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  • Writer's pictureKelli Niewhoner

New Year Resolutions: Embrace Grace

As the clock strikes midnight and the calendar turns to a new year, many of us find ourselves caught up in the tradition of setting New Year's resolutions. The promise of a fresh start and the opportunity for self-improvement can be invigorating, but often, the enthusiasm fades as the reality of overwhelming goals and the pressure to achieve them sets in. I can't count how many times that I've set a "New Year Resolution" only to give up on it the first week in! Sometimes the desire to make changes quickly overshadows the reality that progress takes time! We live in a fast paced world that craves immediate gratification; how do we curb our desire to have results fast and follow through with the goals we have set? Let's take a dive deeper into a few ways that we can still make changes in our life, but achieve them in a much more realistic manner.

The Overwhelming Cycle:

It's not uncommon for the initial excitement of setting resolutions to give way to feelings of overwhelm and burnout. The pressure to achieve big, audacious goals can lead to stress and frustration, ultimately causing many to abandon their resolutions altogether. However, there is a gentler, more sustainable way to approach personal growth in the new year.

Embracing Small Steps:

Instead of succumbing to the pressure of drastic changes, consider the power of small, consistent steps towards your larger goals. Setting realistic expectations allows for more manageable progress and significantly reduces the risk of burnout. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither are lasting habits or significant achievements. If your goal this year is to declutter your home rather than beginning with the entire kitchen, take it one drawer at a time. Giving focus to one small task will allow you to utilize your energy more efficiently and reduce the amount of stress surrounding your goal. Taking it bite by bite is much easier than to swallow it whole.

Cultivating a Compassionate Mindset:

Rather than dwelling on perceived failures or setbacks, embrace a mindset of grace and compassion. Understand that the journey towards self-improvement is not a straight path, and there will be bumps along the way. Be kind to yourself during moments of struggle and celebrate the small victories, no matter how insignificant they may seem. It's so easy to get down on yourself especially when you are working to make changes and it seems like you took a step backwards. The process of making changes isn't always linear; this means that there may be moments of regression and possibly stagnancy. This doesn't mean that you have failed or that you aren't working hard enough, it simply means that you are human and are experiencing the natural cycle of change.

Prioritizing Self-Growth:

The key to successful resolutions lies in prioritizing self-growth in a way that aligns with your unique journey. Take the time to reflect on your values, passions, and what truly matters to you. Let your goals be an expression of your authentic self rather than societal expectations. It's easy to come up with all the "I should be..." statements and "If only I was..." but, what if we were to change our vocabulary and how we speak of ourselves? What if we changed "I should" to "I will" and "If only" to "I am"? It's much more empowering to say "I will be more patient" because we take responsibility for our actions and decide to make it a priority in our life rather than saying "I should be patient..." and then creating an excuse as to why we are not patient. When we change the way we speak about ourselves and find compassion for our own nuances, we are better equipped to achieve self-growth and remain authentic to ourselves.

"Nudge" Words:

In place of resolutions, consider adopting a new mantra or "nudge word" to guide your actions throughout the year. Choose a word that resonates with your aspirations and acts as a gentle reminder of your intentions. Whether it's "patience," "courage," or "balance," let this word be what you want to embody each day. This is a much better alternative because it can better align to your personal ideologies and values. Having a "nudge" word allows you to be more conscious about your day to day actions; by being more aware of your thoughts and actions you tend to behave in ways that align with your most authentic self.

For example, my nudge word is to be more "present". By being mindful of how much time I waste scrolling social media, watching tv, and engaging in unproductive tasks I will slowly begin making changes to how I live day to day. By focusing on being more present, the small changes will compound and eventually lead me to living my life in a way that aligns to my truest self. It doesn't mean that I have to completely stop watching tv and delete all my social media apps, it simply is making a decision to limit my interaction with these things and change my awareness to the present moment.


As you embark on the journey of self-improvement in the new year, remember that it's okay to set goals, but it's equally important to approach them with grace and compassion. Embrace the power of small steps, cultivate a mindset of understanding, and prioritize your unique path to self-growth. With a kind and compassionate approach, you'll discover that lasting change is not only achievable but sustainable in the long run. One of the biggest takeaways from this post is that I want you to understand that change takes time, it is difficult, and you don't have to go it alone. Be gentle with yourself and be proud of the fact that you are working on bettering yourself! It takes persistence and patience with yourself to reach your goals. If you struggle to make changes and don't know where to begin, reach out to a friend, a loved one, or even a therapist. You are never alone and we are always here to help!

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