It is officially a new year! A new breath of fresh air, new vibes, maybe a renewed sense of self or reset moving forward. Or, perhaps you’re still struggling with some grief and loss from the previous year. Maybe it’s even further back than that, and that is still holding you up a bit. You’re a bit stuck going into this year.

That’s okay! Just because a new year arrives doesn’t mean all of us feel this blank slate. This new and profound and wonderful new beginning. Not always that straightforward, right?

So let’s explore that a bit. Today, your gain is to not just learn how to set intentions for the year – you can google that, right? We’re getting more into why this idea of setting intentions is so powerful, how it can set us up with a more impactful way, and we’ll also talk about how and why determining a “word” of the year is such an awesome practice – especially while dealing with some form of grief.

You Are Not Behind, and You Are Not in a Deficit

I want to preface this by saying that if this feels intimidating, if this feels like too much, if it feels like you’re already behind… release that. Release it right now. You’re not behind, you’re exactly where you’re meant to be. Despite a lot of salesy and businessy messaging out there that promotes this whole new year, new you idea, it can leave you feeling in a deficit and the new year has barely started.

You’re not in a deficit. You’re not behind. This is something you do on YOUR terms in the way that it feels most aligned to you. This is a zero-pressure zone here, all I want to help you do is begin this process if you need a little pick-me-up, a little guidance, or a little inspiration and know that this is something you want to do, you just need a little encouragement along the way.

The thing is, and we know this well if we’ve been through a loss or we’re coping with some form of grief. Be it a person or a lifestyle change or anything under the sun, a wrench can be thrown in any plan at any time. 

Resolutions are really easy to not act on or throw out the window if there isn’t heart and a WHY behind them.

Why Intentions Trump Resolutions

For example, a New Year’s resolution “to exercise for 30 minutes every single day” leaves basically no room for error–29 minutes of exercise 1 day out of 365 and it can feel like you’ve failed, right? That’s super specific. There’s nothing wrong with specific goals if this is something that helps you. But if that is you, I’m also going to ask that you be hyper-aware of not meeting that exact goal and how it makes you feel.

Because intentions and resolutions… they should be empowering. Encouraging. Uplifting. Inspiring. If for a second they make you feel lesser than, that’s a sign something isn’t right. We don’t want to abandon these things that are important to us just because of the perceived failure, right?

Resolutions can often pressure you to focus on checking the box rather than reevaluating the circumstances and making a decision that aligns with your core values. For example, getting a better handle on your grief so you can sleep better and care for your family. That’s an impactful overarching goal, and then it’s just a matter of finding the right tools to cope with your grief so you can make this happen.

The Difference Between a Resolution and Intentions

We’ve touched on this a little already but just to clarify further. Intentions focus more on how you approach your life, rather than what you accomplish.

This may seem like a small nuance, but it’s an important one. Because what you ultimately end up accomplishing is a direct result of how consistently you work toward it. Anything that demotivates you is counterproductive.

An intention under the same value (like physical health, for example) would be to “live an active lifestyle.” An intention focuses so much more on the core value itself than on how you achieve it or what the outcome is.

In doing so, it becomes an even more powerful tool for creating successful change in your life. Why? Because it gives you room to be a human! To allow for the ebbs and flows and life. To allow room for that morning when you’re just too tired. When a kid is sick, when a partner really needs you, when work has just been too much and you need a break. More importantly, to play, explore, learn, pivot, and grow. This is all work that happens as you work toward living in alignment with your values.

The Hose Analogy

Imagine for a second a garden hose that’s shooting out water. When you squeeze too tightly, it cuts off that water quite a bit or even completely. You’re not allowing the water to flow freely and do what it needs to do – water the plans. It’s the same thing when we grasp too tightly on expectations or things that aren’t truly aligned with our values or what we need at the time. We’re forcing it to do this unnatural thing. 

The more we can allow this flow to come in and do what it needs to do, the better and more successful (I use that term loosely because this is all in the eye of the beholder) we’ll be. 

