I used to make lists every December of the things I wanted in the coming year. They were usually pretty similar, year on year …..

1. Lose half a stone
2. Cut out sugar
3. Swim three times a week
2. Meet love of my life and settle down
3. Double last year’s income….

And so on……

How successful do you think I was? Not very. Yes, I did manage to cut out sugar for a week or so. I never met the love of my life….. and while my income went up a bit, it didn’t exactly double. And the swimming? Well, January is just too cold for swimming pools, don’t you think?

The other thing I noticed was that I wouldn’t feel very good about myself. In fact, I’d feel quite low, a bit self-doubting and thinking what’s the point – I can never do what I say I’m going to do. Pass the wine and what’s on the telly?

I’d found myself trusting myself a bit less and thinking I was hopeless at keeping my word with myself. And although I was pretty good at keeping my agreements with others I was really pretty dire at keeping them with myself.

Result? Lower self-esteem and self-trust and I didn’t even lose the half a stone.

So as I am someone who likes to learn and develop myself I read, I went to seminars and I thought I would experiment with a different approach.

I decided I would think about the kind of inner experiences I wanted in the coming year – how I wanted to feel. And I tried writing them down in December – so they were more of an intention rather than a tick this box. I saw there were lots of ways I could move towards the intentions.

For example, I decided a few years ago I needed much less stress in my life (my health was shouting loudly at me that I needed to do something). So my New Year’s intention was for more calm and relaxation. There were many ways I worked with that – more meditation, more massages, singing (super relaxing for me!), more breaks from work, walking…

On the health front, I still wanted to be thinner (surprise!) but I also wanted to judge my body less. So my intention became accepting and taking good care of my body. Again, lots of ways to work with that – I ate more veg, went to Pilates, used body lotion!

And the love of my life? Well, I really looked at what I really wanted. I wanted to have that sense of belonging, of loving and giving and receiving and having more fun with people.

So how did it go?

I had success with all of them!!!!! Not 100% because life is always a work in progress, but enough to make me feel like I was moving forward. And I love this intention thing – it really works for me.

None of this is to say I am anti-goal setting. I’ve had many times in my life where I have set goals and succeeded – like running a marathon with very little training, to facilitate seminars with Insight all around the world – a huge dream. The early stages of adulthood, when we are starting to make our way in the world is a prime time for goal-setting.

But to quote Anthony Robbins, Peak Performance Expert,

Goals are a means to an end, not the ultimate purpose of our lives. They are simply a tool to concentrate our focus and move us in a direction. The only reason we really pursue goals is to cause ourselves to expand and grow. Achieving goals by themselves will never make us happy in the long term; it’s who you become, as you overcome the obstacles necessary to achieve your goals, that can give you the deepest and most long-lasting sense of fulfilment.

So when you come to making that list, whether you want to set goals or want to experiment with setting some intentions, I invite you to join the workshop “Create Your Best Year Yet!”, which I will lead on 8 January at the Columbia Hotel, London.

Follow this link to register and learn more about the workshop.


Ginny Fraser is an executive coach and facilitator. She has been facilitating around the world with Insight Seminars since 1995, from Brazil to Siberia. She is a published author and also counsels people with cancer on how to heal naturally (based on her own experience). She’s a passionate Bruce Springsteen fan and is still mourning the loss of her other all-time hero, Leonard Cohen.

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