It’s January, which is typically the time we all start thinking about New Year resolutions and what we might want to achieve over the next 12 months. Of course, goal-setting can come at any time of the year, but the New Year offers provides an ideal clean slate, and is often the time where we both reflect over the previous year and begin to look ahead. From starting a new fitness routine to organising our wardrobes, New year resolutions can come in all forms.
I don’t know about you, but I have mixed feelings about New Year resolutions. I often start the year full of motivation, ambition and good intentions once I’ve set my goals. But by the time March rolls around, I find that life can get in the way, routines can be disrupted and it can be tricky to stay on track. Sticking with a goal or a new routine can prove difficult.
This year, however, I’m willing to try things a little differently. An opportunity came up to speak with Roxie Nafousi, author of the bestselling book Manifest and manifestation expert, and after our conversation, it shifted my entire perspective to making—and sticking to—New Year resolutions. Scroll ahead for all the gems of advice she gave me. But first, you might be thinking: what is manifesting exactly?
Roxie Nafousi is the author of the best-selling book, Manifest.
Let’s first get clear on manifesting, which can often be understood as wishing things into existance. “Manifesting is using the power of your mind to change and create the reality you’re living in—it’s a self development practise,” says Nafousi. She explains that it is often confused with the law of attraction (in which its believed that positive thoughts lead to positive outcomes). With manifestation, she tells me, we’re instead attracting what we believe.
“A big part of manifesting is about our belief system,” says Nafousi. “Our belief system not only changes what we attract into our lives, but it changes the way we feel about ourselves. And so manifesting is really about empowerment, self-belief, confidence and becoming the best version of ourselves. It’s about being able to step out of our own way, take risks and go through with the things that we actually want,” she says.
With that being said, there are limits to manifestation. And no, we can’t manifest winning the lottery (sorry). “I always get asked, ‘Can you manifest a specific person?’ And the answer is no, says Nafousi. “You also can’t manifest for somebody else, and you can’t manifest something that is only to do with luck, like winning the lottery. There has to be a degree of an element of something that you have control over,” she adds.
Manifesting can act as a useful framework to create goals that you’ll actually stick to.”I always say that the goals are actually the cherry on top, but the actual gift of manifesting is helping us become happier,” she says. Scroll ahead for how to implement it into your New Year’s resolutions and goal-setting.
Nafousi tells me that getting to the real purpose behind your goal is key.
“[The New Year] is this really unique time where we have this sense of a new beginning and a fresh start. And so with that energy, people are more motivated to do things differently or change things. And I think that’s always a good thing. What I think can get missed is that people focus on what they want to change without really thinking about where that’s leading them,” she says.
Getting really granular about how you’ll execute your goals with steps is key. “Without the focus or the purpose behind why they want to make that change, what happens is that initial excitement of the new year wanes the resolutions and fall off,” says Nafousi. “Whereas if you’re using manifestation, what you’re doing is you’re focusing really heavily on specific goals. You know, why do you want to make the change?”
Nafousi breaks it down in an example for someone who may be wanting to get ahead in their career. “So you could say, ‘OK, I’m going to get to work 10 minutes earlier every day, so I don’t feel rushed because my goal is to be promoted to a particular position by the end of the year. Or, let’s say, ‘Because I own my own business, I want to have this many clients by the end the year, and that extra 10 minutes is going to really add up.’ Knowing why you’re doing something is going to help the on the days when you don’t really feel like it,” says Nafousi. “Resolutions are great, but know why you’re doing it and what the goal is at the end of it.”
At the start of the year, it can be useful to break your goals into categories. “I always suggest splitting your life into categories so that you can get a full picture of what your life is like,” says Nafousi. “So you know, personal relationships, romance, work life, home life and personal development, which is more like how you want to feel within yourself,” she says.
“Then, within each section, make sure that you’re clarifying your goal. But really allow yourself to be as big as possible in those dreams. When you’re thinking about your goals, I do think it’s really important to make sure that your goals are really aligned with your most authentic self and who you actually are,” she says. “Because sometimes we make goals that are based on what people want for us. Or, what we used to want it, and actually, we don’t allow ourselves to actually realise that maybe we’ve changed and the things that we want are different,” she adds. “And those things that we thought made us happy actually don’t. And so it’s a really nice opportunity to also get clear on what you actually want.”
