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Forming new habits and making lifestyle changes is difficult at any time of the year – let alone at the start of January when we’re in the thick of winter!

Whether you have some New Year’s resolutions in mind or you just want to set a few positive intentions for 2024, this self-reflection activity is designed to help you reflect, evaluate, and zero-in on what you want to achieve this year.

Ready? Grab your favourite pen and a journal and let’s go!

Self-reflection activity using the N.E.W. Y.E.A.R. acronym

N – What could I say no to in 2024?

According to Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result.

It really is so easy though to get stuck in the same cycles and patterns – even when we know that they do not benefit us in the long-term.

For example, we may find ourselves in an endless loop where we:

  • Allow toxic relationships to continue
  • Overspend
  • Work excessively long hours
  • Engage in negative self-talk
  • Overcommit ourselves

The list goes on!

We continue to say yes when what we really want to do is say no. And over time, this can lead to more serious mental health challenges such as burnout, chronic depression and/or anxiety, and more.

So as we look ahead to 2024, think about all the things you would rather say ‘no’ to. How will saying ‘no’ help your mental health? Make a note of one or two specific things that you would like to focus on.

E – What are my expectations?

Growth tends to happen when we are outside of our comfort zone – so it’s important to push yourself beyond what’s comfortable for you so that you can grow into the next version of yourself.
Setting clear goals that are ambitious and achievable not only help to give your life some structure and purpose, but they also help you to have some positive things to look forward to and reach for.

So what are your expectations this year? Are they positive or negative?

W – Who can help me?

As a counsellor, I see immense value in having regular counselling sessions. It is of utmost importance to me personally, which is why I commit to having monthly counselling sessions for myself. This helps to ensure that I am continuing to develop my emotional intelligence, and I also love hearing a different perspective.

Once you’ve had a think through some of the things mentioned in this blog, perhaps you may need some extra support to make your goals and intentions a reality! Whether that’s from a counsellor, coach, trainer, support group, or mentor – there are people out there ready to help you. All you have to do is ask.

Read to the end to find out more about my group coaching programme, Goalgetters, which kicks off in February 2024!

Y – What will I say yes to this year?

Being brave isn’t always about doing something ‘big’ or ‘daring’, it’s about facing things that are outside of your comfort zone from a place of courage and resilience.

Life is so short. It’s important that we embrace all the things that light us up whilst we have our health. Unfortunately, one major regret that people often have is not pursuing their passions while they had the chance.

So here are a few questions for you… is there anything on your to-do list that you have been meaning to get round to but never got the chance? What are the things you would do if you were 1% braver? What will you say yes to this year?

E – What are my exercise goals?

I talk about exercise a lot. That’s because our mental health and our physical health are inextricably linked. Exercise helps reduce stress, improves cognitive function, improves self esteem, boosts our energy levels and improves sleep – and that’s before we talk about its many benefits to our physical health.

So what are your achievable and realistic exercise goals this year? Write them down, make the necessary arrangements, and let’s go! Journaling your progress in a diary or blog can help you to stay focused.

A – What can you learn to accept and let go of?

The art of acceptance plays a key role in our ability to maintain good mental health. Embracing the past, learning to let go, and if possible, finding a way to forgive is crucial to self actualisation. By accepting the past, or making amends, you are able to learn and move forward from the things that are holding you back.

Is there anything to accept and move forward from in your life? Write them down and decide what you want to do with them.

When working with clients, I often suggest that they write down their thoughts in a letter. Once finished, they then draw a line under what they wrote and write, “However, I now chose to…’, this is where you get to choose what you want to do with your past experiences so that you can move forward.

R – Which relationships will you invest in?

Being a part of a supportive friendship group not only helps to prevent feelings of isolation, but it can also help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Friends provide us with a source of inspiration and motivation, and they help give us a sense of purpose.

Final question to ponder… are there any people you have neglected over the past few months that you would like to catch up with again this year? The strength of our relationships is our biggest source of wealth – but we must proactively invest in them.

Final Thoughts

If you find yourself struggling with your mental health in the new year, it’s best to seek help sooner rather than later.

If you are looking for regular 1-1 counselling, you can always reach out to me at hello@unstoppablelifecoaching.org.

I am also launching an online group coaching programme for four weeks in February called ‘Goalgetters’. This is a chance for you to set yourself up to win in 2024. If this interests you, please reach out to me at hello@unstoppablelifecoaching.org.

If you are in crisis and need immediate support, there are a number of different helplines available here in the UK:

You can also always explore our self-help resource here at The Lily-Jo Project, which features top tips, personal stories, and practical advice for maintaining good mental health.


2024 Mental Health Awareness Calendar

Stay on top of all the important dates and campaigns in the world of mental health with the help of this handy calendar provided by The Lily-Jo Project:

Download your FREE 2024 Mental Health Awareness Day Calendar.

For practical tips on using your calendar in your place of work, check out our blog article: Celebrating Wellbeing Year-Round.

About the Author: Lily-Jo

Lily-Jo is a qualified mental health counsellor, counselling supervisor, and senior coach at Unstoppable Life Coaching. She is also the founder of mental health organisation, The Lily-Jo Project, which is a platform devoted to using the power of music to educate, equip,

and empower people of all ages to take control of their mental health.

In 2023, she released her debut book Talking To Children About Mental Health, which focuses on the unique challenges that gen z and gen alpha are facing and how adults can help them. 

You can catch Lily-Jo on her podcast or stay connected on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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