New Year Intentions vs. Resolutions

Special needs mom, Clinical and School Psychologist
12/29/22  5:00 AM PST

It’s 2023! We all have high hopes for the new year for our country, our world, our homes, our lives. We want a new year to bring new hope and intense change, perhaps even a return to “normal.” This is especially true since the pandemic began, but while much time has passed, our desire to return to March 2020 is unrealistic. We all have transformed and evolved during the last almost-three years. As the new year begins, I encourage us to begin to reflect on what the last year has brought to us and how we can take care of ourselves in the same way that we care for our children and the people around us.

The Burnout Is Real

As parents and caregivers, we are BURNED OUT. We have played multiple roles that we never thought we would take on. Many of us experience a high level of residual anxiety about our physical and emotional well-being.

You likely are burned out if you are feeling:

  • Tired even after waking up from sleep in the morning
  • Not being able to fall asleep
  • Not being able to maintain sleep
  • Feeling like you are running a parallel thought process about specific worries while living through your day
  • Seeking comfort in sugar, greasy food or alcohol/substances
  • Feeling like you are on the edge all the time
  • Feeling impatient
  • Feeling overwhelmed when other people share their worries or concerns, rather than sympathetic
  • Feeling agitated even without a specific trigger

Set Your Intentions

When setting resolutions, they’re usually around making changes to your physical body. I challenge you set intentions regarding how you will nurture your body, mind and soul.

  • Instead of “I want to lose 20 pounds,” set your intention to “I will be accepting of my body and to give it rest when it needs it.”
  • Instead of “I will eat cleaner or healthier,” set your intention to “I will feed my body nourishing foods that give my body energy and nutrition.”
  • Instead of “I will be more positive,” set your intention to “I will be accepting of my body shape and weight and will use kind words when speaking to myself.”
  • Instead of “I will be a better parent,” set your intention to “I will take a pause before I respond to my children and assess what my child is trying to tell me and try to respond accordingly.”

Shift your intentions from the outer world to the inner world of your body and mind where the true work really matters and makes the most lasting impact.

Set Realistic Goals for Your Daily Functioning

Many of us love to set goals that are unrealistic and unachievable. Even if we are able to hold onto them for the first month of the year, they are not sustainable for the long term and hence, why new year’s resolutions often have a bad reputation.

Set goals that are doable on a daily basis, such as:

  • I will set aside 5 mins each morning and/or each night to sit in silence with my thoughts to process the day
  • I will take a 20 minute walk 3 times per week
  • I will write in my journal (a physical notebook or google doc that you can access from your phone as well) 2 times per week for 5 minutes

Create actual blocks of time on your calendar with reminders for you to engage in the activities that you want to enact for yourself. Those are the blocks that are non-negotiable, unless there is an emergency, of course.  You may look at those blocks of time and think they are lofty times but when you shift your mindset to these are times that you will treat as if they were a doctor’s appointment, it will slowly become a part of your routine.  The more consistently you build in time for yourself, the more you will look forward to it and crave it, and you won’t want to use that time for “something else.”

Learn to set your needs first rather than setting your children’s needs or your significant other’s needs before your own. Make your cup of coffee first before you make lunches or take out the garbage. By doing this, you are giving yourself the respect and recognition that you have likely foregone for years, thus contributing to your sense of burnout.

Prioritize. So many of us create a to-do list of the day with more items than there are hours. This is not only unrealistic, but we set ourselves up for failure and frustration rather than focusing on what we were able to accomplish.  When creating your to-do list, I encourage you to set a list for the week, almost like a task “bucket”. Each day, create a daily list with a few items that you can get through given your schedule. Prioritize items that need to get done over the items such as “clean the linen closet.” Begin to separate out what you would like to do versus what needs to get done in the immediate future given a real deadline (e.g., signing up your child for a gymnastics class this week before the deadline).


As we enter into a new year, let’s set our intentions with a focus on our self-care, self-respect and our mental and emotional well-being.

Recent Caregivers

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *