If you’re feeling stuck in life and don’t want 2024 to be the same as last year, stop doing these 9 things

The start of a new year often brings a lot of mixed feelings with it. It’s kinda bittersweet saying goodbye to the past year, but there’s also a sense of anticipation. 

What can the new year bring? 

Maybe 2023 was a year that made you feel stuck in life. Well, that’s even more reason to be hopeful. Because it means you’ve got the opportunity to reinvent your life. To shake things up a bit. 

So, how can you make 2024 different from the past year? It all begins with letting go of old habits that no longer serve you. 

Here are 9 things to stop doing if you want to get unstuck and make 2024 the year you reach new heights: 

1) Neglecting self-reflection

First up, here’s what you need to know – any attempt at self-improvement begins with self-examination. 

Otherwise, how will you know which values you stand for and would serve you well in the new year? How will you know which areas of your life need changing? 

The problem with not getting to know ourselves is that when we feel stuck, we can’t pinpoint what exactly is bothering us or holding us back. 

Plus, we won’t even know which direction to go or what we want to achieve. 

Noise is something that can keep us stuck in life for one simple reason – it keeps us from hearing ourselves. So carve out some quiet time to reconnect with yourself and start from there. 

Ask yourself the difficult questions: Am I happy with where I am? What changes do I want to see in my life? 

It doesn’t have to be a huge to-do. You can simply get into this habit by setting aside a few minutes each day to journal or meditate. 

2) Not setting goals

Or setting vague goals. Saying things like, “This year, I’m gonna have a 6-figure income!” just won’t cut it.

There’s been so much research proving that goal-setting has strong links to success. 

In fact, a Harvard Business study found that the folks who wrote down their goals were three times more likely to succeed than those who merely had some vague plans in mind. 

If goal-setting is somewhat of a foreign concept to you, here’s the tried-and-tested way to go about it. Make your goals SMART: 

  • S – Specific

  • M – Measurable

  • A – Achievable

  • R – Realistic

  • T – Time-bound

In other words, break the big picture down so you can actually see and do the steps you need to take to get there. Otherwise, that’s all it will ever be, a far-off dream that stays out of your reach.  

3) Neglecting self-care

Another reason why you may be feeling stuck in life is that you’ve let yourself run on till you’re empty. Sometimes, it could be a matter of needing some TLC. 

I remember back at the end of 2022, I was feeling stuck myself. I had three jobs and was earning well enough, yet I’d never felt more hollow. I knew that something had to change. 

So I decided that 2023 would be a year when I would be more picky about how I spent my time. I had to commit to allowing myself more time to relax, to give my loved ones more attention, to do things that nourish my mind and body. 

…And not feel guilty about it! 

The modern world has made us believe that slowing down to smell the roses is a bad thing. That if you’re not hustling and making money every minute, you’re not living your best life. 

But in my experience, self-care is necessary. A balanced life feels more successful than one where I’m perpetually producing and earning an income and a whole lot of nothing else. 

Sometimes, just remembering to be kind to ourselves is enough to get us out of the rut we’ve fallen into. 

4) Overcommitting yourself

Like I mentioned earlier, self-care includes being choosy with how you spend your time. That’s an act of kindness you can do for yourself. 

Look at the year you’ve just had. Can you list any favors you did for others that you didn’t really want to do? Are there any events you could’ve crossed off, now that you can see them in hindsight?

If there have been too many, maybe this year, you could do something different – say “no” to things that pull too much focus from what matters most to you. 

When I learned how to establish my boundaries and be more selective with what to commit to, I found myself with so much more free time to spend as I wish. 

Maybe a good way to think about it is this gem from Annie Dillard’s “The Writing Life”:

“How you spend your days is how you spend your life.”

Put in that context, it should be easier for you to see just how precious your time is! 

5) Letting your fears rule you

Your fears may be another obstacle in your path to a fulfilling year. 

We humans are afraid of a lot – of failure, rejection, messing up…some of us are even afraid of success! 

Where do all these fears land us? In a safe yet stagnant zone. Just running around in circles, then wondering why every year seems the same as the previous one. 

The key to overcoming fear is not to eliminate it (that’s nearly impossible) but to learn to act despite it. 

As the old Franklin D. Roosevelt quote goes, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”

In this case, what is that “something else”? Your personal growth. As long as you’re growing and learning new things, every year has something different to offer! 

This brings me to my next point…

6) Not being intentional with learning

Every January, I pay one of my favorite people in the world – my 80-year-old neighbor – a visit. 

We’d exchange notes on our hopes and plans for the new year, and her list would always, always include an intention to learn. 

Off the top of my head, I’ve seen “Learn Spanish”, “Learn how to make clay pots,” and “Learn how to paint” on her list. 

And you know what? It’s why she’s always happy and thriving, well beyond her retirement years. It’s why her every year ends with something delightful to show for it! 

You see, continual learning is something we often leave to chance as adults. When there are bills to pay and kids to raise, we don’t really have the time or the emotional/mental bandwidth to add another task to our already long list. 

So what often happens is a “good if it (learning something new) happens, okay if it doesn’t” attitude. 

This year, flip the script. Set an intention to learn. Be specific about what you want to learn. Put it down on paper so it becomes visible instead of disappearing into the ether. 

It could come in different forms, such as: 

  • Formal classes or workshops

  • Travel experiences

  • Books and podcasts

  • New hobbies

  • Talking to people from different cultures

The avenues for learning are endless, really. The point is to refresh your mind so that you don’t have to stay stuck in 2023. 

7) Dwelling on the past

In the same way that fear holds you back, dwelling on the past won’t give you anything new. How can it, when you’re focusing on something you can no longer change? 

Every new year, we say something like this: “Ring out the old/ring in the new”. 

But do we, really? Do we really give ourselves the gift of a blank slate if we keep reading the old chapters? 

Of course, it’s good to learn the lessons of the past, but only if we use them to move forward. 

Let go of your regrets. Forgive yourself and anyone who has hurt you. Choose to begin 2024 with a lighter spirit that’s filled with hope than regret. 

8) Staying in toxic relationships

This one’s for those who’ve spent the past year/s trying to love people who are no good for them. 

I get it – I’ve been in one too many relationships like that. The thing is, a toxic relationship could be enough to make you feel listless and disbelieving that the new year could offer anything exciting. 

Staying in a toxic relationship can damage us in so many ways, the most important of which is to erode our sense of self-worth.  You start to lose sight of who you are and the value you bring to the table. 

Unfortunately, this bleeds into other areas of your life – your work, your friendships, your ability to dream big, even your ability to appreciate the small joys. 

So examine your relationships as well. If they’re doing you more harm than good, it’s time to replace them with positive and supportive people. 

This move can open you up to the possibility that the future might be different. That it can be exciting and filled with the love and passion you deserve. 

9) Not giving back

Finally, I’d like to leave you with a tip that never fails to bring me out of a rut and renew me with a sense of purpose – give back to others. 

We’re often too preoccupied with ourselves. Our goals. Our net worth. Everything that relates to us. 

And so giving back isn’t something that we place as a priority. But you know what? We should! 

Because according to research, helping others decreases the impact of negative emotions. We end up having greater life satisfaction. 

The bottom line is, we’re part of a larger community and our actions can make a positive difference. Remembering that could be the push you need to start the new year on a more hopeful note.

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