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  • Writer's picturePaula Robertson

Setting New Year Intentions, not Resolutions

The New Year always brings me hope and optimism. In the past I usually sat down, thought about my Resolutions for the coming year, then started them enthusiastically…only to have them fizzle out in the couple of weeks. For example, I might start at the gym, or walk every evening, but then life intervenes and my good intentions often wouldn’t even last the month of January. Sound familiar? So now I focus more on setting intentions rather than resolutions. What’s the difference, you ask?

Resolutions are often in the form of a list of things we say we want to do. They typically are about taking on some action, like going to the gym, learning a new skill or losing weight. However, a lot of the time, they don’t stick and we may fall back into old habits.

Instead intentions come from the perspective of an identity shift – ie who do we want to become, rather than just what we want to achieve. It’s about shifting the belief behind our behaviours and then taking on actions in line with this new perspective.

So, how do we take this new perspective into the year ahead? Here’s some suggestions:

First, take time to be grateful for the past year...lessons learned, gifts and blessings received. In what way have you grown? What will you let go of?

Focus on the person you wish to become. Will you be someone who embraces their authentic self, welcomes love or is in the best possible shape? It may help to write down the new identity you want to take on as a manifesto of who you are becoming, in all aspects of your life, such as health, character, finances, relationships, career and spirituality. Keep this somewhere where you can see it as a daily reminder of the person you want to become.

Get crystal clear on your vision for the future. From the perspective of this new identity, what exactly do you want to call into your life? Visualise it with as much clarity as possible…what exactly would it look like, taste like or feel like when you achieve this in your life? It’s helpful for you to journal and write down your vision with as much detail as you can, or even do a vision board, if you feel so inspired.

Get clear on your why. Why is this vision important to you? What would it mean to you to achieve this? For example, would becoming healthier allow you to go on adventures or spend more time doing activities with the family, or have more energy to do the things that really inspire you? Take time to get clear on your why, because when things get tough this will help to pull you towards the actions you want to take in alignment with the vision of your new life.

What actions will you now take? Taking small intentional actions repeatedly will be what will get us closer to our vision. So what small steps can you take in the direction of your goals? How will you know when you get there? Just as importantly, what actions do you need to let go of, because they no longer serve you (or rather the you that you are becoming)? Take some time to write down the action steps you will take in the coming days, weeks and months to get closer to your vision, in alignment with the person who want to become.

Every few months it may be helpful to check in with yourself and do a little ‘audit’ to see how well you’re keeping on track with your intentions – are they still relevant and valid? What is going well? What adjustments, if any, do you need to make to keep you on track?

Have fun with this and really give it your attention – it may be one of the most important actions you take for the year.

Wishing you an intentional New Year,

Be well,


Dr Paula Robertson is a busy mom and a paediatrician with over twenty years' experience working with young people and their families. You can find out more at

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