How to set realistic intentions for the new year

As December comes to a close—and we look ahead to 2023—we bid farewell to another chapter. But it’s important to remember that where we’re going is a catalyst of where we’ve been. If you haven’t done so already, now’s the time to reflect on the year’s ups and downs, milestones, experiences, adventures, tribulations, and everything in between. While everyone approaches the new year differently, today I’m sharing how to set realistic intentions for 2023. This guide isn’t about strict resolutions or overhauling your entire life. Rather, creating intentions are about tapping into your unique needs and wants. New year, evolved you.

how to set realistic intentions for 2023 with a notebook, pen, a cup of coffee, and paper clips.

a mindset shift

Another trip around the sun, another batch of, “I resolve to…” We all know the drill: we seek goals like a specific number on the scale, a particular salary, or quitting caffeine. And once these things happen, we expect our lives to magically transform. Often times, that’s not the case. Like diets, most resolutions are unattainable and superficial. Instead, I encourage you to turn to intention-setting. It’s a gentler, more realistic approach. In essence, intention-setting is less about a specific goal and more about a mindset shift. This habit-forming shift helps you achieve your goals.


A resolution might look like…I want to meditate every day. Or, I want to lose 10 pounds. Whereas, realistic intentions might look like…

What are resolutions?

Resolutions are things you want to change to improve your life. However, without structure, an action plan, and discipline, most resolutions fail. Intentions, on the other hand, are more like a how-to for making your life better. They’re about forming everyday habits—a way to keep you accountable in the process of achieving your resolutions. While a resolution tethers you to the future with no clear path forward, an intention grounds you in the present.

Why do resolutions fail?

Studies show 45% of Americans usually set New Year’s resolutions. But a mere 8% of people actually end up reaching those goals. The problem? Shooting for ambitious new goals (without a strategy) often sets you up for failure. We get so excited about the end goal, we forget about the steps we need to take to actually get there. In other words, it’s about the journey—not the destination. To take it one step further: maybe it’s actually less about the journey itself and more the company you’re journeying with.

a hiker standing on a hillside, overlooking a flowing river, green grass, cloudy skies, and a mountain range_how to set realistic intentions for 2023

How to set intentions for the new year

Without further ado, below are seven ways to set realistic intentions for 2023. This guide provides structure and encourages a practical approach.

1. REFLECT ON YOUR highs and lows

In a situation like the new year, moving forward requires reflecting on the past. What went well? What went awry? What did you accomplish that you never thought you could? If you were to do 2022 all over again, what would you change? Let these reflections—your highs and lows—fuel your intentions for 2023. Write them down. Creating a list for your surprises and a list for your silver linings.

2. Focus on how you want to feel

We are often so hyper-focused on titles, salaries, projects, etc. that we neglect to think about how we want to feel in the new year. Do you want to feel empowered? Proud? Confident? Present? Get specific. Let your feelings dictate your goals. While this may seem counterintuitive, consider this: let’s say your goal is to get promoted in 2023. Come April, you achieve this. You’re now managing five people and have increased your salary by $20,000. Incredible, right? Not so fast. In some cases, it’s the job of a lifetime. In other cases, that promotion (responsibility) comes with stress, burn out, and a lack of balance. However, if your intentions are centered on finding happiness and fulfillment in your career, you’re on the right path.

3. get to the root of Your WHy

Similar to considering how you want to feel in the new year, you need to figure out your why. Ultimately, it will serve as your point of reference for your actions, habits, and decisions in 2023. As your guiding light, it will help you measure your progress and know when you’ve met your goals Do you want to live a long and healthy life—is that your why? Do you want stop chronic dieting and learn how to balance your blood sugar instead? Do you want to improve your hormone health to minimize your PCOS symptoms? Once you get clear on your why, the rest will follow suit.

4. Consider what brings you joY

The law of attraction states that by focusing on the things that bring you joy, you’ll bring more positive experiences into your life. Give it a try. Get out a notepad and write down the things that make you happy. What gives you purpose? What lights you up? Doing so will teach you a valuable lesson—to prioritize actions that the future you will be grateful for. No one looks back at their life and regrets spending time doing what’s fulfilling to them. If you know something won’t matter to you at the end of 2023, don’t focus on it throughout the year. This seems simple enough, but we often get caught up in friendships, work tasks, to-dos, etc. that don’t bring us joy. Make 2023 the year that you set boundaries around your happiness.

5. Create a Vision Board

A good visual never hurt anyone. Plus, creating it is often therapeutic. Make a board with clippings of words, phrases, and images that serves as a reminder of your intentions. Your vision board will keep you motivated. Tip: make sure to keep your vision board somewhere you can easily see it every day. Here’s how to make a vision board for the new year.

6. Come up with a mantra

Once you have your intention(s), come up with a short mantra incorporating some of the things you’ve written down. Instead of resolving to lose weight, what you can say is, ‘I intend to practice self care daily.’ Or, if you want to have $5,000 in your savings by the end of 2023, your mantra can be, ‘I will become more disciplined with my finances.’ Your mantra can even be just one word—like patience, loyalty, love, or openness.

7. Share Your intentions

Find someone important in your life who unconditionally supports you. Tell them about your intentions—because while intentions may make us more responsible for our actions, we’re all bound to have slip-ups. A friend or mentor can help get you back on track. Especially when you find yourself thinking negatively or are struggling to stay in the present. This person can also cheer you on as you celebrate your small wins.

desk keyboard_how to set realistic intentions for 2023

And with that, what are your 2023 intentions? Leave me a comment below.

Images courtesy of Unsplash.

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