2024 goals: how to master realistic New Year goal-setting

It's a trope as old as time. January rolls around and we enter a flurry of New Year goal-setting – only to feel like a failure by February when we inevitably miss our lofty targets.

Newsflash: you are not the problem. It might simply be that your 2023 goals were a little unrealistic.

There's nothing wrong with aiming high. But you can't shoot for the stars without first landing on the moon.

Want to make 2024 the year of getting stuff done? Start by giving your New Year goal-setting a shake-up. Here's our guide to establishing realistic targets – and sticking to them.

Define your goals clearly – and make sure they're achievable


There's a reason we're talking about New Year goal-setting rather than New Year's resolutions. Resolutions are flaky. Slippery. They're difficult to define – and difficult to keep. Resolutions say things like, 'I want to lose weight this year' or 'I'm going to do more exercise'.

But how much weight? And how much exercise?

If you don't clearly define your goals, you'll only end up disappointing yourself. Sure, you might lose a few pounds – but will you feel like you've lost enough? A mirror is the harshest critic, after all.

So, set small, clearly defined targets instead. Instead of 'losing weight', tell yourself you'll shed 12 pounds by March. And instead of 'doing more exercise', aim to increase your workout time by a set (and sensible) amount each month.

These goals are realistic and attainable. If you meet them, great – you can always aim higher once you've climbed the first hurdle.


Focus on you


Often, people set New Year goals like, 'I'll argue less with my partner' or 'I'll get a promotion'. These types of goals are well-meaning gambles. They're attainable, of course – but so is winning the jackpot on a slot machine.

The problem? They rely too much on others. If your partner doesn't put in the effort to improve your relationship, your goal is a bust. And as for that promotion – well, you can't control what your boss thinks or whether your colleague puts in 10 hours of overtime each week.

Instead, direct your New Year goal-setting towards the one thing you can control: you. It's not selfish to concentrate on your health and your well-being. It's sensible.

Remember: you are the master of your own destiny – and nobody else's. So keep your New Year goal-setting realistic and focus your efforts where they matter.


Take a holistic approach

There's nothing wrong with wanting a slimmer silhouette, a healthier mind or a fatter wallet. But it's important to strike a balance. If you put all your resolutionary eggs in one basket, you might end up neglecting your emotional needs in pursuit of perfect abs – or vice versa.

That's why we recommend a holistic approach to New Year goal-setting – one that gives equal weight to the mind, body and spirit.

This isn't as simple as saying, 'I'll push myself at the gym and try a bit of meditation on the side'. In the world of wellness, the needs of the mind and body are inseparable. The body can feed the mind – and the mind can starve the body.

Only you can find the right balance for your individual needs, wants and lifestyle. On which note…


Make sure your New Year goal-setting matches your lifestyle

Remember that a new year is not a blank slate. Despite what magazines and self-help gurus might say, New Year goal-setting isn't about forging a 'new you'. It's about creating a better you. This means acknowledging the status quo and building on what you've already accomplished, brick by achievable brick.

So be optimistic but realistic. If you work long hours, you might not have time to become a world champion weightlifter by Christmas. If you have four mouths to feed and put to bed every day, you might not 'struggle with procrastination' but simply lack the energy to do much else.

That's fine. That's you. Accept it and work within the boundaries of your life and your lifestyle. Again, this means setting small, sensible goals that you have the time, ability and energy to accomplish.


Treat failure with curiosity

Let's be very clear: failing is not out of the question. Prepare for it – and embrace it. Failure is not a dead end. It's another destination on your lifelong journey of self-improvement.

If you do fail, be kind to yourself. Don't beat yourself up about it – but do ask yourself why it happened. Interrogate your failures. Approach them with curiosity, like you're getting to know a new friend or an old book.

It might be that your circumstances changed. Perhaps you suffered a loss or won a new contract. If this happens, simply adjust your goals and try again. Life is unpredictable – and your goals should adapt to change, just as you do.

It could even be because you didn't try hard enough. This is fine too. Just remember that there's always a reason behind 'not trying' – and this could be anything from a destructive habit to a mental health challenge.

Reflect on yourself. Try to uncover the reason behind your failure – and focus your energy on improving that instead.


Start as you mean to go on

New Year goal-setting is all well and good. But when the party dies down, a familiar realisation kicks in: 2024 is just as much a mountain as 2023. It can be hard to maintain a sense of optimism when you're faced with the same old surroundings, the same old bills and the same old nine-to-five.

So make a change. Start the new year on a new footing and treat yourself to the sense of something special. This could be as simple as refreshing your living space. Rearrange the furniture, throw out some surplus stuff and invest in a few aromatherapy diffusers. New sights – and smells – can make all the difference to your get-up-and-go.


Kickstart a fresh routine

Even if you spruce up your surroundings, learning new habits is hard. So it might be worth giving your routine an early spring clean too.

That's what we're here for.

The Glass House is a detox and wellness retreat set within the peaceful Essex countryside. When you visit us, you'll swap everyday habits for a routine of rest, relaxation and holistic recuperation.

And we really do mean 'holistic'. Our goal is to rejuvenate the mind and body in equal measure. That's why we offer spa treatments and healthy, plant-based meals alongside cardio sessions and strength training.

Stay for a weekend of intense tranquillity. Or go all in with a full week of transformative wellness. Either way, you'll pick up positive, long-lasting habits and give your New Year goal-setting the best chance of success.

We can't wait to welcome you into the new year – and your new, healthier routine.