And remember, it’s not about giving ourselves excuses. I’ve actually noticed that the more we allow room for really feeling into our soul and feeding it what it needs that day, the more we’ll be motivated to take these actions. 

Taking Aligned Actions

For me for example, to use this physical activity idea again, I don’t do the same workouts each morning. I might have an idea going into it the night before based on what muscle groups I worked the previous day, but if I’m really feeling like I need to do some core work that day, I do core work. If I need to slow down or I’m a little tired, but still want to get something in, I do yoga or pilates.

This flow allows me more freedom to do this on my terms and in a way that feels good so there’s less resentment around the process. And listen, if you’re someone who works better with “leg day” being on Monday and core being on Wednesday and arms on Friday… you do you. You know what’s best for you. Whether it’s diet or exercise or any other intention you want to say, it can be as structured as you want. I just want to hammer this home: the less pressure there is, the more room for evolution and growth you allow, the happier and more motivated you will feel.

When to Set Intentions

I should mention again if I haven’t already, this process of setting intentions can be done at any time of year. I want to make that clear. But this is great and honestly so fun to do around a new year because it helps you get clear about how you’d like to live your life differently, and for so many of us a new year can feel like a blank slate, so why not? But regardless of when you do this, you can make decisions and take actionable steps toward your best, most vibrant and intentional life.

And by the way, these can change throughout the year so feel free to reevaluate! I did this at least a few times throughout the year last year, so allow space for that, too. Things come up. For example, I found out I was pregnant in June and my priorities shifted a bit. But you don’t need to go through some major life event to have a fresh look at these. 

What I will say is if you’re feeling a shift, if you’re feeling some movement in your life, if you just have a LOT going on… look at your intentions and see if they still resonate. Who knows, maybe you’ll be doing so well you actually want to challenge yourself a little more! But if it’s feeling like you need to take a little step back, give yourself the grace to do that, too.

Avoiding Old Habits and Patterns

On that note, I will say one of the reasons I truly love intention setting and having a “word” or two for the year is because otherwise, it’s possible to fall into old habits and patterns of behavior that leave you in the same place you are today. That’s not making progress and healing ourselves, right? I’ve seen this with clients I worked with this year. An important part of their process for really making long-lasting change was understanding WHY it was important to them.

Because that’s what you’ll come back to over and over again. That’s what will keep you going. Looking better or feeling better is all good and well, but if there’s emptiness or a lack of heart behind it, it’s far easier to fall into inconsistency or lose motivation altogether.

Understand Your Values

If you’re an employee somewhere that is just not feeling your job and wants out, your intention might be “to explore your passions and get out of your comfort zone”. Beautiful, that’s amazing. That wording and intention allows you to spend time in the evenings on the things that you love, to look for opportunities in your job to do something new, or to change careers entirely.

To bring it back to core values for a moment, one way to do this is to categorize them into groups.

For example, if your intentions have things like, “I will make time to read, I will take a new course, and I will watch documentaries”, then Learning & Growth may be one of your values.

If your list has things like, “I get out for a walk, I have the energy to play with my kids, and I do yoga” then Physical Health may be one of your values.

This makes the process a little less intimidating, too. And, for those of us that have a little type A in us (that’s me), this can make this exercise a little more organized and top-down.

Identify How to Move Toward Your Values

To do this, make a final list of, let’s say, 5-7 values that you hold. Write out things you do that bring you TOWARD your values, and things you do that take you AWAY FROM your values.

For example, one of my big values is being present and having time to get in touch with “me”. The essence of Tara, who I am as a soul here. Any time I focus on my breath, go for a walk, get off my cellphone and read, do a gratitude practice, really notice and appreciate something, and actively listen when someone talks, I am moving more and more toward that overarching intention of being present. 

On the other hand, any time I don’t get out for a walk and get that fresh air, scroll on social media too long, pay too much attention to other people’s thoughts or opinions, worry about my to-do list, interrupt someone, am multitasking too aggressively, I am moving AWAY FROM my values.

