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I’m sharing my Intentions for 2018 today!

New Year's resolutions you'll actually keep! How to make AND KEEP your intentions for a better new year, written by wholesome recipe food blogger Erin Clarke of Well Plated by Erin

Every January, I take a great big gulp of ambition juice. My blood flows with enthusiasm, hope, and a burst of energy that could rival Sunny D in the neon color/sugar department.

I pull out a clean pad of paper, a fancy felt-tip pen (the purchase of which I justified by assuring myself I’d be more likely to complete any tasks that were written in its lovely, smooth ink), and write down my New Year’s resolutions.

While my resolutions change from year to year, they usually look something like this:

  • Do yoga.
  • Take a French class.
  • Learn to salsa.
  • Read the classic novels I missed in high school.
  • Call home every week.
  • Go to bed at 9 p.m.
  • Write snail mail.
  • Save the planet.

All are honorable goals. My completion rate?

Somewhere in the neighborhood of “zero” to “Does wearing yoga pants count as the same thing as doing yoga?”

Maybe you’ve run into similar issues.

Ideas for New Year's Resolutions and Intentions and How to Keep Them

The reoccurring problem with my past resolutions lists is that every single item on them is related to DOING. I am asking myself to magically squeeze more activities into the same 24 hours, without taking anything away.

I tell myself I will cut back on “other things,” but I never really define what those things are. Inevitably, I stretch myself too thin, and at one point or another, I fall short.

This year, I decided to take a different approach to my New Year’s resolutions.

I’m not writing them.

I’m writing down my intentions instead.

The difference between a resolution and an intention might seem frivolous at first glance, but when you look more closely, far more separates them than simply an entry in a thesaurus.

Resolutions are stiff.

  • Resolutions are boxes to be checked, with only one method for doing so.
  • Resolutions look like a to-do list. You either complete a resolution or you don’t.
  • Resolutions are focused on doing.

Intentions are flexible. 

  • Intentions represent my hopes, values, and who I want to be a year from now.
  • Intentions look like a map with many paths that lead to the goal destination.
  • Intentions are focused on my being.

I decided to keep my intentions list to my top four intentions.

How to set New Year's Resolutions you will actually keep, plus a list of attainable goals and actions for a better new year

Yes, FOUR.

I know Top 10 sounds cool and Top 5 at least sounds reasonable, but for the sake of being super seriously focused and dedicated, I decided to stick with just the four most important.

Instead of writing my intentions as a stiff list of to-dos (that approach reminds me of the failed resolutions of prior years), I wrote them as the values and characteristics—the being—that I want to characterize my year.

To make my intentions tangible, below each I wrote out a variety of actions I can take to bring them to life. Some actions might work, while others might not. The beauty of this more flexible approach is that if and when I fall short on one action, that does not mean that I will miss the boat on completing the intention entirely. Rather, it means I need to try a different approach next time.

2018 Intention Number One: Be Present.

Lake Sunset

Ways I Plan to Be Present:

  • Put my phone away during dinner, including dinner at home with Ben.
  • Ask follow-up questions during conversations with friends instead of jumping right in with my own thoughts and opinions (extrovert problems).
  • Respond to text messages in hours instead of days. (I am really the worst with texts. SORRY.)
  • Spend 10 minutes in quiet reflection each morning.
    • I use a guided meditation app called Headspace (LOVE IT and cannot recommend it enough), and I find that when I use it daily, I am more present, focused, and less prone to anxious or worried thoughts all day long.
  • Call friends or family while washing dishes instead of defaulting to turning on the TV.

2018 Intention Number Two: Be Grateful.

Easy ways to practice gratitude

Ways I Plan to Be Grateful:

  • Tell someone I love them at least once per day.
  • Focus on how lucky I am to have a warm home, coat, and sturdy boots instead of how cold it is outside.
  • Pause to say grace or at least offer up a mental “thank you!” before all meals, including breakfast.
  • Start my daily reflection (see “Be Present” above) by expressing gratitude for a new day.
  • Tell Ben thank you for even routine household tasks, such as taking out the garbage.
  • Leave three negative things a day unsaid.
  • Every time I go to the gym or for a run outside, remember how lucky I am to have a strong body instead of what a drag working out can be.
  • Surprise neighbors and friends with dinner or treats even more often as a way to express gratitude for their presence in my life.
  • Leave a thank-you note for the mail carrier.
  • Send an email or even a Facebook message to a former teacher who made a positive impact in my life.
  • Think of one blessing every time I hit a red light.
  • Continue writing my Thankfulness List every Thanksgiving.
  • Leave 5-star reviews for products I enjoy, whether it’s something I ordered from Amazon or a podcast to which I love listening.
  • Donate to causes I believe in more often.

