How to Have Your Best Year Ever by Setting New Year Intentions Instead of Resolutions

Have you heard of New Year intentions? New Year intentions are the more effective cousin of New Year resolutions — which tend to get abandoned and forgotten by February 1st, even by the most dedicated among us. New Year’s intentions are a kinder, gentler way to work with human psychology to achieve your big goals. Rather than employing white-knuckled willpower, New Year intentions help you ease into changing your habits and by extension, your life.   

But how do you set intentions? What’s the difference in goals vs intentions? And what if goal setting for the new year sounds about as appealing as swimsuit shopping — is there a way to actually enjoy the process?

Keep reading for my personal, 3-step process for creating powerful New Year intentions and achieving my goals, year after year.  

Resolutions Vs Intentions

Just in case you’re not familiar with New Year’s intentions, let me quickly break them down for you. 

You’ve probably made promises at the beginning of the New Year plenty of times. New Year’s resolutions have been popular tools humans have used to try to improve their lives for thousands of years.

New Year’s resolutions usually look something like this:

  • I promise to never again touch a piece of chocolate
  • I vow to exercise every day for the entire year
  • I will never, ever again fight with my partner, even when they leave little dribbles of toothpaste all over the bathroom counter

Resolutions are by definition finite. They are something you must “resolve” to do. Resolutions conjure up feelings of determination. Of extreme willpower. And heaps of anxiety, too.

The Power Of New Year Intentions

Now, maybe the whole “resolution” tradition works for you. Maybe you’ve been successfully setting and achieving New Year’s resolutions for years now. And if that’s how you roll, fantastic!

For most of the rest of us, New Year’s resolutions tend to be something we set — and then forget. 

Maybe you focus on your resolution intently for a few weeks, but by the time February rolls around, life gets in the way. You become ill and you physically can’t use the treadmill for exactly 30 minutes every single day. Or your spouse loses their job and you suddenly can’t afford to eat only organic produce.

And therein lies the issue with resolutions and why, for most of us, they just don’t work. Resolutions don’t account for real life, and that’s why they fail to move your goals forward in any real, meaningful way. Resolutions require an all-or-nothing mindset. And most of the time, they end up making you feel like a failure. Which is exactly the opposite of what they are meant to do!

What Is An Intention?

An intention is a bit looser than a resolution. An intention combines a goal with purpose and also includes a nod to how you want to feel. Where a resolution requires steadfast commitment and a pass/fail grade, an intention works with you to create results.

An intention can look something like:

  • I will be more present in my daily life
  • I will make choices that support my health
  • I will pursue adventure 

A New Year’s intention should be a positive thing, not a negative one. When setting intentions for the new year, try to think about things you want to do and how you want the year to feel, instead of focusing on “things you will never do again.” 

How To Write New Year Intentions

When it comes to intentions for the new year, it’s important to remember that you can’t really do it wrong. That’s probably the most important thing I’d like to stress. The process that I’m outlining here is just to help you create your own ritual for setting New Year’s intentions. Just remember to have fun with it and enjoy the process of becoming a little more intentional in your life.

How To Set New Year Intentions In 3 Easy Steps

Every year, I like to sit down and create my New Year intentions. Some years, I start working on this around Thanksgiving. Other years, it takes me until the week after Christmas to get the process started. But I always start thinking about my new goals for the new year before January starts. 

You might like to start the process of new year goal setting in February when Spring is around the corner. Or maybe the start of a new school year sets your heart on fire and that’s when the new year intention-setting process works best for you. Feel free to make it your own!

Here’s how I do it. 

1. Reflect On What’s Working And What Isn’t

First off, you have to reflect on the year that has passed.

In order to move forward and set intentions for the new year, you’ve got to make an honest assessment of what worked and what didn’t last year. This is such a critical part of my New Year intention-setting ritual. Why? 

Because so often, we tend to keep on doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And that’s how Einstein defined insanity, right? 

Here’s what we’re told: if you’re not getting the results you want, it’s because you’re not trying hard enough. You’re a failure. You just don’t have the willpower.

But I say if you’re not getting the results you want, it’s because you haven’t created the right goal! Reflecting on what’s working and what isn’t allows you to adjust your sails and double down on the places where you feel strong. 

2. Setting Intentions For The New Year

Once you’ve evaluated your strong places and weaker spots, it’s time to really get in touch with your heart.

How many times have you chosen a New Year’s resolution because it’s what you were *supposed* to want? 

How often have you picked your New Year’s resolution to torture yourself? Or chosen it from a place of negativity? Do you usually set your goals for the new year based on a list of things you desperately want to change about yourself or your body?

This year, let’s leave the negativity behind.

Let’s make our intentions for the new year from a place of love and appreciation for our God-given strengths. I’m here to tell you this, girlfriend…you don’t need to be anyone else other than exactly who you are.

Try to set intentions that reflect that.