The key to seeing growth in any area of your life is selecting a few key things to focus on and giving them your all.

That being said, I want to empower and encourage you here and I certainly don’t want to force you to only pick one or two things, because if you’re an ambitious person like me and want to do ALL the things, that can be really hard. 

But, I will say that by really honing in, you’ll see more results in that one area than if you dilute your focus. Same concept as spreading yourself too thin. As you reflect on your values and the different areas of your life, think about which one needs the most attention to get you closer to your happiest, most peaceful life.

Do a Life Audit

Doing a life audit of sorts can help you get clear on what is and isn’t working in your life so that you know where you need to direct your time, energy, and focus in the coming year.

Is it your physical health? Is it your mental health or mindfulness? Career or business? Your family or kids? Partner? Finances? Home or environment? Hobbies or travel? Coping with your grief? Coming back to yourself again and getting to know you?

Create a concise sentence that reflects the change you’d most like to see in a certain area of your life.

For example, if you’ve chosen physical health as an area that needs the most focus in the New Year, choose a phrase that gets you fired up or bought into your intention.

So, this could be “to live an active lifestyle to fuel my body”. “To challenge my limits”. “To release habits that no longer serve me.” And, for the love of all that is holy, make sure your intention is focused on the heart of it. A perfect example of what not to put into the universe here is, “to lose weight”. Please, please don’t do this to yourself. If you want the weight to come off, fine, but understand that will come with the territory. Do not make that your main focus.

It might not seem like much, but that little difference is so important for you to actually enjoy thinking about your intentions and acting from a place of true, genuine motivation.

A Case Study

This was the case with one of my amazing clients this year. In one of our sessions, she noticed some unhealthy eating habits that she knew were wrong, she knew she wanted to change, she just didn’t know where to start or why she even had these habits in the first place.

So we started with the core of it. We got into WHY she was eating the way she was. While certain foods might just simply be delicious and something we love to enjoy, oftentimes there’s more to the story. Whether it has become a coping mechanism of some kind, or especially if you’re craving something specific, it may even be a nutrient your body is deficient in. That’s a whole other story, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it.

Getting to the Root of Your Grief

So, back to my client, she realized certain foods were a crutch or made her feel better emotionally, very temporarily, but didn’t make her feel good physically. And then when she didn’t feel good physically, she didn’t feel good emotionally and it became this vicious cycle.

Without divulging any personal details here obviously, together we got to the root of this. She came to realize a lot of it had to do with some unresolved grief and things she hadn’t coped with properly. 

The more she did that, the more “aha” moments she had around this, the more motivated she was to make positive changes because she understood them better. And this literally just came down to cutting out these less than favorable foods, because now she knew where it was all stemming from, and starting to workout just a little here and there. I remember getting an email from her however many weeks later and was like, “I just have to share this, I’m too excited, I lost four pounds! I know this is just a start but I’m so excited”. That’s such a beautiful example! 

Remember Your “Why”

I want to make this clear, this is not me preaching weight loss or that you need to get up off your butt and move. Again, purely an example here. In the depths of grief especially, I know how hard this is. I know the couch can feel like our best friend. What I want to hammer home is that getting to the WHY of things that are holding us back, and WHY it’s important to us to shift away from those things… that’s the golden ticket.

The thing is, for this client, it wasn’t about the weight. Maybe part of it was to her, but that was never the focus of our conversation. The moral of the story is we were able to get to the root of some of her deeper grief, which was the most important part. Those realizations and beginning to heal that just happened to positively affect her health and wellness, too, which was a beautiful added bonus.

Create Your Intention Around You

So again, maybe you want to make a career change. Your intention statement, so to speak, could be, “To discover a career path that lights me up and inspires me”. “To release this job that no longer fills me with joy and find something that I wake up excited to do.” 

