Saying NO to New Year’s Resolutions?

Did you spill your drink when you read the title of this post?  Did you assume you read it incorrectly? Did you think, “But Kailea, you love setting goals and making resolutions!” That’s true, I do.

Here’s the thing… I think I have a tendency to be too aggressive with myself, and set goals from a mindset of “you need to improve in this area,” (in other words, “you are not enough”). I typically stress myself out with self-inflicted pressure and militant accountability standards, or I lose steam with my resolutions after a few weeks, leading to feelings of failure and shame.  And even though I am a true lover of feelings, “failure” and “shame” are my very least favorite ones.

That said, I still think the start of a new year is a great time for reflecting, goal-setting, and deliberate planning. So, I’ve simply changed my approach when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions. It feels gentler, as if I have thrown out the rules and redefined them in ways that work for me.


I discovered Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map program (thankfully, before I had a nervous breakdown), and it helped me look at New Year’s Resolutions in a new way.  I started asking myself, “How do I want to feel this year?” My words for 2015 were “spacious, anchored, delicate, and wild.”  I then set goals that would bring me toward those guiding words.

At the end of last year, I dedicated a whole evening to finding my guiding words for 2015.  I put on comfortable clothes, sat in front of the fireplace, lit some candles, and made some tea (isn’t that a cozy sentence?).  I looked through Danielle LaPorte’s “Feelings Library” (available here) and shortlisted words that stood out to me.  I even looked up the words in the dictionary and checked out their synonyms.  This helped me get REALLY specific and identify 1-5 words that precisely captured how I wanted to feel in 2015. 

Once I had my words, I thought about things I could do to help me feel MORE that way.  I identified 4 “life categories” (for example: career, fitness, travel, health, adventure, creativity, relationships, learning, etc.) and set 1-3 goals per category that connected to my guiding words.  I phrased my goals using defined and measurable language (for example, to feel more “anchored” this past year, my goal was to “host friends at my place at least once a month,” which was more specific than just saying “host more often”).


I wrote my guiding words on a piece of paper and placed it on my desk, so I would see them everyday.  Using this Planner (designed to support goal-setting!), I wrote out my full list of goals, and chose 1 to tackle right away.  I broke the goal down and figured out a micro action I could take within the next week.  I then wrote the action in my Planner to help me remember. Each Sunday, I thought about my upcoming week and prioritized a few deliberate actions I could take to help me feel the way I wanted to feel. The messages inside my head while doing this felt gentler and more loving than older messages such as, “You better achieve that goal you set, or else!”

I found I was significantly more motivated to stay on track with my goals because the why was clear; I felt grounded by my guiding words.  It was easier to prioritize and make decisions because I asked myself, “Will this help me feel more spacious, anchored, delicate or wild?”  I am still in the process of defining my words for 2016, and I’ll share them once I get there.

Changing the question was subtle, yet liberating.

❤ Kailea

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