The Root of New Year’s Resolutions: What Do You Actually Want?

If you’re a “doer,” a high achiever, an accomplishment addict, a New Year’s resolution nailer (hello, 3/4 of NYC) — good for you! The ability to get sh*t done is a powerful tool. That said, resolutions and goals can at times feel repetitive or empty. Maybe you do things more for your job or other people than for you. Sometimes we’re not even sure what to shoot for personally because we’re not clear on who we are, what we truly want, or what we value — or we forgot. Triple whammy! And not much fun.

For inspired resolutions you need to have intention and before intention you need to know what you want.

Today’s writing offers several exercises that can help you tap into your deeper wishes. Two guidelines are key:

  1. When you do them, make sure you set aside the part of you that tends to question, edit, censor, or critique. Do you have a “not enough” or “that’s not practical” voice? Feel free to show it the door. A great way to do it is to list ALL of the beliefs telling you you can’t have it, don’t deserve it, or it’s too risky — and decide what you want to believe instead. Assume you can have what you want and that you’re worthy. Our thoughts are powerful.

Expanding your limits

What would be/feel amazing to you? What if there were no consequences? What if you were limitless? Close your eyes and picture what could be true. Daydream on purpose. You can capture your thoughts through writing (physically write it down versus typing it), images, or audio.

How do you want to feel

What is the feeling or experience you want more of, or to experience for the first time? If you can remember, what does it feel like, when was the last time you felt it, or something close to? If you’re clear on its opposite, what would feel different? What would need to shift this year to get you there? What could you create to generate it by the bucketload?

What values do you want to live by

Many people have a word that’s a theme for the year. Select up to 3 values that feel meaty and meaningful. What would a life aligned with those values look like? What would be present, what would you create or want to experience?

Who do you want to be

Finally for one of my personal favorites, who’s the person you know on some level you are already, who you want to see more of this year? What’s s/he like? What does she do? What does she want? What does she fight for, for herself or for others? What’s her legacy? You can also “look back” on your life from your future self 20 years from now. If you need help to see her/him, I recommend Tara Mohr’s inner mentor visualization or you can identify people you admire and the common qualities they represent for you. We often gravitate to those who reflect something true in us.

These are thought starters, sketches versus fully fleshed out visions. If you’re struggling with clarity, the fastest way I know to get it is to speak to someone like a coach who you can explore with in a safe space removing any blocks. You can also do more than one visioning exercise, or do them more than once. And be patient with yourself… it’s important to bring a sense of grace and allowance. Forcing it will only muddy the waters — remember you are treating you.

Once you paint a clear picture of a future that would be self-aligned or parts of that future, it’s time to move into the stages of intention and committed action, AKA resolve. I’m purposefully leaving these out, because in my experience fears and judgments around the “how” tend to muddy the “what.” Do it in two stages. Don’t sell yourself short. Be passionate before you get practical.

I believe in you 🙂 and… I triple dog dare you to.

Happy dreaming! ✨🔥🌈❤️



Psychologist, success coach, believer in solid behavioral science and the power of tuning in.

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Casey Onder, PhD

Psychologist, success coach, believer in solid behavioral science and the power of tuning in.