Similar to our physical wellness example and not making it about the weight, avoid making it about other people. If you don’t love your boss, if your colleagues drive you crazy, don’t make it about them. Make it about you. What do YOU want and envision for yourself, other than just getting away from any annoyances. Just like the weight being able to come off for my client as a result of this larger intention, by shifting into a career or job that really does light you up or changes your perspective or challenges you in new and fun ways… those things will, theoretically, fall away, too.

If you really want to follow through with your intention, it’s so important to be able to actually see it and visualize it to remind yourself of the change you’re creating and get excited about the outcome and the process of achieving it.

Having a Word of the Year

So I want to now shift gears a little bit and touch on having a word of the year. We briefly touched on this at the beginning of the episode so let’s dig into this.

This is something you can do either in addition to setting your intentions for the year; or, in lieu of it. Maybe doing a full-on setting of intentions feels like a lot right now, perhaps you’re really going through a tough time and you can’t even THINK of an intention to set. Take your time with that process. Do one of these methods, do both, all that matters is the effort and thought.

Determining Your Word of the Year

So in 2023, my theme, so to speak, was to live intentionally and to do things that felt expansive and empowering. I envisioned a really happy, vibrant version of myself. Someone who is calm, present, and deeply content with myself and things in my life. From relationships to my work and more. It meant infusing each and every day with gratitude, positivity, joy, laughter… all the things.

So from there, I wanted to come up with a word that elicited this. This word is something that I wanted to be able to keep coming back to, and for it to be something that would help guide my choices and remind me of the way I wanted to show up for myself and other people. And more importantly, WHY I wanted to show up that way. Why that was important to me.

So, I have to admit I kind of cheated… I actually had two words in 2023. One was surrender, and one was abundance.


The surrender piece came from wanting to surrender to whatever was meant for me. To surrender to the process, of divine timing, of opportunities that were meant to come into my orbit this year, to surrender to things not working out if they weren’t meant to. 

A part of this was also allowing myself to slow down while also working on some really exciting and amazing things simultaneously, and having balance as I did that. Surrendering can really be so all-encompassing, but these were the top things this meant to me and when I think about surrendering, it’s that.


My other word, abundance, was really from a place of stepping into who I am meant to be. Finding purpose not necessarily out of my pain or my grief, but truly just discovering more that speaks to me and lights up my soul. Things that drive me to become a better version of myself, a version that shows up in intentional, meaningful ways not only for myself, but for others.

Abundance also meant an abundance in happiness and joy, that peace element that I just mentioned, fun, laughter, adventure, new experience, new people, new opportunities, even more money! I can’t sit here and say I didn’t wish for more financial abundance, I think that’s a perfectly okay thing to admit, too.

There are a lot of limiting beliefs and stigmas around money, and like if we want it that must mean we’re greedy or money-driven. I don’t feel that way at all. Money, currency, is simply an exchange of energy. It’s an exchange of currency for a good or service, and it’s one of the ways we as humans survive and live our lives here! There’s no shame around that, at least not in my eyes.

But it’s not just wanting more money for the sake of wanting more money, it’s so I can relax into my life a little bit better, have financial stability, go on those trips or adventures I want to go on to explore and see what else life has to offer. Sometimes that costs money, right? So abundance can look like a lot of things.

But really, it was just such a year of welcoming whatever was meant for me with open arms, and releasing what no longer served me.

My 2024 Words for the Year

For 2024, truthfully those ideals are still very much the same. Those are all things I still want for myself. But this year, I’m challenging myself to go a little bit deeper, too.

This year I’m cheating even more and actually having three words, but there are no rules here anyway. Although I will say, I would probably keep it to more than three if you’re doing this exercise so you can hone in and focus on each one really well and intentionally.

So that being said, quick recap of each of these before we wrap up this episode, and as we go through this, I’d love for you to think about what words are coming up for you for YOUR own journey here. Are they similar or the same as some of the ones I’m throwing out today? Are they completely different? Use this as a chance to gauge where you’re head is at.


