As we transition into the new year, we begin to reflect on the year that has passed, with all the highs and lows of 2023 coming to mind. One way to embrace the new year's change is to think about what we want 2024 to look like. Many prepare for the new year by making a list of resolutions for all the goals and habits they look forward to achieving. Another way to approach a New Year's resolution is by setting intentions. Intentions are an opportunity to identify the steps you take to achieve your goal, with a plan to ensure you stay on track. Whether it is a career shift or beginning to go to the gym, the first step to setting intentions is to manage expectations with yourself.
Before setting intentions for the coming year, we must ask ourselves, where am I? Consider assessing your needs based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, a motivational theory created by psychologist Abraham Maslow. Originally comprising five categories, the theory has expanded to include eight categories divided into deficiency and growth needs levels. Deficiency needs are associated with survival and safety, including physiological, safety, belonging, love, and esteem. The growth needs are associated with an individual's reaching their full potential through intellectual and creative endeavours. These categories are cognitive needs, aesthetic needs, self-actualization, and transcendence.
Now, think of where you are as you begin the year. Have you changed your career, moved cities, had a change in your relationship status, or all of the above? Setbacks in different areas of life may cause some momentary instability in your basic needs. Achieving growth needs will be much more challenging if your deficiency needs are unmet.
There are various ways to tackle a New Year's resolution, but setting intentions allows for a more conscious effort toward envisioning and achieving goals. Some may choose to manifest and think about the goals they want to accomplish until the universe makes it happen. BetterUp provides a list of ideas on how to manifest your goals best this year.
Another way to be intentional about goal setting is through SMART goals, which are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. By using SMART goals, you can use specificity to achieve clarity when creating your goals this year.
Attention, Approach and Actions
Although setting intentions is well and good, there is also room to think outside of the individual goals and think of the collective. To live and be committed to inclusive, anti-oppressive values, we must all deeply consider our Attention, Approach and Actions. Over the last year, there have been many social media campaigns in support of oppressed communities across the world. Such as those suffering from world conflicts in Palestine, the Congo, Yemen, and Sudan, women’s reproductive rights rolling back across the US, and anti-black racism happening to Black women in academia and the corporate space, lately most notably Claudine Gay, Harvard President and Dr. Antoinette "Bonnie" Candia-Bailey, University of Missouri Vice President of Student Affairs. What we do in these moments holds a lot of importance as, at times, our impacts can outweigh our intentions, which comes at the cost of people who are already marginalized.
There are additional injustices that have been inherited merely through being born into and existing in this world that will continue to persist into 2024: climate crises, genocide in many nations, anti-trans hate, disparities that run along the racial and gender lines, and growing economic uncertainties, for some leading to homelessness.
Combating these injustices involves a mixed approach with a large margin of variance, especially considering generational differences. A Weingart article looked at generational perspectives about opinions on homelessness and affordable housing in the United States. The article found that, as a whole, the older generations, Baby Boomers and Gen X, were more likely to donate to charitable agencies that support fighting homelessness. In contrast, Millennials and Gen Z were more likely to seek the root cause of the issue and call for systematic change in policy through advocacy. Both approaches call attention to the homelessness crisis, and the differing perspectives allow action to be enacted in different yet supportive methods to the cause.
Embracing a new year around the globe encourages us to reflect on our actions over the past year in hopes of becoming a better version of ourselves. We can address our self-improvement by managing our expectations and meeting ourselves with where we are. Above all, we must think outside of our individual goals and think of the collective. With the current and inherited injustices we're living through, having committed, inclusive, and anti-oppressive values is the best way to offer support when paying attention and making positive changes toward these issues.