Closing out a year and preparing for a new year ahead is the perfect time to reflect, make things better, and dream up a future that feels just right. If regular New Year’s resolutions haven’t really worked for you, there’s a much better way of doing things – by setting intentions for the new year instead.
New Year’s resolutions have a bad track record – they don’t give us much room for movement and they don’t really give us any guidance for how we want to feel and what we want our life to look like. That’s where new year intentions are a far more effective solution.
This guide is your step-by-step resource for the process of intention-setting, preparing for a year filled with intentionality and joy.
What Is An Intention?
The dictionary defines intentions to be something you ‘plan to do or achieve. An aim with purpose.‘
Intentions are like the aspirations you cast for a positive life direction. They’re not about hitting specific targets but are instead more about how you want to feel and what direction you want to take your life. Living with intention means making choices that match up with your values and knowing your purpose.
Why New Year’s Intentions Are Better Than New Year’s Resolutions
Regular New Year’s resolutions often hinge on lofty goals, laden with pressure, that frequently lead to disappointment. They tend to emphasise outcomes over the journey itself.
Intentions, in contrast, offer a more fluid and compassionate approach. They focus on progress, flexibility, and self-compassion. There is more feeling involved, rather than an end goal that has no real meaning or action plan.
Why Intentions Are Your Secret Superpower
There are many reasons why setting intentions is far more effective for long-term positive change and life satisfaction. Here are just a few of the key reasons why intentions are beneficial:
- Lifestyle Focused: Intentions cover all parts of your life – not just one thing – making self-improvement more well-rounded.
- Progress, Not Perfection: Intentions celebrate you for making progress, not just reaching a perfect goal. Change takes time, and being intentional means getting a little bit closer each day.
- Rolling with the Punches: Life can be all over the place, and intentions work with that. Unlike a resolution that has a single outcome, intentions can be adjusted or met in different ways, with much more flexibility.
- Less Overwhelming: Resolutions often mean huge changes that are tough to stick to. Intentions are about forming habits that fit into your everyday life.
- Living Your Values: Intentions make you think about yourself, your core values and what really matters. This helps you live a more purposeful life.
How To Set Intentions For A New Year
These steps will help you to create new year intentions that are relevant to you and 5 simple steps that you can do anytime… they don’t just need to be at the start of a new year! Here’s how to set new year intentions:
1. What Is Really Important
Think about the things that mean the most to you. Your intentions should match up with your core values. Take some time first to identify your personal core values, especially if you’ve never done this before. You can find a list of 50 core values here if you need some help getting started.
Most importantly, remember that your core values are what matters to you, not what others think you should do or be.
2. Look Back First
Take a look back at the past year – what went well, what was hard, and what you learned. It helps you see where you want to make things better before you jump right in with setting your new intentions.
Were you out of alignment with your values?
It can be helpful to do a life audit as part of this process, giving ratings to each of the core areas of your life – i.e. health, relationships, family, career, finances, spirituality.
This will help you work out which of these areas needs the most focus in the new year before you start planning your intentions.
3. Identify Your Intentions For The New Year
Now that you’ve got a clear idea with what your personal values are and where in your life you need to focus, you can start creating your intentions.
You can’t fix everything at once, and that’s okay. Choose a few things that really matter to you and go from there. You can always add more later.
You may choose a single intention for the new year, or you may choose 2 or 3. I wouldn’t recommend having any more than this as it is much harder to focus on several areas of your life than it is to dedicate your focus to one or two intentions.
4. See It, Feel It
Bring your intentions to life by putting them in writing, making a vision board, or saying them out loud. Put them where you’ll see them a lot – like a note on your computer or as a daily reminder on your phone.
Make sure of daily positive affirmations related to your intentions to help you start the day with the right focus.
Try creating a vision board on display somewhere that you spend a lot of time. This might be a word cloud, a pinboard with magazine cutouts and images or a collage you create in a program such as Canva that you can save as your phone or computer background.
5. Review & Revise
Like any goal, habit or aspiration, it’s important to take time to review your progress and revise if needed. Intentions are no different.
Have you taken actions that are aligned with your new intentions? Do you feel like you are living your values?
If not, are there new ways you can do things or do you need to shift your focus entirely and create a new intention for the remaining portion of the year?
New Year Intention Ideas
Still feeling a little stuck? Here are some ideas for intentions for the new year that you can get some inspiration from and perhaps even set for your own intentions this coming year:
- Cultivate Mindfulness: Set the intention to practice mindfulness daily, whether through meditation, deep breathing exercises, or simply being present in the moment.
- Prioritise Self-Care: Make self-care a non-negotiable part of your routine. This could involve regular breaks at work, pampering sessions, or dedicating time to hobbies that bring you joy.
- Nurture Relationships: Focus on building and maintaining meaningful connections with friends and family. Set aside quality time for those who matter most to you.
- Embrace Learning: Foster a curious mindset by setting the intention to learn something new regularly. It could be a language, a skill, or exploring topics that pique your interest.
- Promote Gratitude: Make it a habit to express gratitude daily. Consider keeping a gratitude journal or taking a moment each day to reflect on the positive aspects of your life.
- Practice Kindness: Set the intention to spread kindness wherever you go. Small acts of kindness, whether to strangers or loved ones, can create a ripple effect of positivity.
- Focus on Physical Well-Being: Instead of rigid fitness goals, set the intention to prioritise your physical health. This could involve activities you enjoy, mindful eating, or getting adequate sleep.
- Cultivate Resilience: Embrace challenges with a positive mindset. Set the intention to view setbacks as opportunities for growth and resilience and dig deep into reflection and self-discovery when challenges arise.
- Live A More Simplify Life: Declutter your physical and mental space. Set the intention to simplify your life by letting go of unnecessary possessions, commitments, or thoughts that weigh you down.
- Foster Creativity: Make room for creativity in your life. Whether it’s through art, writing, or exploring new hobbies, set the intention to express yourself and tap into your creative side.
- Promote Environmental Consciousness: Commit to eco-friendly practices. Set intentions to reduce waste, conserve energy, or support sustainable initiatives in your daily life.
- Establish Healthy Boundaries: Learn to say no when necessary and set healthy boundaries in both personal and professional relationships. This intention ensures you prioritise your well-being.
- Cultivate Financial Wellness: Instead of vague financial resolutions, set specific intentions for your financial well-being. This could include saving a certain percentage of your income, creating a budget, or investing wisely.
- Encourage Personal Reflection: Dedicate time for self-reflection regularly. Setting this intention allows you to assess your goals, values, and personal growth, leading to a more fulfilling life.
- Promote Positivity in Media Consumption: Be mindful of what you consume. Set the intention to engage with media that uplifts and inspires you, avoiding negativity and excessive screen time that might drain your energy.
Final Thoughts: A New Year with Purpose
Setting intentions for the new year is like plotting a course for yourself, aiming for a year filled with meaning and joy. It’s not about stressing yourself out like regular resolutions sometimes do, but instead, it’s about making positive changes that really matter to you. Follow the steps above, pick intentions that hit home, and get ready for a year of growth, joy, and living with intention.
What intentions will you be setting for yourself this year?