great way to do this. Think about how you can best serve others and find a cause where you think you will make an impact. As you become more selfless, you will discover a kind of happiness that no money can buy.
22. Cultivate compassion
Being kind and caring is something we all aspire to. Yet unpleasant thoughts, feelings and desires can cloud our good nature and prevent us from being all that we could be.
To cultivate compassion, begin by being compassionate to yourself. Are you patient and forgiving when your own shortcomings manifest, or critical and harsh? When your inner world embodies loving kindness, it will naturally overflow.
When considering others, give their well-being priority over your personal motivations. A selfless heart is a quality of unparalleled value and beauty, and one that you can begin to cultivate today.
23. Take care of your body
Among the most common New Year’s resolutions is to adopt healthier habits. In fact, taking good care of our bodies is essential to achieve any other goal. Make an effort to improve your sleep schedule, eat a more nutritious diet, incorporate physical activity into your daily routine and put an end to bad habits such as drinking and smoking.
There are a multitude of studies that demonstrate the benefits of living a healthier, holistic lifestyle.
24. Cherish the moments
Although life is short and fleeting, there is nothing more precious than “the here and now.” Making sure your loved ones feel cared for is indispensable for nurturing healthy relationships.
Simple acts such as making time for your family, remembering birthdays, calling your parents and checking on your friends are timeless ways to show them how important they are to you.
With a resolute mind and a grateful heart, may you have a joyful and meaningful 2024!