And try not to create a whole laundry list of intentions. One is great, but if you can’t limit yourself to just one, try to keep the list as small as possible. It’s so much easier to focus on a handful of goals than it is to try to accomplish everything. Remember, we’re trying to set ourselves up for success here.

Usually, I journal my thoughts for a few days or weeks and that helps me arrive at the true intention I want to set for the year. 

3. Create A Visible Reminder

Once you’ve selected your goals and made your New Year intentions, it always helps to create a visible reminder of your work.

Sometimes, I write my New Year’s intentions on a sticky note that I leave on my computer monitor or my bathroom mirror. Other times, I write my intentions down every morning in my journal to help me focus on what I’m trying to accomplish. 

I’ve also seen people distill their intentions down to a single word and then have that word engraved into a piece of jewelry that they wear every day. That seems like such a fun idea to me!

Vision boards can be really powerful tools here, too. This is where you paste pictures that represent your intention onto a poster board and put it somewhere you will see it every day. 

How To Set Intentions For The New Year

So, there you have it. Goal setting for the new year doesn’t have to be about deprivation or beating yourself up over what you didn’t accomplish. 

I’d like to think that this process will help guide you into creating beautiful intentions and positively crushing your goals for the new year. 

Because that’s the beauty of New Year intentions

When you create an intention that works with your strengths, makes you feel energized and positive, and remind yourself to stay true to it — you’ll find that at the end of the year, you’ve actually accomplished what you set out to.

Making Your New Year Intentions Work For You

Once you’ve selected an intention, you have to try to make your choices and decisions in support of the intention throughout the year. 

For example, if you choose the intention “I will strengthen my relationships,” then use that mantra to guide you. When faced with a choice to stay late at the office or go home and have dinner with your husband, you go home. When you have the opportunity to go to a concert with a friend, you choose to get your chores done early so you can make the date. 

And if you don’t make the “right” choice 100% of the time all year long, that’s still OK! Because even if you make decisions that support the strengthening of your relationships 75% of the time throughout the year, you’ll still approach 2025 with some seriously improved relationships — and that’s why setting New Year intentions works so well and feels so amazing.  

Goals For The New Year Ideas

I know it’s always easier to try something new when you have other ideas to help you get started.

Here are some examples of New Year’s intentions to get those goal-setting muscles nice and warmed up.

  • I will focus on positivity in my life
  • I will serve others well
  • I will put myself first without feeling guilty
  • I will live my healthiest life
  • I will build wealth
  • I will practice gratitude more
  • I will use social media less
  • I will read more
  • I will prioritize my sleep schedule

Remember, these are just examples of New Year’s intentions to inspire you. Setting intentions works best when you choose one that feels close to your heart.  

>> If your goal is to live your healthiest life and feel more vibrant and full of energy this year, then click here to join me for the Keto-Green 16 Challenge that starts January 8, 2024!  

Fitness Goals For The New Year

It seems that every year, tons of people, especially women, set fitness goals for the New Year. It seems like everyone wants to lose weight. 

And I love that! Exercise has the power to transform your health and your mood. Exercise is like a magic pill for your body. And losing weight helps improve your inflammation markers, your blood sugar levels, and your blood pressure. These are all admirable goals to work towards, especially if you’re menopausal and experiencing increases in all these crucial health indicators at once. 

How To Make Your Weight Loss Goals Stick — Finally!

The problem I see is that just like with resolutions, we keep making the same mistakes over and over again with our diet and exercise regimens. 

We say “Oh, if I can just go back to being perfect every single day for 6 months, I know I can lose the weight.” 

And that’s why you find yourself back in exactly the same spot year after year.

Not because you’re a failure, but because you’re setting the wrong goal. 

And you have to stop focusing on a number on a scale or the way your jeans fit. You want to lose weight so you feel good. You want to improve your health in a meaningful way and have energy again. You want to see your blood pressure go down and your insulin sensitivity go up.

And that’s exactly what I’m going to guide you to do this year during the Keto-Green 16 Challenge that starts on January 8, 2024. 

During this challenge, we’ll create massive changes in your health in just 16 days.

You’ll have a chance to *finally* unlock the secret to achieving your health and weight loss goals — and keep them going throughout the year.

Because this challenge includes what every other ‘weight loss’ program doesn’t:

  • Supervision from a doctor who’s here to help, not lecture
  • A community of others on the same path for support
  • Ask you to eat boring and bland foods for every meal (there are SO many delicious foods in this challenge!)

This is YOUR year to step off the weight loss rollercoaster and finally get your health back on track.

Click here to learn more about the Keto-Green 16 Challenge and how it can help you get there.

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Dr. Anna Cabeca

Dr. Anna Cabeca

Certified OB/GYN, Anti-Aging and Integrative Medicine expert and founder of The Girlfriend Doctor. During Dr. Anna’s health journey, she turned to research to create products to help thousands of women through menopause, hormones, and sexual health. She is the author of best-selling The Hormone Fix, and Keto-Green 16 and MenuPause.

Learn more about my scientific advisory board.