Identify what brings you joy: Starting the year as you mean to continue

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Happy New Year! 

With the smell of the new wafting through the air, it’s that time of year when we naturally tend to think about what we want to achieve for the coming year.  I’m not talking about New Year’s resolutions. Rather, taking the time to dream about what we want from life, and then setting some actionable goals to make our dreams a reality.  And now is the perfect time to do this! 

Whilst we are still only days into the New Year, and perhaps still in holiday mode, it’s an ideal time to pause and consider what we want from this year, how we want to feel and the dreams we want to make happen over the coming 12 months.

After completing a review of the previous year, the next logical step is to plan for the coming year.

Goals should be aligned to your passions + inspiring

When you set goals for the New Year, they need to be aligned with your passions. Of course, passion is not enough. As I have shared previously, New Year goals must also be inspiring. If we tap into our feelings, the goal will be more motivating and inspiring. And when we are motivated and inspired, we tend to act upon these things.

If your goals are not aligned with your passion and inspiring, they will remain on your vision board or task list, with little to no progress.  

However, when they are aligned with your passion and inspiring, you will happily and willingly move towards them every day. It would be physically painful for you not to!  In this instance, having your goals speak directly to your heart and your passion is transformative in terms of your ability to make them happen!

Pre-work for goal setting

Before we jump into planning and setting goals, we need to identify what brings us joy. What are we passionate about? What makes us happy?  As clearly, we should be aiming to do more of that during the year if we want to have our best year yet!

However, what if we don’t know what our passion is?  What if we struggle to identify what makes us happy?

Whilst it might seem unusual to not know what makes you happy, when working with clients I am struck by the fact they often have not identified what makes them happy and cannot say when asked what brings them joy. 

And thus, I have found that determining what brings us joy is something we all need. And as our lives change, we may need to re-examine what we are passionate about and brings us joy.  Especially during times of transition or after major life events, we can forget what brings us joy, or we may need to revisit or adjust what we feel passionate and joyful about in this new stage of our life.

Clues to identify what brings you joy

There are many ways to explore what you feel passionate about, what brings you happiness and lights up your soul.  Sometimes it can be reconnecting with your purpose, other times it can be found when writing a bucket list.

At other times, a good dose of self-care can we connect them to feeling centred, calm and truly joyful in their life. 

Interestingly, when we feel blocked about what will bring us happiness, and unable to articulate what it might be, we can employ a few different techniques to reveal to ourselves the things we are currently missing but would like to have more of in our life. When we are missing things that we would actually like to do, this is a sure sign we need more of them to boost our happiness.

For example, I know when I wrote my bucket list this time last year, I realised there were pages and pages of items that related to travel. Clearly travel was something I felt I was missing!

The act of writing my bucket list helped me tap into what I was wanting more of in my life. And thus, helped me to see what I needed to do or change in order to boost my sense of well-being and happiness.  Which is what most of us desire from our new year goals; to boost our well-being and happiness.

Explore what you love

Another tip to try when you are trying to identify your passion, is to explore the things you love doing.  When we are in a state of flow, time passes quickly without us realising it. These are often the things that bring us a great sense of joy. If you are unsure what this might be for you, take 15 minutes and write down at least 30 things that you love to do. Keep going until you have a list of 30 different things that you love to spend your time doing. Once you have that list, then notice any themes or patterns that emerge.   

Through this quick and fun exercise, you can identify what will bring you that sense of flow and happiness.  And once you’ve done that, you can use this information to help you set inspiring goals for the year – goals you will love to work towards.

Setting goals for the year

Personally, I like to have a mix of goals for the New Year. Two or three high-level inspiring goals that will guide me through the year and towards a big-ticket dream I wish to achieve.

My own process entails reflecting and reviewing the previous 12 months, and then determining where my focus lies for the coming 12 months. When determining the focus for the next 12 months, I set 2-3 big goals.  They usually include:

  1. a well-being goal

  2. a personal/family goal, and

  3. a business goal.

Smaller goals

I also operate a smaller (more achievable!) list of goals that can be fun to complete along the way. For the past two years I have had three high-level goals, and then between 10 and 20 small goals to move me forward throughout the course of the year. I pop them up on my noticeboard to keep it top of mind and to ensure I stay inspired. This approach has worked really well, and so I will be doing the same again this year. 

Examples of tasks or items to include on these smaller lists can include;

  • Visit my siblings in their own homes.

  • Design and decorate a room I love.

  • Develop and maintain a morning routine.

  • Visit a new place/city.

  • Read 52 books in a year.

  • Try a new food. 😊

  • Help someone with a check on their bucket list.

These examples are things I had on my list last year, and yes, I am happy to say, I achieved all of them! 

If you are stuck or wondering what other types of smaller goals you would like to address this year, you might also look at your dream list or bucket list and allocate 2 or more of these items to your smaller goal list for this year.

Or perhaps, through this process you realise and decide that one of your bucket list items is the big goal you are working towards this year?!

No bucket list? That might be your first goal for the new year; to create your bucket list

How are you tackling your goals this year? Have you identified what you are passionate about and what brings you joy?  Are your subsequent goals inspiring? Do you prefer to have 2 to 3 large overarching goals for the year? Or do you prefer to have more but smaller goals to tackle?

Whatever your answer may be, I hope your goals are inspiring and motivating. I also hope that taking some time to set inspiring goals at this time of year feels timely and enjoyable for you. 

By identifying the things you love and bring joy now, you can start the year as you mean to continue. That is, filling your life with the people and things you love, and in this way, using your goals to support you create a life you love!


 Keen to make this year your best ever, and start as you mean to continue? I love to support people achieve their dreams and goals and would love to support you too. Book your complimentary consult with me today and together we can make this year the year you make your dreams come true.