By on December 27, 2010

How many times have you started off the new year with high hopes and a long list of lofty resolutions only to end up frustrated by the end of the first quarter (if not sooner!) to see that many, if not all, of your New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside? If you wish to break this pattern without giving up hope of finishing 2011 better than you started it, try the following:


1. Don’t make resolutions!

At least not in the traditional way. Most people’s New Year resolutions look like an overwhelming laundry list of “to dos” that would require herculean willpower (not to mention an extra forty-hour work week) to implement. The energy required to implement so many changes simultaneously simply cannot be sustained.  So what does work?


2. Express gratitude.

I always start my New Year off by cataloguing in writing all that I am grateful for from the past year. Very often the things I am most grateful for were not things that I had planned to do. Whether a new friend, an unanticipated business opportunity, or  a challenge overcome, this awareness that life has a way of working out helps me chill out, be more trusting, and be more willing to risk following my heart. This exercise also tends to make people aware that the simple joys of living, such as friends, family, health and, in your case, the daily joys of living in Japan, provide perspective on what really makes life worth living for you.


3. Identify your intentions.

The next step is to go through the different areas of your life and identify intentions for the changes you would like to see by the end of 2011. Avoid listing anything because you think you “should” or “have to” make a change in that area.  It is far easier to sustain the energy to follow through on change if it is in alignment with who you truly are and want to be. You can set intentions in many categories including the spiritual, relationship, creative, business, financial or career areas of your life. To set your intentions, ask which areas of your  life, if you made even slight changes, would have the most positive impact on your overall wellbeing? Describe specifically how you would like things to look when the change is made rather than making a to-do list of how you are going to create that change.


4. Pick a theme.

The above might not sound so different than the typical goal-setting method, but the real power comes from this last step. Look back over all of your intentions to find an overall theme for the positive changes you want to see in your life and work this year. In my case, the thread that I saw running through my intentions for 2011 is “maximizing freedom”.  We are hoping to have a second child and our business and personal intentions center around building the  infrastructure to deliver our products and services in a way that is less dependent on us having face time with our clients.  I do have specific goals but if I think about them all at once they  become  overwhelming. By focusing on my core theme, I can keep this at top of mind on a daily basis and use it to guide all of my actions and decisions. No matter how busy or stressed I am, I can usually manage to hold one theme in my head. To make it even easier, form your theme into a question. My question this year is: “Which choices will maximize my freedom  to grow my family?” Focusing on one theme, rather than a long list of goals, will reduce stress, increase your openness to opportunities and ultimately give you much more success in creating the results you truly desire. 


Andrea Jacques, founder of Kyosei Consulting International, has spent more than 20 years developing the potential of individuals and organizations worldwide. Five of these years were spent in Japan where the core philosophies of her work on the relationship between passion, performance, and profits took shape.  A dynamic speaker, coach, and facilitator, her work integrates leading eastern and western thought with top-tier leadership, engagement, wellness and sustainability consulting to build the capacity of people and business to thrive. Her clients represent a diverse cross-section of industries including banking, retail, government, insurance, academia and high-tech. She can be contacted through her website at

About Andrea Jacques

Andrea Jacques is the founder of Kyosei Consulting and the author of Wabi-Sabi Wisdom: Inspiration for an Authentic Life (available on She has spent more than 20 years developing the potential of people and businesses worldwide, five of which were in Japan. A dynamic speaker, coach, and facilitator, her work integrates spiritual insight with top-tier leadership, wellness and sustainability consulting to help individuals and organizations build thriving, purpose-driven cultures where employees know their work truly matters. She can be contacted through her website at