Reflections to Resolutions: Beyond sounding nice

This is part two of a two-part series on creating your intention for the next year.  Check out part one here: Year in Review.

We left off having identified your highlights from 2015 and dug into the tricky questions of how you’ve shown up in the world, as well as a list of the things you want to start, stop, and keep doing for 2016.

You may have seen a lot of posts about “16 for 2016” (I even created my own list) – but I realized creating this list out of thin air wasn’t to my advantage.  The foundation of that list is not as strong because I wasn’t thinking as much about the deeper purpose behind it all. So before you create your own list, let’s use your highlights and your lessons as the base.

Looking over my reflections and my highlights from yesterday, I notice a few trends:

  • The moments where I didn’t show up like I wanted with other people (frenetic energy from being stressed, not being present, taking shortcuts with friends, etc) seems to be rooted in having too many commitments, too many tabs open.
  • I took a lot of pride in things I accomplished this year that have taken me many hours of practice (teaching, lettering)
  • I noted a lot of experiences (traveling, when I’ve tried something new)
  • I am very present in my work and want that feeling in more places more often.
  • Things I DIDN’T list – meeting our financial goals, anything specifically related to fitness or diet. Unsure why they weren’t listed, or didn’t come to mind.

Using these reflections I can create a list of the things that I want more or less of in 2016:


So these things are the things that can GROUND my intentions for 2016. They are founded in the lessons I’ve learned over the last year and where I want to build from in 2016. Now, don’t they just sound nice?

They also sound like things I’ve seen students write in papers, to which I always comment, “This sounds lovely! What does this look like? What are specific ways this shows up in your life?” As you’ve likely heard, countless studies around goal-setting show us that the more specific about a goal we are, the more likely we are to follow through. The vague phrases sound awesome on motivational posters, but don’t convince me of action.

So I have to keep drilling down, what are the specific ways that I can be present to the people around me? You know you are specific enough when you could write the behavior in a script and an actor could run with it.  Some ideas I’m thinking of are, “Keeping my phone in my purse when talking with others,” or “Ask for 5 minutes to wrap up tasks before starting a conversation” or “rapid-log my thoughts so I can pay attention to others.”

How about practicing my crafts of teaching and lettering? That is a great overall goal, so how does that break down into a trackable, weekly habit? Perhaps it will be, “participate in the #HandletteredABCs challenge to practice my strokes,” or “Spend 10 minutes a day 5 days a week honing in on a pen” or “take a class on calligraphy”.?

I’ve often fallen into the trap of setting vague goals.  I can try to go to the gym “more,” or be “more present,” or “check my phone less.” But in reality, I am copping out. I am making it okay to fall short of a fuzzy bar by sabotaging my efforts from the beginning.

Okay okay we’ve heard all that rigamarole before. Let’s DO something with it.

Perhaps your goal is to lose 10 pounds this year. Knowing where you want to be by December, identify the milestones you need to hit to stay on track – perhaps that means losing 5 pounds by July.  If you have a future log, add these check-points to your planner! Next, identify the weekly habits you need to develop to attain that progress or goal. As I’ve mentioned, this could be getting a certain number of steps a day, going to the gym 3 times a week, etc.  These are your key habits to focus on.

Using those answers, incorporate them into your planner. If you are into habit tracking, add these things to your tracker and focus on them.  You COULD have a list of 20 habits, but make sure your focus is on the key behaviors that will get you to this particular resolution or goal.  Everything else is secondary and is a bonus.

It’s up to you whether to focus on them monthly, weekly, or daily.  The things I want to prioritize, I find ways to incorporate every day – getting at least 2 glasses of water, noticing how leadership shows up, gratitude.  Other important things I’ll add to a weekly habit tracker.  The key is to make it easy for you to keep up with it. If you start small, you can nail these habits first before adding the others.

Now you have developed a set of habits or tools that are based off of your deeper purpose – the real reasons why you want to do something, not just to fill a tracker. These are the things that will MATTER to you and your goals, and now you know that these baby steps every day, every week, will take you closer to the goals you have.

Because making it painfully specific takes this from the “lovely-sounding bullshit” to “actionable concrete endeavor.”

I’ll report back when I’ve got my habits down! What are some of the things you’ll be focusing on? I’d love to hear in the comments!



8 thoughts on “Reflections to Resolutions: Beyond sounding nice

  1. Love this! I will be focusing a lot in monetizing my home life and making more out of living through travel and learning this year. Dutch and art are big on my lists of learning(more) and I will be focusing on getting a few coloring pages done each week so I can release it as soon as possible. Also will be working on redesigning my blog site:)


      1. I have no idea really lol I am fluent in French and I had a friend in highschool that was from South Africa and he spoke Dutch but other than that I guess it’s just the next on my list…. Then maybe German next🙂


  2. I was in the middle of setting goals and this made me realize how foundational habits will be🙂

    For me, I’m already clear with the Big Goals I have (wrote them all down here: but now I’m trying to realign the habits I’m putting in my BuJo tracker. Thank you so much for sharing!


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