2018 Intention Number Three: Be Rested.

Ways to Get More Sleep - Perfect New Year's Resolution Idea

Ways I Plan to Be Rested:

  • No more computer after 10 p.m. Believe it or not, this is probably one of the most challenging actions on the list. I always want to squeeze in just one more thing before bed.
  • Related: Be IN bed by 10:30.
  • No coffee after 12 p.m. I usually have a small cup for an afternoon pick-me-up, which I am now swapping for tea. So far, so good!
  • Do not look at my phone once I get into bed.
  • Invest in a decent pillow. Any recommendations?
  • Keep a notebook by my bed to quickly jot down any nagging to-dos (or recipe inspiration) that enter my brain and keep me awake.
  • Kill the snooze—research is pretty compelling that it’s a) not helpful and b) can make you more tired.
  • Try apps like this one (free!) that track your sleep and are designed to wake you up when you are in a lighter stage of sleep.
  • Rock a sleeping mask (the one I should order based on reviews; the one I actually want to order; the one that encapsulates all feelings right now).

2018 Intention Number Four: Be Inspired.

Easy ways to be inspired. Tips for finding inspiration and creativity, plus a list of new year's resolutions and intentions

Ways I Plan to Be Inspired:

  • Spend at least one full afternoon each weekend not doing any kind of work, including responding to emails.
  • Cook from my actual cookbooks! Goal: one recipe per month.
  • Take more personal vacation days. I enjoy traveling for work but would love to take more days to completely unplug, phone and email included.
  • Related: Plan above vacation and COMMIT.
  • Find inspiring Instagram accounts to follow, especially in the non-food realm. Any favorites?
  • Regularly change out my computer and phone screensavers and desktops to art or quotes that inspire me. Designlovefest is one of my favorite resources for free graphics.
  • Spend less time obsessing over past actions I cannot change.
  • Eat at more new restaurants instead of continually revisiting the same favorites.
  • Ask people I admire, including and especially friends and members of my family, what inspires THEM.
  • The next time I’m tempted by envy, think about why I admire that person and remember ways that I either am or can be more like them.
  • Listen to podcasts on interesting topics when I’m in the kitchen or driving.
  • Sing in the shower, my car, anywhere, without worrying about who is listening. Seriously. Let loose!


  • Does thinking of your 2018 goals as intentions instead of resolutions resonate with you the way it did with me?
  • Am I crazy and this is a glorified list of resolutions with some extra frosting?
  • What’s on your list of intentions for 2018?

Here’s to a happy, inspired, intentional 2018!

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

Learn more about Erin

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  1. This is a great list! I love that’s it’s very doable and not in a pressured way. Probably the most relevant way to describe it is TIME…just take it to do the simple things. I’m guessing that the contentment part of the process will far outweigh anything else. By that I mean that everyone involved will feel better just being part of the act of gratefulness. This seems to be what the entire thing boils down to: assuming that the old adage of “it’s better to give than to receive” is true, in this way of giving, everyone also receives. I’m grateful every single day for my great life and the people in it – your list just reminds me to always take the time to make sure I do the simple things.

  2. Yes, I think the word INTENTIONS gives you a goal but will not ever leave you feeling guilty if you by-pass that idea/desire.
    I’ve just been wondering why I never see you wearing “plaid” ???? You have mentioned that you love to wear it. !!!!

    1. Hi Mary Jo! Funny you should mention that because I actually wear plaid ALL THE TIME. (The number of plaid shirts I have is a running joke among friends—I even wore plaid on Christmas as well as in this recent video). That said, I don’t wear ONLY plaid, so I just don’t happen to have plaid shirts in a few of my recent posts. :)


  4. I LOVE this, Erin!! I was nodding “yes” throughout your post. I just downloaded Headspace and cannot wait to begin using it. I keep telling myself that I am not going to check social media in the morning, but I find myself late every day because of scrolling my feeds. So I need to start fresh today and make tiny changes. Focus on me and my well-being. I love your approach to using intentions instead of resolutions. A lot of bloggers who I respect have shifted to this practice, and it feels so positive.

  5. I love your intentions and a good pillow? Try the nest in North Carolina they have great pillows, and are organic.

  6. I love it. Your intentions inspire me as do your recipes. I make several of your recipes a week for myself and family, I have been eating the slow cooker banana oatmeal this week and it has totally sustained me on my morning workouts. Thank you for all of your hard work on your blog. I would like to borrow  one of your intentions and throw it back at you…five stars!

