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Set New Year’s Intentions, Not Resolutions

Posted by: Katharine Bierce
Posted: March 22, 2021
Categories: Professional Development, Lifestyle & Wellness, Civic Engagement, IndyHub

Have you ever been on a meditation retreat or a vacation, and a few days before it’s over, you find yourself planning your return to work? Then, when you get home, are you just going back to your usual habits and not actually implementing anything you learned from taking time to reflect?

That’s why I want to share some ideas around setting intentions for New Year’s. As I discuss in, intentions are different from goals. A goal is something you do or don’t do. Intentions are an ongoing practice. You’re never done being kind to yourself or others, being generous, patient, equanimous, or compassionate.

This New Year’s, reflect on intentions, rather than setting resolutions.

With vaccines coming and hopefully some form of “end in sight,” now is a good time to set your intentions for what you want to take forward from this experience.

What positive things have you done differently that you want to keep doing?

Here are some intentions for the #NextNormal:

Spend time with people with shared values and truly connect.

Spend less time checking Facebook and more time on phone calls, Zoom calls, and in the community that matters to you. In 2020, I spent more time connecting with my meditation group online where people are focused on actively supporting each other in our journey of mindfulness. Interacting with people with shared values advanced my meditation practice further. As the African proverb goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” 

Explore nature.

Nature helps release digital fatigue. Outdoor activities like camping and hiking help me unplug and get re-energized. Check out these two nature apps: HipCamp, an app that helps you find camping spots and AllTrails, an app that helps you find hiking trails. 

Microstep: Take a 10-minute nature break during your workday — go for a quick walk or just breathe in the outdoor air.

Be mindful of how you use your energy and resources.

Learn the art of politely saying, “No”. Leadership strategist and author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown says it best, “If it’s not a HELL YES!!!, it’s a No.” Time spent at home during the pandemic showed me the value of using my energy wisely — I spent more time on things that mattered most to me like meditation and yoga, and less at bars, restaurants, and conferences. I also spent more time in one-on-one chats having deeper conversations and less time on generic networking events. Better quality interactions, rather than just more interactions, was surprisingly rewarding. 

Microstep: Every morning ask yourself, “What do I need to focus on today?”

Let go of negativity and focus on the positive.

Due to the stress of the pandemic, I knew that to function at a high level at work and be a resource for others, I had to prioritize my wellbeing. It’s important to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help others. I cut my news consumption by turning off news apps on my phone (check out this Center for Humane Technology article for tips) and I’m doing my best to avoid speaking negatively about other people (try that for a day — it’s hard!). I’ve learned that when I let go of negativity, it’s easier to be in a creative mindset and innovate. 

Microstep: Set clear bounded blocks of time without social media or news.


Appreciate what you have (“you only live once”) and let go of all the things you could or should be doing (“fear of missing out). Worrying about not being able to get to three networking events in an evening or how to optimize my schedule for doing more, more, more… I realized I didn’t need that. When there’s no FOMO, what is there? Acceptance, equanimity, and clarity. 

Microstep: Make a list of your priorities and go back to it every time you start to feel FOMO creeping over you. Check out 6 Quick and Easy Tips to Tackle FOMO for more microsteps from Thrive Global.

Practice gratitude daily.

Gratitude is good for your health. Research from UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center suggests that grateful people may have better sleep, healthier hearts, and fewer aches and pains. No wonder we start so many of our presentations with a “Thank You” slide. 

Microstep: Start a gratitude journal and write down a few things each day that you are grateful for.

Keep up your existing healthy habits!

Continue your existing wellbeing practices.

What are you already doing that’s helpful to you? Pre-pandemic, I was meditating an average of about 30 minutes a day. Then, shelter-in-place started and I began meditating 1.5 – 2 hours a day (in the morning and evening). I decided to repurpose my time normally spent commuting and double down on my wellbeing. 

Microstep: Make a list of things to do that help you feel good and support your wellbeing and use it to create a daily self-care routine of practices that work for you.

To set your intentions for the new year, consider: what are your values? Get started by selecting a list of your top 20 values, then winnow them down to 10, and then five. Check out the book Resonant Leadership for easy exercises to help you get clear about your values.


Katharine Bierce manages the Salesforce.org blog and helps create research-based content at Salesforce.org. She is a lifetime member of Net Impact, a StartingBloc fellow, and has volunteered with TechSoup to produce “tech for good” events and content with the SFTech4Good Meetup (a NetSquared community) from 2014-2018. A self-described “full-stack human,” she is an avid meditator and yogi. When she’s not managing marketing content, you can find her teaching or taking yoga classes around the San Francisco bay area. Katharine graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Chicago with a degree in Psychology, and holds PMP and CSM certifications. Her favorite Sustainable Development Goal is #3: Good Health and Well-Being. Follow her on Twitter: @kbierce

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