Setting Intentions for the New Year

December 20, 2017

Amy Fortney Parks, PhD – Practice Owner: Welcome to the close of another year, and the opening of a brand new year. We are so privileged at The Wise Family to have such amazing clinicians who draw both from personal experience, and scientific research to support their insights into setting intentions for the new year! Enjoy their thoughts below, and don’t forget that the holiday season is also an opportunity for magic to happen – invite magic to happen in your life, and in your family this season!


Amanda Beyland, LCSW – Therapist for The Wise Family: As another year comes to an end, it is the time that everyone begins to reflect on their year: the good, the bad, and even the ugly. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in all of the things that need improvement, so make sure to also highlight the positives changes that took place throughout the year. When we think about the progress we have made, we are acknowledging the areas we had success in!

When it comes to making resolutions as a family, everyone needs to have a say. Families can get together to talk about, and reflect on the past year in order to start making their resolutions. Each family member can share something they are proud of and something they may want to improve upon. Some of the younger members in the family might have a hard time with this so it’s okay to help them! Think about the things that your children can do now that maybe they couldn’t have done earlier in the year; reading a chapter book, riding a bike with no training wheels, or learning a new sport or instrument. We’re not looking to point out flaws, just places where there is room for improvement. Make sure the goals for the upcoming year are doable, and remember, change doesn’t happen over night!

Dominique AdkinsEdD – Therapist for The Wise Family: With the New Year fast approaching, we have the opportunity to look back at the past year and look toward the new one. This mindful reflection helps us to align with our purpose and integrate the successes and lessons of last year into our intentions for the new one. After reflecting on your intention, write down each intention in a prominent location so the intention will be set deep within your mind and heart. Then discuss your intentions with your family and cultivate a family intention. During your upcoming holiday celebrations set aside time to discuss your intentions for the New Year. Be sure to continue to communicate with your family as a way to support and hold each other accountable. Finally, take time to meditate and check in with these intentions throughout the year. Always remember to be encouraged and that any moment can be a fresh start to your life!

Kasey CainResident in Counseling – Therapist for The Wise Family:  New Year’s is the time when many people reflect on their past year and plan for their hopes and dreams for the upcoming year. This often comes in the form of a resolution. Whenever I have friends, family, or clients that reflect on past goals that were challenging for them, I talk about two different things:

  1. It takes 66 days (more than 2 months) for a new behavior to become automatic, and
  2. Think “W.O.O.P.”! I am referring to Dr. Gabriele Oettingen’s process that has been shown to reduce stress and support people in achieving their goals. W.O.O.P. stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan. It is a quick, evidence-based practice that can help you and your family reach whatever goal you are trying to set.

To the first point – this number comes from a study done at Univeristy College London published in the European Journal or Social Psychology. I find it helpful, because so often, if families try to begin a new routine such as weekly dinner or daily story time, they quickly become frustrated if their goal has not been met by February. Knowing the 66 days allows families to set appropriate expectations.

Change takes time. Expecting perfection in whatever family goal you set is unrealistic. Welcome the belief that the journey is the destination. In working towards a family goal, you are learning together. Family traditions and practices are often passed down from one generation to the next. If you begin something and it sticks, most likely it will stay for years to come. Happy New Year!

Lynlee Tanner Stapleton, PhD – Evaluator for The Wise Family: The new year usually brings to mind renewed commitments and resolutions on how to improve on challenges and shortcomings. But don’t let your end-of-year review end so soon! As you take time to reflect on the past year, make space for gratitude and forgiveness. Numerous research studies show how cultivating gratitude can have a host of positive effects, from improving your mood and sleep, to reducing stress and physical complaints, to enhancing and expanding your relationships. Letting go of resentments and practicing kindness toward others (and yourself!) for past transgressions also brings a wave of physical, psychological and social benefits.

It may be tempting to focus your energy on all the things you want to “fix” or the big changes in store for the new year, especially in our “work hard, do more, reach higher” world. But turning your attention to the successes and blessings that surround you can be a powerful antidote to the stress that this mentality can create — and maybe even help reap many of the same desired benefits in a more satisfying and sustainable way! It’s also a great way to set a kind and compassionate example for your family during this season of giving.


Until Next Year, Be Wise!