Help create a 2023 focus with these simple steps to identify and take realistic action that works for you!

Plan Your 2023 Focus Transcript

As somebody who considers herself a personal development, almost a junkie in a way, one thing has kind of always felt mysterious…and that’s been the New Year’s resolution. 

The New Year’s resolution is a really solid idea, but executed so poorly by almost everybody. In fact, studies show that on average, people give up on New Year’s resolutions on January 19th, it’s actually nicknamed “Quitters Day.”

Nineteen! That is not even three weeks of working towards something that you are so invested in. 

You’ve probably already bought things to help you get to this goal. You have made some sort of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter post about it, and we can’t even make it three weeks! 

So there’s a lot of factors that I think go into this. I have tried to help use the things that I’ve collected over the years as little tidbits of knowledge to promote a better way, a more effective way, kind of a more scientific nerd style way, of making sure that you’re not only approaching these resolution thoughts the right way, but that you are also giving yourself a way to feel successful when we don’t even make it three weeks on average.  

I’ve called this the Plan It Forward Challenge for the last three years on Instagram. I’ve created workbooks, and I’ve emailed them out, I’ve done lives, and it was just a lot, honestly, around this time of year. Right now I don’t feel like I personally have the energy to do it, but I don’t want to keep the new and improved updated version of the Plan It Forward Challenge from anybody. 

So as we approach new year’s resolutions, I want to give you my take on it. How I think that you will be more successful, going into the season of everybody trying to be a better version of themselves, and actually making it stick. Maybe not forever, but it should be longer than 19 days. So let’s dive on in. 


The biggest problem I see with New Year’s resolutions is actually the word resolution. To be resolute in something. To be so solid and never swayed. To make a permanent modification, or change, to essentially who you have been for the previous portions of your life. 

We are telling ourselves that we are resolved to achieve something very specific. And we dive in all at once, in one day (after most people stay up too late and ruin their sleep cycle), and don’t eat the greatest throughout the entire holiday season. It’s cold, so working out is hard. All of these things that usually would hinder doing some of the major resolutions, well, they’re all prominent right about then. But we think that overnight, it’s just going to change, and we’re going to pull a whole 180. 

Why January 19th is nicknamed “Quitters Day,” I think in part because the goals and resolutions that we set, we feel like if we slip, we’re done. If we are not actually fully resolute in those changes, then we kind of just say, “Well, okay, it was a nice try”, and we move on with our lives. 

New Year’s 2023 Focus

Instead of having a resolution, I like to consider having a New Year’s focus. Now, I still don’t think that we have to do it all on January 1st. It’s kind of a nice idea. It’s at the beginning, but it’s the same idea. Like, why wait for a Monday? Why wait for a new week to start if you know that something is gonna improve your life? And you can start now, that’s totally cool. 

So if you still want to stick to that, a New Year’s focus is going to be a better terminology for your brain to wrap around. And it just feels more flexible. It’s something that we can give our effort to, but a slip up does not mean that we’ve ruined our focus. We can get right back on focusing on it as a long term goal or a long term shift. And we can focus in stages.

I tried to take on a New Year’s focus in each of the primary areas of my life. And if you listened to the SWOT analysis episode, we already focused on a few pillars that we wanted to reflect on in our lives. I suggest choosing a focus for each of those pillars moving forward.

The easiest way to do this, I think, is to write out what you would consider a goal that you have for all of those areas. Make yourself a ton of lists, lots of columns, all the color coding and highlighting. But write down and brain dump all of the things that you think you would like to, or wish to, accomplish, and see if you can kind of summarize a good bulk of them (the achievable ones) into a single phrase, or even a single word. 

2023 Focus Word of the Year

If you’ve seen “word of the year” over the last, I don’t know, 10-15 years (I feel like it got really popular), where you pick one word for the entire year. If you can narrow it down to be something so simple, then I suggest you do it, because that also gives you freedom within that to redefine what that focus means to you. 

If your focus means health, that doesn’t mean that right away you have to work on running a marathon. That means that you can focus on anything that is encompassed in health. And as things evolve, as our commitments are kind of settled more in the year, you can evolve that focus in any direction that you need. There are some days where you might not have a really good way to focus on your health, but that doesn’t mean you’ve lost focus entirely. 

Make it Visible

That kind of comes to my second part. Once you’ve figured out a 2023 focus idea, phrase, thought, word for each of these main three pillars that you’ve selected in your life, then you need to put that thought in front of your face, like constantly. 

A lot of people do really interesting things with their word of the year. Sometimes they choose to put it on a coffee mug that they drink out of every morning. You can find bracelets with your word that you can put on it. Put it on shirts. Also, it’s really effective if you just journal it. If at the beginning of your day, even on a post-it note, you just write down what those 2023 focus ideas or phrases are each day, it keeps it at the forefront of your mind. It reminds you that that’s what you’re working towards. 

That’s very similar to in most planners, you have a spot for your big three goals of the day or of the week. Things that you have to get accomplished. Well, these are your big three 2023 focuses. 

Now, are you going to remember to do it every single day? No, probably not. I know that I struggle with this a lot, even when I am very focused intensely on a goal. But knowing that I have a more constant reminder is going to allow me to just make more conscious choices that will get me towards where I want to be.


