New Year’s Reflections and Intentions

Person with brown curly hair, sitting on a couch. Holding a notepad in one hand, and holding a pen to their mouth in another.
A few prompts to reflect on the previous year and to set intentions for the next.

No resolutions for me

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. In my experience, they tend to be more of a socially approved way to set yourself up for guilt later in the year, than motivation for positive change.

Cynical? Perhaps. But I do have two sound, practical reasons for that. First, New Year’s resolutions are often framed as big picture goals. To take a couple of stereotypical examples, quitting smoking or losing weight. But those big picture goals don’t take into account why you haven’t made progress on them before.

There were reasons why you started smoking in the first place, and why you’re carrying more weight than you’d currently like, and without addressing those reasons, long-term, sustainable changes probably aren’t going to happen.

Second, those big picture goals feel overwhelming if you don’t break them down into small actionable steps, and in a state of overwhelm, the brain tends to default to a lack of (useful) action.

And by small steps, I mean tiny. Baby steps. Remember the story of the turtle and the hare? The turtle took lots of tiny, slow steps and reached his goal. It’s been proven over and over that this is the best way to achieve big goals and for that success to stick around long term.

So instead of resolutions, I prefer to spend a little time around the new year reflecting on how the small changes I made in the previous year have built up, and setting intentions for the next round of turtle steps.

So here are my New Year’s reflections and intentions this year. You’re welcome to join me. Comment below if you’d like to share.

Looking back on last year

What are three things that you really enjoyed last year?

What are three things that challenged you last year? 

What did you learn from each of those experiences?

What is something that you let go of, or released, that you feel better without? Ideas could include an item, an activity or task, a thought, belief, expectation, etc.

What are three things that you put effort into that went well last year?

In what way were you resilient in 2021?

Anything else?

Looking forward to next year

What are three things you are looking forward to next year?

What are three things that you anticipate will challenge you in this coming year?

For each of those, what is one thing that you can improve about that situation, even if it is a very small thing?

What else can you create that will improve those situations?

What is a relationship in your life you would like to improve this year?

What is something that needs to shift inside you for that relationship to improve?

Anything else?

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Heather Cook

Hi, I’m Heather. I’m an Autistic writer, advocate, and life coach, and I'm building a life I love. I help other Autistics to build their own autism-positive life. I love reading, jigsaw puzzles, just about every -ology, and Star Trek!

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