Mental Health Tips
January 9, 2023

Five Steps for Setting New Year’s Intentions

Written by
Sabrina Schoneberg, LCSW
Reviewed by
Updated on
April 1, 2024

Setting goals can be motivating and helpful. However, many typical New Year’s resolutions can leave us feeling bad about ourselves and are demotivating, especially when we have trouble reaching them. 

This year, we encourage you to try something different and set intentions instead.It can be helpful to think of intentions like a compass: they can give you a direction to head in while you figure out the details of your journey over the next year. 

Here are five steps to help you set your New Year’s intentions.

1. Approach intention-setting from a growth mindset

A growth mindset involves acknowledging your ability to grow and develop through hard work, good strategies, and input from others. We can start by reflecting on what we are proud of and have accomplished in the last year, and think about how we want to grow in the next year.

2. Identify your values

Values can be a great place to start when it comes to setting  intentions. It can be helpful to look at a list of values and narrow down what feels most important to you. 

3. Identify what needs to change

Once we identify our values, we can think about what we are already doing to live in alignment with our values and where we are not doing so. From there, we can identify what needs to change. Think about what would help you fill in the gaps. 

4. Set intentions

We can craft our intentions by incorporating how we want to grow and ultimately move closer to our values. We can even use our values in our intentions. For example, if balance is a value you want to work toward, an intention might look like, “I want to consider the balance between taking care of myself and others when making decisions this year.”

5. Hold yourself accountable

Think about how you can hold yourself accountable to your intentions:

  • Where can you write them down?
  • Is there someone you can share your intentions with?
  • How are you going to check in with yourself around your intentions?
  • Do you want to set an intention check-in reminder on your calendar?

If this time of year and being surrounded by messages of self-improvement and high achievement is hard for you, consider approaching your New Year’s outlook with intention-setting instead. Setting a few meaningful intentions can be more valuable than attempting to do it all, so take a moment to jot down some core values and think about your intentions for 2023 — and remember to set them in a gentle, thoughtful way that works for you.

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