Powerful and creative prompts for living your best life.

As 2023 draws to a close and 2024 beckons this transition time is an ideal opportunity to revisit and catalogue the memories you have made this year. Gretchen Rubin in “Life in Five Senses” https://gretchenrubin.com/books/life-in-five-senses/ describes making a word portrait of someone you love by listing 5 things that describe or relate to that person, the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures that you associate with them.

How much fun it could be to apply this concept to your year.

I challenge you to take a blank piece of paper, orientate it landscape, place the numerals ‘2023’ in the centre, then have 5 branches coming out of the centre, labelled, sights, sounds, tastes, smells, touch. Think about 2023 and without over analysing see if you can list 5 memories under each heading. Go!

If you are finding it difficult, flick through the photos on your phone, for reminders of moments you have wanted to record.  Remember, the ‘word portrait’ doesn’t need to be perfect. If you have 2 smells and 10 sights that is fabulous.

Here is mine for an example

Now, with your 2023 word portrait in front of you consider writing the answers to these prompts:

  • What brought you the most joy in 2023?
  • What are you most grateful for?
  • What did you discover about yourself, the world around you?
  • What did you gain clarity on?
  • What difficulties did you face?
  • What books did you love reading or what podcasts or movies were your favourites?

This process does not need to be completed in a single session. If you find yourself tired, distracted, or other commitments arise, put it somewhere visible and continue tomorrow.

Phase 2. Setting intentions

Now that you have reflected on 2023, I encourage you to set some intentions for the New Year. This is a process I have utilised for my entire adult life; therefore I can write with conviction that if you have some dreams, writing them down turbo charges the likeliness of them coming to fruition.

Here are several ideas. Use some or all of them. Try them on for size and see which ones are most effective for you. They include a word for the year, a symbol, and a short essay. I implore you to bring a playful approach to these exercises. Equal measures of courage and self-compassion will enable you to have ideas that are fulfilling.

I love having a word for the year. My personal choice for 2024 is embrace. Embrace people with love and a desire to help and heal, embrace opportunities with willingness and enthusiasm. It is best to choose a word that has multiple meanings. I start by listing a bunch of possibilities then sitting with them for a while until there is certainty on which one I want to focus on.

Last year I had so much fun having chosen a flamingo as my symbol for the year. Not only did it bring me joy, it literally led me on a road to real life flamingos in a salt pan in Spain. A powerful reminder that what we envisage so often materialises. Gretchen Rubin mentions having your symbol being a visual reminder of your word – whether you link them or not, it’s up to you. I’ve loved the flamingo so much I’m loathed to change it so it might come along for the ride again this year.

The ultimate ‘map’ involves a little more effort, it’s a longer term game plan. The exercise is to write a page on ‘my life in five years’. For best results write it in the present tense, i.e. imagining it is already January 2029 and you are describing your life at that moment. It may be helpful to consider the five senses we looked at when reflecting on last year to again make this a word ‘portrait’.


Phase 3. Chunking it down.

My personal experience is that the word and symbol are overarching simple touchpoints that will guide you as you make decisions through the year. Your essay ‘my life in five years’ will be a valuable reference tool when major choices are in front of you. You simply ask yourself, will taking this fork in the road lead me closer or further away from my ideal ‘life in five years’?

The key to taking this plan and converting it from dream to reality is to chunk it down to actions you will take in the next month, quarter, and year. The experts all agree that the more specific you are the more likely you’ll action your intentions. This will be my second year for using a Komorebi luxe planner https://komorebiluxeplanners.com.au/ to help me record and track my progress. This Australian designed planner is both a work of art and functional. It makes planning simple and fun.

Finally, think of all this like a navigation chart. And you are the captain of your boat. Wind, currents, and storms will influence your progress and your route. So be flexible and adjust accordingly.

Watching fishing boats speed across the ocean recently it struck me that I’ve spent most of my life charging through the waves as if I’m at the helm of a sturdy boat with a turbo engine. There have been times when I would have described it more like rowing hard and being tossed up and down more than I like. In this current phase of life I’m considering the option of using sails more often, using the winds of change to take me to happy places and recognising when to find shelter in a picturesque bay.

This quote by Paul Meyer is a favourite

Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire,

Sincerely believe, and

Enthusiastically act upon…

Must inevitably come to pass.

As you reflect and plan I hope that you will find these prompts helpful. I’d love you to share your word of the year in the comments section below.

May today be filled with vitality, including a large dollop of creativity,



  1. Jordan Farnsworth on 30 December 2023 at 11:17 am

    Ryan and I have sat down tonight and followed this and it has been so good!
    Thanks for the suggestion to do this! It’s empowered me to make it apart of my routine.

    • Vitality with Esyltt on 31 December 2023 at 6:12 am

      Thanks for the feedback. I wish you and your family a thriving 2024.

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