My New Year's Intentions for 2012 and Beyond


In seeming contrast to so many writers and thought-leaders who think that New Year’s Resolutions are pointless exercises in torturing oneself, I find setting intentions for the year to be inspiring. I love all opportunities to fine-tune and rethink, to refine and change course, to challenge myself and my goals anew.

Intention: Spend more time in natural spaces

Two years ago I was lucky enough to spend 7 months travelling, and the bulk of that I spent outside in Hawaii and Australia. I have missed being out-of-doors, absorbing sunshine, swimming in salt and freshwater, and breathing the scent of tree sap and decaying greenery.

Plan of Action: Though I’m now back on my home turf of NYC and Connecticut, there are still many opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy the natural world. I’m going to start with iceskating on a regular basis in January and February.

Intention: Have the courage to begin a truly creative project

I’ve had several art/creative ideas floating around in my heart and head for the last couple of years, but have done little to realize them. Two in particular have stuck with me, including a novella-length fictional story that wants to be told, and a fabric that I am dying to see in more than my mind’s eye.

Plan of Action: I have made a list of the steps I need to take to achieve each of the projects I would like to see to fruition. I am going to take one step each week to making both my writing project and the fabric idea a reality. It’s ok if it takes awhile, these are things I want to do for myself, so I don’t have to stress about them, but they must actually move forward. In the past I have expected results too soon, and felt disappointed when relatively big ideas didn’t happen immediately. This time around, I am going to be more patient with myself and the process.

Intention: Simplify my Life

This sounds like a vague one, with an even bigger, vaguer end goal behind it, but I’m going for it anyway! I want to take my life from a static, live-in-one place existence to one that varies with the seasons or the year, and/or means that I can live at least part of each year as a traveller. But first I need to shed my life of everything that’s unnecessary.

Plan of Action: Like many Americans, I’ve managed to collect quite a bit of stuff, and I want to find a home for it that’s both responsible and not wasteful. This will take some time, but I’ve already started by changing the way I consume, and by how much ‘stuff’ I got rid of in 2011. I will keep going.

What are your resolutions, if you like to make them?

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.