Another of Nafousi‘s tips for creating goals? Dream big. “I think that it is definitely possible to dream too small,” she says. “And I always say that most people will write down goals that they think are ‘realistic’. And I hate that because what is actually happening is your insecurities are running the show and they’re telling you what is too big or too small, and so that’s what we don’t want,” she says. “What we want when we’re thinking about our goals and our dreams is to say to ourselves that, ‘If fear and doubt were no object, if I could do anything, what is it that I really want?’,” she says.
However, it’s essential to get clear on how you’ll make it happen, and what purpose it serves. “Let’s say you were thinking about having a certain amount of money next year. Don’t just think of a number out of thin air just because it sounds good. Try to be real with yourself on it. What is it you actually want that money for? What’s it going to give you? What’s the purpose behind it? Is that actually gonna bring you happiness and contentment? I think there needs to be meaning behind the goal. If you feel that, for example, that having a certain amount of clients will bring you joy, or having a big house will bring you joy, put it down. But don’t go big just for the sake of it—be intentional.”
Nafousi shares how she put this into practise when writing her first book. “Before my first book came out, no one had read it. And I put things like ‘Sunday Times bestseller’ and ‘multiple languages’. But at the time, these were all completely outlandish. But they were huge dreams and they did happen,” she says. “I had a very strong purpose behind it—purposes that I truly wanted: as many people as I possibly could get to read it across the globe and to positively change their lives. So there was a real intention behind it.”
When we think about New Year’s resolutions, its easy to think we have to set huge or overwhelmingly ambitious goals. But this doesn’t have to be the case—goals can be small rituals that enhance or bring joy to your life.
“In 2023, my goals weren’t all these crazy big career goals. Although there were some, mine were things like work-life balance. And that was the thing that I was focusing on. I think everyone should have a goal. Everybody needs things to work towards, but they just they don’t all have to be these big things that need a certain energy behind it. It could be that you want to get really good at a hobby,” she says. It could be that you want to make more me-time into your week or get back into reading again—anything that makes you feel joyful. “Your goals can be whatever you want, but just make sure that there’s a real purpose behind it,” says Nafousi.
Fallen off the bandwagon? Or maybe one week was a total flop? It happens. But what matters is how you bounce back, says Nafousi.
“Firstly, sometimes you just need to let yourself have that time to be ‘off ‘. You don’t have to be motivated and ‘on’ all the time, so make sure you’ve given yourself enough compassion first,” she says. “Once you feel like you’ve had your time of retreating and feeling sorry for yourself for a little bit, then we have to kick ourselves up the ass and re-energise ourselves with that clarity of what your goals are. What do you want to achieve? Why do you want to achieve them? What are they going to bring you? What change do you want? I find that is always helpful.”
Nafousi calls these tricky moments ‘tests from the universe’. “You’re going to have bad days and you’re still going to have shit weeks. But, you know how to pull yourself out of it. You know how to make that into a positive experience. You know there’s levelling up on the other side,” she says.
Are you keeping on track with your goals? Or maybe you’ve achieved a huge milestone? Celebrate it, says Nafousi.
“I think being able to celebrate yourself and give yourself reward when you’ve done things for a certain amount of time is really key in manifestation,” she says. “Let’s say every day that month you did do that thing on your New Year’s resolution list. Really take time to feel proud of yourself,” she says. “Really think about that feeling of pride. Reflect on what that has actually done for you, how that’s made you feel how it’s helped you to progress, and then how you can reward yourself for that. It’s a really nice way to reinforce good habits.”
Nafousi’s book details the 7 key steps to manifesting.
The Dive Deeper book has exercises that help you stay on track with your goals, and help discover what you really want.
This daily journal helps you reflect with helpful exercises to keep you on track.
A great read for establishing habits and routines that stick.
A luxe notebook makes goal-setting all the more fun.