Embodiment to me is living in the truest expression of ourselves. 

For me, I want to go into 2024 embodying all that it means to be a fun and supportive wife, the best new, first-time mom and step into that role really intentionally and with love, and a friend and support system that people in my life can rely on – those three things above all else. 

Professionally, I want to continue embodying and working toward being the absolute best coach, guide, and healer that I can possibly be. Whether this is through the 1:1 coaching with clients – I’m really leaning into and offering more of – or whether this through my membership or whatever other means I show up for people in this way next year. Embodying that figure for fellow grievers and people who engage with me and doing it from a place of service is absolute peak embodiment for me. To show up consistently, fully, and from a heart-centered place.

An engaging, fantastic podcast host, of course. One that continues to tackle tough topics, answers the difficult or cringey questions, tries new things, thinks and talks about things that are a little out of the box, brings on guests that are incredibly inspiring and motivating and will have true, long-lasting impact on those who are listening, to reach more listeners – I could go on.

Really, it’s just to further step into these roles as both a Grief Coach and a Transformational Life Coach. That’s my thing. That is my “why”. That’s what sparks an unspeakable amount of joy for me.

What Does “Embodiment” Mean?

This word “embodiment” really stood out to me because within the space of grief, we often don’t feel like we’re embodying much of anything. Or perhaps we were, maybe we were good before our loss happened, but now it has just completely gone awry or feels all messed up and there’s no sense of hope or direction or embodiment of literally anything. You might even be like, seriously Tara what nonsense are you spewing right now. All good if that’s where you are, this is food for thought ALWAYS.

But I also see embodiment as operating at our highest frequency and vibrational level as much as we can. Not 24/7, we need to allow for all the emotions and ups and downs of life, but as much as we can. 

Integrating the lessons and adversity and experiences we have so far, and taking that a step further and really owning that and maybe even creating something with it.

If this concept of embodiment intrigues you, give this some thought. What qualities, what role, what mindset (however you want to word this), do you want to embody this year? And, how could you do that, and WHY is that important to you?


This is a short but sweet one. Alignment to me is living in ways that feel juicy, feel good, feel empowering, and feel abundant. In a way that feels aligned, and in way that feels right and like it’s the right path.

In a way that feels so good to your soul and mind that you can’t help but be like HELL YES when something comes at you and you’re lit up by it. Or maybe it just makes you happy, happier than you’ve been in a long time.

Maybe it’s something that speaks to your natural gifts or interests. 

So alignment is when our thoughts, life-choices, and direction we take small actions toward all honor our core values. Alignment is when we listen to our intuition. You get to decide who you are and you get to decide to show up and live into that. Yes, even as we grieve or after a loss, because that process isn’t going to miraculously end. There comes a point where we need to make some conscious decisions to say yes to ourselves, something bigger, and perhaps something a little unknown.

But for me, that feels like an awesome focus going into a new year.


I’ve noticed I’ve even started working this more into social media posts and emails and thing that I send out so this has definitely been a big realization and theme for me this year that I really honestly discovered probably halfway through, but is one I want to continue and really lean into.

Vibrancy to me is living fully, happily, fully, intentionally, and with this spark and shine that we just emit into the world. It’s undeniable. You know when someone walks into a room and they just light it up? When they have this presence and energy that you can’t ignore? This is what I want to tap into and embody myself.

Another aspect of this vibrancy though is surrounding myself with people who are vibrant and emit these high frequencies and vibrations, too.

In my grief, I’ve been able to better clearly identify people in my life who do not bring this vibrancy. Those who do drain, those who take and take and take more than they equally give. Now this is a two-way street, always, so it’s also about what vibrancy and value and giving we bring to the lives of others, too! That’s all a part of this energy exchange.

But when we surround ourselves with people who can make us feel drained and exhausted and not our best, highest selves… this is something we need to be aware of and advocate for! For ourselves, and to elicit this from others.

