New Year, New Intentions

New Year, New Intentions

Whether you are the hard-core goal setter, New Year’s resolutions kind or not, it’s hard to deny that the calendar year is a great way to mark time and measure progress.  For myself, goal-setting has seemed hardwired into my brain since I was a small child.  People used to chuckle at my ambitious new year’s goals.  Then a year later I would cause jaws to drop as I flashed my totally checked-off list.  For others, this process seems pointless and maybe even frustrating. The idea of focusing on such details of achievements is just not how they operate.  Either way, defined goals or big-picture intentions, using some sort of measure of time, like the calendar year, is an important part of moving your life in the direction you desire.  Without time, there is no way to see if we are making progress.  Additionally, by completing this process each year it creates a ritual.  Rituals have been identified as one of the great keys to a long, happy and fulfilling life.  However you choose to create a ritual around the new calendar year, I think you will find the process of reflecting, evaluating, and planning to be a great tool for creating the life of your dreams.

With that, I want to share with you my process for the New Year.  Take from this what you will.  Maybe you find it motivates you to create your own process.  Maybe you follow my process to a “T”.  Or maybe you take some bits and pieces from this and add it to your own rituals.  Whatever your New Year’s habits are, I hope that by reading about my process it sparks some inspiration for your own life.

Intentions vs Goals

Given my propensity to set and achieve specific goals without much trouble, I decided in 2017 to start setting New Year’s Intentions, rather than tasks to achieve.  My propensity to live and act in my left-brain has led me to look for opportunities to approach activities from a more right-brained place as I attempt to be a more balanced person. By focusing on intentions to live by I spend more time looking at the big picture of my life.  Plus, I really do believe that intention is everything.  I also love how the intentions can be applied to all areas of my life (business, personal, relational, spiritual, etc.) rather than tasks that are usually specific to one area of life.  This helps me to show up more authentically and live in a much more holistic way, rather than feeling like my life is compartmentalized and that there is a different version of myself for each area.

2017 Intentions

On January 1, 2017, I sat down at my kitchen table, lit a beautifully-scented candle, and journaled.  I reflected on 2016 and dreamed about 2017 and I wrote a lot.  I thought about the different areas of my life and realized that I didn’t want to live in this compartmentalized way. The process began with the intention of creating goals for 2017 and instead I came away with a list of intentions for how to live in 2017.  I find visual cues to be great reminders so I created a colored image to showcase my intentions.  Also, I had heard about the idea of choosing a one-word theme for the year (read more about the beautiful way the Universe sent me my word), so I included this in my image. Click to see my 2017 Intentions.

I loved everything about the way this ritual unfolded for me in 2017.  Living by these intentions felt guided and also freeing.  I knew that this would be a ritual that would work for me for at least the next few years.  Around mid-November, I sent my request to the Universe to start sending me signs for my one-word theme for 2018.  It happened much more quickly this year.  I took this as validation that my “trust the Universe” intention for 2017 was well-exercised!  For 2018, my one-word theme is JOY 🙂

2018 Intentions

For my 2017 reflection and 2018 intention-setting, I decided that I wanted to practice my ritual near the water.  So much of 2017 kept bringing me back to the water, showing me that this is where I feel most at home and most alive, so it just made sense. I drove up to my favorite lake in the mountains to spend a few hours reflecting, evaluating and planning.  lake

To begin, I reviewed 2017 in my mind, using pictures to help remind me of all the events of the year.  I journaled about what went well and what didn’t go so well.  Then I looked back at the themes I saw and the areas where I could see room for growth.  I reviewed my intentions for 2017 and reflected on whether I felt like I actually lived with these intentions on the whole for the year or if there were any the I wanted to continue for 2018.  I began writing out my intentions for 2018 based on where I desire my life to go and how I want to grow as a human.  There were a few too many so I found ways to cover 2 or 3 more specific intentions with a more general intention (aiming for more big-picture thinking).  

After I returned home I created my new image for 2018 on my computer to print out.  I keep a large copy of it next to my bed so that I see it every morning and evening and bookend my day with the reminders of my intentions for life.  I also keep a copy on my bathroom mirror so that I can see me and my intentions as one.  There is a small copy tucked into my journal so that I always have it with me when I travel.  

And here it is, my 2018 Intentions!

2018 Intentions

Keep in mind that while these phrases may not mean much to you, I know exactly what they mean to me.  And that is what matters.  This process is for me and it doesn’t need to make sense to anyone else.  Whatever you choose to create for yourself, make it for you! Try not to worry about whether it makes sense to anyone else or whether it is the right or wrong way to do it.  If it feels right to you and it speaks to you, then it is what is for you.


New Year, New Intentions: A 5-Step Process

This is my intention setting process broken down into 5 steps:

  • Choose a time and place that are sacred to you to allow you the freedom to delve deep inside without interruptions.  Allow at least a couple of hours.
  • Begin your reflection by reviewing the year. Remind yourself of what happened and what you did and how it all felt.  Sometimes it is helpful to look back at your calendar or review photos to spark the memories and feelings.
  • On a piece of paper or in a journal, write your thoughts on a few questions:

1. What went well this year?

2a. What did not go so well this year? What challenges did I face this year?

2b. What did I learn from these challenges? How would I like to see myself grow?

3. Review your thoughts and start jotting down themes that are present or areas where you can spot room for growth

  • Decide on your intentions by combining common themes and areas of growth.  Focus on using neutral or positive language and leaving off words like “don’t”, “can’t”, “should”, “never”, etc.
  • Create an image that is visually appealing to you to showcase your intentions.  Make a few copies and place them in spots that will remind you of your intentions every day.


Please let me know if you have any questions or comments or if you have a favorite New Year’s ritual.  I love hearing from you! Spread the Love and Share this with someone!

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Disclaimer: The information in this post is not intended as medical advice, or to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional. Marcelle encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research, and in partnership with your doctor, licensed dietitian, or nutritionist. The information provided in this post and the entire contents of are based upon the opinions of Marcelle Phene and are for general educational purposes, and have not been reviewed nor approved by the FDA. You are solely responsible for your health care and activity choices.

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