  7. Ha! Great minds think alike, Erin!! Here’s to staying true to our intentions, happy new year!

  8. Love love love this post! I write down intentions for each season and I will definitely incorporate some of these great ideas into mine!

    I also want to recommend this pillow!

  9. I love your “resolution” to have intentions rather than resolutions (I definitely never keep my “exercise regularly” resolution.) As for the pillow, I love this one:
    If you wash the cover monthly, it puffs back up nicely. I love the balance of the plush cover with the memory foam core, and the shape (perfect for side-sleeping).

  10. I love this list! I write resolutions as a to-do list. It has worked OK and I am crazy and try to get it all done as fast as I can. But then I run into the problem of having met my “goals” in the middle of the year. Which is great, but also leaves me flailing the rest of the year. I like the idea of setting intentions better. This is something I can practice all year long. Not to say I shouldn’t still make to-do lists, but maybe keep those more for week-to-week.
    I’ve got to check out Headspace. That is an area I am really lacking! So many things on your list that I’d like to implement myself :-)

    1. Danielle, I don’t think resolutions need a hard deadline of Dec. 31st! I love how on top of it you are. I hope you love Headspace too. It’s made such a positive difference for me!

  11. Wow! I really enjoyed your list!  It is so thought out. There’s so much about thinking, caring for, and be thankful for others! It really touched me. I can tell you are set for a great year!

  12. Loveeee this!!! Also, can you PLEASE transfer that 9pm bedtime onto me?! That’s definitely my biggest issue – I struggle to go to bed early! Although trying tonight :). I also use Headspace and love it. By the way, one thing that really helps me with gratitude is journalling three things that I am grateful for, that don’t cost money/ that you can’t buy. That really really helps me to put my blessings in perspective. <3 My intentions are to focus on 1) self-love (proper self, nourishment, and continue to surround myself with love), 2) be kind to myself and others, and 3) be DARING, to be courageous, to stand up and to stand out. 

    1. Thank you SO Much for sharing this Jessica! I love all of your intentions and your tip about gratitude. Truly this means so much. Here’s to a very Happy New Year! xo

  13. I love these intentions! I did something similar and will be adding some of your ideas to mine. Please post your pillow decision! I’m very interested! 

  14. Love LOVE the statement “Spend less time obsessing over actions I cannot change.” I’m totally using this!

    Gratefulness was a big one for me in 2017 and will continue into this year because you can never have too much of it. I’m also focusing on being present which includes spending less time on social media and investing that time in reading, podcasts, conversation, etc. Others are get strong (vs “lose weight”) and pass less judgment on others since you never know what someone else is going through!

  15. I was just telling a coworker about my New Year’s intentions (thank you Erin!) when she asked me about my New Year’s resolutions. I also put in a plug for your blog :) Like another reader, I too went and downloaded Headspace and started meditation yesterday. I aspire to leave negative comments unsaid, be more grateful and present in every day life. I will probably leave this post open on my computer for my weeks to come as a reminder to myself of what I intend to do with my year/life. :) Thanks again!

    1. Kara, thank you so much! I’m thrilled to hear the post was meaningful for you. Best of luck with your intentions this year!

  16. Erin I have been loving your site, and trying your recipes! Thank you! This list of intentions is wonderful! Thank you for sharing it.

  17. Great idea! Love you new take on focusing for the new year, yet making it realistic . You are a great inspiration . Enjoy your creativity. Best wishes to you for continued success! 

  18. This is exactly what I nerder, thank you so much! I’ve been stressing myself with things to do…all the time..? This showed me a new way of thinking. Will indeed leave this post open for å while!

  19. It seems like your goals are written under each resolution. Goals can also be written flexibly, for example, I’ll call home 2-4x per week. My exercise goal is to maintain my exercise amount, 144 hours/ yr.  For me this is flexible because if something comes up and gets in the way of exercise, I can make it up another time. 

  20. I just want to say I am very new to blogs and honestly liked this website. Almost certainly I’m going to bookmark your website.

  21. I haven’t found the recipe for steel oats over night.

    I like the over night soaking. ect

    would like to know how much to use for 5 days.

    for two people. also when do I put the fresh fruit in
    i would use the small canning jars ( Jelly size)

    1. Hi Ruth! I have an Overnight Steel Cut Oats recipe and an Overnight Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats recipe that you might enjoy. Both recipes make quite a few servings, so you can use them for meal prep. You can definitely use fresh fruit to top your finished bowls of oatmeal. I hope this helps and that you enjoy the recipe!