How to Create Intentions & Goals for the New Year


The first month of the year sees many of us getting our footing. Whether you ascribe meaning to the new year or not, there’s something to be said for what it symbolizes, and it’s treated as such on a mass level in our culture. Coming out of the holiday haze is a process in and of itself, after which one may feel jolted and anxious to need a crystal clear vision for the year ahead… despite the holiday hangover (literal or emotional). 

Whatever your feelings on resolutions, we can all agree (and statistics show) that they are not always the best way to set ourselves up for success. The intention behind them, however, is a beautiful one from which I love to draw inspiration for my clients. As a substitute for (or addition to!) resolutions is setting a theme for your year. This is a mindful way of envisioning your year that allows you to plan with intention and set goals you’ll actually keep.

I’ve personally set themes many, many times. The beauty of it is that you can also set more specific themes for each month within an overarching theme for your year. For clients, I’ve seen this approach help them expand their vision beyond what they may have initially imagined. 

How To Do It:

Envision it.

Use the power of visualization here. What do you want your days to FEEL like? Go from there. Some people may moodboard or create Pinterest boards to help make it visual. Whatever works for you, go for it!

Write it out in a planner or calendar.

It may help you to just SEE that theme written somewhere, especially on days when motivation is low. For example, if you have a weekly planner, write your week or month’s theme somewhere in the margins. It’ll help you stay on track with those longer-term goals.

Revisit and reappraise.

I’ve written about reappraisal before. It’s important to check-in and take inventory every so often. You might schedule this out ahead of time: like a monthly or quarterly review. Think of it just as you would a review at work: but do one for yourself or have a coach/therapist help! You may change your theme or revise it throughout the year.

Ideas for Themes:

You may already feel a calling to a particular theme for your year (or however you want to break it down). A few ideas I’ve explored with success on my own or with clients include creativity, self-discipline, spirituality, freedom, patience, self-love, connecting the mind-body, etc. There are so many ways these can go, and it’s quite juicy when you dive in. For example, setting “freedom” as a theme is an exciting one. That could look like financial freedom, freedom from codependency in relationships, freedom from a 9-5 schedule, location independence, or all of the above! If you’ve been a workaholic for the last few years, perhaps you want to set creativity as your intention. Let your inner, creative child come out to play with a monthly artistic pursuit. This could look like taking a class or workshop/lesson, purchasing that guitar you’ve been eyeing, busting out the paints, taking up knitting, anything! You could revisit a favorite childhood hobby or pursue something completely new. In setting a theme, play some of the possibilities in your head and see how it feels in your body. Turning inward with meditation or having a coach help you through it will help you gain clarity. Above all, let this inspire you! If it already feels like a chore, maybe it’s not for you – move on and try something else until it aligns. 

Ultimately the goal of setting a theme to remember that you can feel good about getting your sh*t together, all while living with greater intention and integrity.

You may also like


When You Know and Why

Read More

The True Secret to Success

Read More

Let’s Talk About Codependency

Read More

Nothing changes when we follow the rules.