It’s almost 2021—time to set some New Year’s intentions! If you’re like most people who’ve survived the chaos that’s been 2020, you’re probably looking to turn over a new leaf when you turn over that calendar page. The start of a new year is symbolic in many ways, but also a powerful way to clear your mind of the old and make way for what’s ahead.

Setting intentions is different than setting resolutions in some key ways. Resolutions are about planning things you will do, and while that’s admirable, the truth is that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail. That likely means you know exactly what it’s like to hang a new calendar on the wall, get excited about turning over a new leaf, and a few weeks into the year find yourself reverting back to your old ways.

According to psychologist and holistic life coach Dr. Cheryl Meier, the difference between setting intentions and making resolutions is a stark one. “When you set intentions, it is like you are communicating to yourself and to the ‘universe,’ This is the direction I would like to move towards and align with,” said Dr. Meier in an interview.

Dr. Meier broke down the way setting intentions can put you in the right mindset for success, whether your goal is to make more money, lose weight, treat yourself better, or learn a new skill. “There’s a Greek word, “telos,” that comes to mind—it is our end goal or aim. If you think of life, for a moment, as if you are a radio frequency, you are setting your dial to align with your intention. You are tuning yourself into that frequency. It’s also like if you are skiing downhill, you look in the direction you’d like to go. Part of the power of setting intentions is about putting out into the universe what you want to get back. It’s about being purposeful about how you live your life so you can actualize your dreams and goals. After all, you can’t create the life you want unless you can visualize what that life is, right?”

In other words, resolutions can come with a downside if you don’t meet them. They’re a benchmark where you judge yourself as having succeeded or failed, which can put added pressure on you, and make you feel demoralized if you don’t, say, practice yoga every day, rather than congratulating yourself for doing it 28 out of 30 days. “When we set resolutions we are oftentimes demanding a specific ‘end’ or ‘outcome’ and we feel ashamed if we don’t reach that,” said Dr. Meier. With intentions, you can be more gentle on yourself, and see the act as a journey and a process of self-improvement to help you reach your goals in life.

So how, exactly, do you go about setting intentions for yourself? Dr. Meier said it’s less about the specifics of following one step after another and more about being open to listening to yourself in the most deeply personal way, and unlocking what those intentions truly mean. “Invite yourself to hear what your intentions are,” she said. “You can even ask yourself, ‘Why do I want this?’ Is it because I think I will be more loved or accepted if I reach that ‘goal?’ If so, then you can consider setting your intention to be more present with yourself and seeing you already are worth loving. The more you know this, the more it ‘cleans up’ your intentions!”

You can perhaps start with using a special journal, finding a quiet, comfortable space to write, and thinking about where you’d like to be in a year, literally or figuratively. What about your life do you want to change? What’s making you happy right now that you want to keep about your daily routine and what areas do you want to shake things up? You don’t have to know the exact path you’re going to take to get there, but by stating these intentions in writing and/or saying them out loud, you’re letting it be known that this is where you’ll be focusing your energy and heart in the New Year.

Here are some other ways you can work on making 2021 a wonderful year:

1. Use crystals to guide you

Crystals can help you in setting your intentions and centering yourself. Focus on specific crystals depending on what area of your life you most want to change. Healthline has a breakdown of the most common crystal types and what they’re used for, such as rose quartz for love, obsidian for protection, tiger’s eye for harmonizing and moonstone for new beginnings.

2. Know when mercury is in retrograde

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, in 2021, “Mercury will be in apparent retrograde motion” from, January 30 to February 21, May 29 to June 22, and September 27 to October 23. The Almanac recommends, “[W]hen Mercury is retrograde, try to remain flexible, patient, and understanding, allow extra time for travel and avoid signing onto any new contracts that you’re unsure of. Double-check your email responses and check-in with reservations before you take that trip.”

3. Give your home a makeover

Especially with so many people spending more time at home in 2020 and 2021, making your living space one that’s totally in tune with your personality is key to helping you relax. Don’t like your wall color or wallpaper? Change it! Ready to hone your green thumb? Get some plants.

Working from home and want to mark the transition from the workday to your personal time? Burn some incense.

incense burner

Whether you’re in a dorm room, apartment, or house, you can create a welcoming oasis for yourself from the rest of the world, a space that’s for you and you alone. You don’t have to wait until it’s time for spring cleaning to create the perfect setting to help you live your best life. You can do this whether you live alone, with roommates, partners, or your family.

4. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep

Whether you need six or eight or ten hours of sleep, ensure that those zzzz’s are peaceful ones. Remove any clutter from your bed, make sure your curtains keep out the light, and turn off your phone and computer an hour before you plan to go to sleep. Hang a dream catcher above your bed so you can ensure your sweet dreams stay with you.

However you plan to say goodbye to the dumpster fire of 2020 and hello to 2021, we wish you all the best in setting intentions and making the most of turning a page in the calendar and starting fresh.