Affirmations are another really good way in the morning to just remind yourself, by speaking out in the present tense, whatever the focus is that you have, as if you’ve already achieved that 2023 focus.

Necessary Tasks

Within some smaller timeframes, you can also assign yourself a task that you know is going to be necessary, and timely, to help you reach whatever long term goal you have that you’re focusing on.

Sometimes we need to have a very specific line item. Like I can’t just say that I want my 2023 focus at school to be “balance” without sometimes telling myself directly, “This week, I will only grade for two hours at school.” Done! Sometimes you need that specificity. 

But we’re still looking at the overarching picture. Right now we’re trying to set up those overarching focuses for the year. I just want you to know that sometimes you will come back to it and have to give yourself a little bit more information on what you need to actually focus on within it.

Constant Reflection

The last part of this is constant reflection. If we’re already reminding ourselves, as often as we can, what our 2023 focus is, what steps we are taking in that 2023 focus to reach our long term goals, then we also need to make sure that we are giving ourselves some time to reflect. 

I just finished my first 5-page grad paper on the reflective practices of teachers, and let me just tell you…it was not very informative. But I do really agree with a lot of the things that they brought up. You need to take reflection and make time for it. It doesn’t have to be in depth. It doesn’t have to be something crazy, but just acknowledging almost like a mini SWOT analysis, what went well, what didn’t? What are some things that I can improve on? And what are some things that are going to hold me back? How can I move forward, continuing to put effort into this? 

Now, weekly might be too much depending on what your 2023 focus is. Monthly might not be often enough, so it comes down to a really personal decision on when you want to really think through how you’ve been doing in those focus areas. 


I highly suggest an accountability buddy. Somebody that is not going to cut you any slack. Someone that is going to be very open with you, and that is going to help reguide you back onto the path you want to be on. Sometimes you might need to make some money bets so that you can keep things really motivated.

We tend to be more likely to follow through on something if we’re accountable to somebody else. So having an accountability partner for the things that we’re trying to achieve, is actually helping us succeed in the long run. And that’s kind of weirdly ironic, but a nice thing, we can each hold each other accountable. It’s going to actually work for us mentally.

So you’re going to find yourself a 2023 focus word, phrase, or idea for each of the three pillars that you have going on in your life that you want to actually put effort into in the new year. Or right now if you don’t want to wait till the New Year. 

I want you to brain dump all of your goals related to that topic, so that you can really narrow it down and make sure that it’s something that you want to work towards. Then you are going to take those words, phrases, ideas, and you are going to put them in front of your face often. Then check back in on how your progress is going at a time, at a rate, that really feels natural for you. It can’t be long enough that you forget about it, and it can’t be so short that you feel like you have to give up your entire life to focus on it.

Then you’re going to start seeing things really kind of work themselves out, I think. It’s not a resolution, it’s not even really a goal. It’s just putting your mindset in the direction of where you want to be. Helping you build something that is a little bit more sustainable down that path. 

2023 Focus Words of Wisdom

Now this was technically supposed to be a school geared episode for teachers to be able to put something into their school days that is going to help them out. So I want to leave you with some words of wisdom and also possibly an activity that you can do with your students the day they come back. Because we all know that that is not going to be a day for focus. 

Some words of wisdom:

  • Be willing to set some focus areas in the world of teaching for the next year.
  • Find gratitude every day. 
  • Make sure that what you do counts. 
  • What your students do only counts if it matters. 

Now, you might need to repeat that one. That was actually pretty good. I’m really proud of that one.

Introduce What Matters

This final suggestion is something that you really have to take on embodying a little bit differently. When you introduce yourself to people, do not introduce yourself as a teacher first. Introduce the things that matter in the order that they matter. And while teaching is a large part of our lives, I know that I really need to work on saying, “Hi, my name is Sam. I’m a mom of three. I’m creative and passionate about organizing. And I happen to be a high school science teacher.”

I feel like just making that little shift is going to make so much difference in how I prioritize other things. And I just wanted to throw that out as a suggestion for you, too.

Lastly, I want to leave you with something that you can take back to the classroom and do with your students to help them also realize how they can accomplish their goals.

I have two different worksheets for you that I’ve linked below. One is more geared towards the 5th through 8th grade levels, and it’s about goal crushing and how to set and break down goals so that they are achievable and successful. 

And then I’ve also taken this episode and turned it into a worksheet geared more towards your high school age students, and is going to ask them about three pillars of their lives to create a 2023 focus that they have for the next semester.

Let’s be real, we’re in high school. It’s probably not going to last a whole year, but they can at least keep their eye on the prize for the next semester and start learning how to track and improve their habits now before we release them into the wild. 

Let’s all move into this new year, just keeping focus. Until next time.


Episode 31: SWOT- Reflecting on your year

5-8 Goal Crushing Worksheet

9-12 Focus Worksheet

5 Steps to Simplify Your To Do List

Focus Blocks

Productivity Planner

Unit Planning Kit

How to Find Me




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Keywords: 2023 focus, New Year’s resolutions, goals, resolution, swot analysis, reflection