By: Laura M. Hays, MD FACEP

As we ring in the new year, we bid farewell to the old and welcome a fresh start.  Perhaps we can find some blank pages awaiting the details of our next chapters. How will your story go? Do you have ambitions and dreams that are yet to be realized? As the author of your life path so far, perhaps the new year can provide the writer’s inspiration you’ve been needing.

Some minimize the new year and especially – ahem – resolutions. But for many others, the start of a new year is a reset, offering an opportunity to reflect, take inventory, and set goals for self-improvement.

Change always involves stress…even if it’s a change that we want. Whenever we commit to change something, it’s important to be authentic and accountable. So, first, before diving headfirst into resolutions and aspirations, take a moment to examine the year gone by. Without dwelling or ruminating on the past, try to take a bird’s eye view of the previous twelve months. Acknowledge both the triumphs and challenges, and think about the lessons learned and the growth experienced. Reflection provides a valuable perspective and serves as a foundation upon which to build your aspirations for the characters, scenes, and changes in the unfolding plot.

Whether you choose to label them as “resolutions” or not, set meaningful goals. (If you don’t like goals, then establish “mileposts” along the journey.) In other words, take time to evaluate your core values and set goals that comport with those. Instead of chasing fleeting trends, focus on goals that contribute to your overall well-being and personal fulfillment. It may be pursuing a passion, enhancing relationships, becoming more physically fit or prioritizing mental health, but if the goals are meaningful for you then your motivation is less likely to wane.

Once you have established some intentions for the year, the next step is to determine a realistic action plan to create  the changes or enhancements you desire. A well-defined plan is sometimes the only difference between lofty ideas and tangible achievements. But, try not to overcomplicate things. Break down your goals into manageable steps, and write them down or communicate them with others, creating an outline that guides you through the coming months of your life writing.  Remember, the key is to strike a balance between ambition and feasibility to ensure sustained forward progress.

So, what happens next? How can you be inspired, encouraged and committed to change as the new year rolls on? By developing deeper self-awareness, cultivating a helpful and positive mindset, holding yourself accountable and embracing adaptability.

You are in charge of you, so accept that your success and growth (or lack thereof) is really under your control. Letting go of negative self-talk and beliefs that hold you back from realizing your greatest life are among the keys to sustainable change. If you approach the new year with a positive mindset, stay present and participatory in your own life, you will not just be set up for success. You also will be better prepared to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, rather than ruminating over setbacks. Even greater, if you can cultivate gratitude for the present moment and maintain a hopeful outlook on the future, you will not only see lasting change in your own well-being, you will also impact those around you for the better.

Of course, the journey into the new year is unpredictable, and the chapters you read at next year’s reflection may have unexpected twists and turns. Be open to adjusting your outline, learning from your first drafts, and seize new opportunities that arise along the way. Celebrate adaptability as a key trait to navigate the unknown.

The ripple effect of change applies to all aspects of your well-being. The beauty of this interconnectedness is that if you make any improvement to any part of your physical, mental, or spiritual fitness, you will experience positive changes in the others in time.

The support of friends and family is invaluable on the path to personal growth. Strengthen your connections with loved ones, sharing your aspirations and listening to theirs. A sense of community and shared experience enhances resilience and adds depth to your stories.

In conclusion, starting the new year is not merely about jotting down resolutions but about continuing a holistic journey of self-discovery and growth – if you let it be so.  By reflecting on the past, setting meaningful goals based on your core values, creating a realistic action plan, cultivating a positive mindset, finding gratitude in the present, embracing adaptability, and fostering connections, you write the way for a fulfilling and purposeful year ahead.

Here’s to the opportunities and challenges that the new year brings, and to your authorship of the best version of yourself. Cheers!



Dr. Laura Hays is an emergency physician with MEMA and co-founder of Lasting Impact Wellness Group – a health & well-being coaching and consulting company.  Check out her website at and tune in to her podcast “Lasting Impact Wellness” for more valuable insight and tips for optimal well-being.