Optimism vs. Pessimism

There are also people in my life who aren’t particularly optimistic–like people very close to me that I can’t exactly cut out of my life.

I know this about myself, I feel I have been this way since day one, really… I’m inherently optimistic. I’m that glass-half-full kind of girl, I’m going to figure things out, there’s not a lot that gets me down for long. I tend to see the good in things and people. I’ll be very transparent in saying that pessimistic people are really difficult for me mentally and to maintain relationships with.

As a little fun fact for you, according to the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences– optimistic people live as much as 15% longer than pessimists. 

Now with grief, this presents an interesting and quite frankly difficult dilemma. Because we can sometimes lose our optimism, our hope, our will, our joy and positivity. I see it all the time on social media and it makes me both cringe and profoundly sad at the same time.

The Will to Live and Thrive

There’s something to be said about the will to live. To thrive, to be joyful, to see the good. To have hope. There’s this idea of willing ourselves into death and life. In and out of illnesses. It’s honestly a really fascinating science, maybe I’l; do an episode on that because that’s really a bigger topic here.

But with this level of vibrancy I not only want to embody myself but share with the world, I sure as heck have come across some pessimists and doubters along the way.

This is hard for me at my core with the way I’m hardwired. Not to put too fine a point on it, but there’s too much beauty in life for that. Now, I’m not saying we don’t have our moments, of COURSE we all do. We go through some major loss, this can really throw us and our optimistic outlook off its axis. 

And if you had talked to me about this in my more acute grief right after my mom or dad died, I can’t say I’d be singing the exact same tune. We’re allowed to feel our feels and not every moment of every day is all honky dory, as we all know, because we’re human. I’m talking overall mindset here.

You Can Only Change Yourself, Not Others

But the thing about this, and the thing about dealing with people like this, is you can only change yourself. You can only manage YOUR expectations, YOUR actions, YOUR mindset, and YOUR response to these outside forces.

All we can do is show up with love, and take care of ourselves. And from there, we can better take care of others, too.

We can have these intentions and words that we talked about today that we live by and resonate with us. We can do our best to remember why they mean something to us, and live intentionally with them in mind every single day.

What Are You Doing Differently?

As the year comes to a close, your friends, your colleagues, or your social media feed may constantly be asking ‘what are you doing differently in 2024?’ And that’s a great question to ask. These are good questions that are the key to unlocking these breakthroughs and even have the capability of healing our grief little by little.

But the moral of the story today is don’t feel pressured to spout out a New Year’s resolution you found off a list on Pinterest. Take time to reflect on what actually matters to you and set intentions and come up with a word that allows you to become the most authentic, fulfilled, and happiest version of yourself. 

With all of your grief, with all of your baggage, with all of your circumstances in tow. Because that’s not all going to magically go away in a new year. We can release what’s no longer serving us, we can use a new year as a way to do a little reset, but one night of going from the 31st to the 1st on a calendar isn’t a guaranteed quick fix.

Questions To Ask Yourself

So ask yourself: what are your intentions? What is your word or words? WHY are those things coming up for you, and why do they matter?

Sit with that, journal with it, talk it out in a voice note or even with a friend over coffee… whatever feels enticing and most effective to you here.

I hope you found this post to perhaps be a little thought-provoking or welcomed a little mindset shift into your orbit today. Maybe this exercise of intention setting or word setting is something you’re up for trying if you haven’t yet or can at least get excited about in your own time. 

This exercise has truly been a fundamental practice in my own grief journey, I can’t say enough positive things about the mental and even physical benefits that intentions and powerful words like this can have on our psyche. So as I said, beautiful practice to do in a new year but if this is something you end up doing a check-in on mid-way through the year, that’s amazing too. However it keeps you best on track and keeps your spirit high. 

As always if you need a little additional support, guidance, or direction, my 1:1 coaching offers are always available to you, my monthly membership is another beautiful offering, and so much more on my website and linked below.

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