Take a Breath Before Taking a Step

In the United States, we are encouraged to set goals and pursue them, make lists and complete them. Achievement-chasing is a key trait in American culture, and it’s especially apparent this time of year when the pressure is on to be better, do better, and achieve even more. However, a new year is also a perfect opportunity to slow down … breathe deep … then reflect, reset, and renew.


In his book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, spiritual teacher Echkart Tolle wrote, “Acknowledging the good that you already have in life is the foundation for all abundance.”1 In the cold, dark days of January, it can be easy to dwell on how life could be better or different somehow. Why not, instead, spend some time observing what’s good in your life right now? Just simply notice. 

What in your home, workplace, and community do you appreciate the most? What makes you content, brings you peace, or inspires happiness? It could be playing a game with a child, losing yourself in an engaging novel, laughing with a colleague at the water cooler, slurping a hot bowl of soup, or sharing a warm hug with a beloved person or pet. Whatever it is, take some time to reflect on it and feel the gratitude deeply, reveling in the knowledge that it’s already a wonderful part of your life.


With those positive images at the forefront of your mind, next begin to think about how to reset for the new year. In recent years, life coaches and others have encouraged a shift in focus from making resolutions to setting intentions. While a resolution is a narrow, specific objective such as losing weight or spending less money, an intention is a broader guiding principle used to influence daily decision-making. Examples include:

  • Exhibiting more optimism
  • Striving to live a healthier lifestyle
  • Strengthening relationships
  • Managing money according to values

Because intentions are less defined, they tend not to provoke feelings of failure when a specific goal isn’t reached. Action plans are still important, but intentions are more about the journey than the result. For example, there are many ways to live a healthier lifestyle, so if changing your diet isn’t something you want to do right now, you might start with an intention to move more on a daily basis, which might include walking the dog, taking a dance class, or playing tennis with a friend. 

Writing down a few intentions for 2023 is an ideal way to reset both mind and body, preparing yourself to receive more good things to come.


Finally, renew your commitment to building on what you already have. Continue reflecting on and doing all the things that bring you peace and joy now and use your intentions to build upon this foundation. Each year, this cycle of reflection, reset, and renewal will continue building upon itself to nurture greater and deeper feelings of abundance.

Cheers to new beginnings!

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Carol Swanson contributes to wellbeing blogs in the health and financial sectors. Carol can be reached at: [email protected] Carol also gets credit for this lovely image.