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January 03, 2012

The Wishing Tree: Visualizing our New Year's Goals

A while back, I posted a picture of my Thankful Tree, which came from an idea I found on Pinterest. (Thanks, Pinterest!) I was a little sad at having to take it down to make room for our Christmas decorations, but Aby gave me a great idea… My tree has now been reborn as a Wishing Tree!


Wishing tree

I gathered these branches from my backyard this fall. I liked the bare wood for the Thankful Tree, but now after spray-painting them silver, they look so sophisticated. I cut bright white stars out of cardstock (thanks to the die cut at our local library), then hole-punched them. In my Thankful Tree, we hung the leaves directly on the branches, but we're hanging the stars with silver and black ribbons.


This tree is sitting on a table in our entryway, which is an area we walk through or past constantly. Over the last week, we’ve all been adding our stars. Some are sweet: “Be nicer to my family.” Some are serious: “Eat healthier!” And some are just downright funny: “Have a less chewing puppy.” (I feel pretty confident that wish will be granted once our newest addition is done teething!)


From the small to the big things, each star represents our family’s hopes and dreams for this year. I am loving this tree for so many reasons.

  1. It looks so pretty! All the silver, white and glass represent the new year to me – a shiny, new, clean slate.
  2. I think it’s nice not only to write down what we want, but also to share it in such a public space. Talk about accountability!
  3. It’s powerful to visually see those stars all through the day. As Aby says, “The more you can keep your goals top of mind, the easier it will be to create them.” I think that’s so true.

I think this is a great way to get us started towards turning our wishes into goals, and to that end, I think sometime over the next week I will ask each of us to decide which of these is our absolute top priority for the year. Then, those wishes become goals, and we can encourage each other to work towards achieving them. I think I’ll find a way to draw extra attention to the goal stars, maybe with some glitter Mod Podge.


I’m not sure how long the tree will be up, but I will find a way to keep those top goals on display throughout the year.  And, I’m pretty sure a new family tradition has been born.


Happy New Year!

Jens signature black
P.S. Could you use a little help in defining or achieving your own goals? Aby's life-changing workshop, How to Achieve Your Goals and Create a Life You Love, begins this Thursday, January 5, 2012! We'd love to see you there!


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I had a thankful tree for Thanksgiving too and this is a great idea to reuse it!


Catherine, if you do it, I hope you'll share a pic of it with us maybe on pinterest or facebook!


I think these are a nice idea, 'if' applied to 'realistic intentions', that is 'intentions' that actually have a possibility of materialising. I do recall however, hearing from someone once that if we live constantly in a state of 'wishing' and 'wanting' we can never really be content with who we are and what we have. So now I find myself at odds with the idea.

I do however, prefer the thought of a 'gratitude' tree. I find it a more positive vehicle, especially when there are children in the house, who are forever complaining about what they 'don't' have, and need to be reminded of what they 'do' have. Why put more pressure on a parent by sticking stars on a tree to remind everyone of what they don't have?

I've been doing a lot of reading about the new generation of 'entitled children' and how one day life will teach them a hard lesson which may knock them off their perch and they won't see it coming. Surely, having a 'wishing' tree would somehow feed that sense of 'entitlement'? I think having intentions, goals or visualisation boards are a good thing - if only to give us something to strive for, however, I feel the whole 'The Secret' thing is SO over-rated and last decade, especially when many are out there hurting due to nothing more than bad economic times, and have had it proved to them that it 'doesn't always work' to ask the universe to deliver in a form of unrealistic materialistic prayer. When it fails they find it hard to believe in anything anymore, let alone themselves.

Say you look at this tree in a year and that star wishing for a holiday still isn't realised due to nothing more than financial hardship, isn't that just going to make one feel worse? Especially if we know we have given 100% to the cause but have been unable to reach it, due to nothing but hard economic times, family circumstances and the need to put necessity above luxury?

Sorry to be a nark, but just trying to inject some 'feet on the ground' thoughts here. Go the 'gratitude tree' and the 'to-do' list of realistic intentions.


Hi, Angela. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I completely share your concerns over the issue of entitlement with our children. It is something my husband and I discuss quite a bit. I thought about setting a rule that we don't wish for material things on our tree, but it turns out that I didn't have to. My husband and I got the ball rolling on the first few stars, and the children seem to have picked up on the types of things we are wishing for... definitely not *stuff* but rather things we want to accomplish, and the kids seem to be following our lead.

I think you are so right that about how unrealistic and material wishes can lead to unnecessary disappointment. When I think of an "intention," I am thinking of it in terms of a resolution or a plan rather than something that might magically happen just because I want it to. It's something that requires effort.

And, it's so true that sometimes things don't work out as hoped despite our best efforts. That is just life. There is a quote from John F. Kennedy I really like: "We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes." I remind myself of that when I'm temped not to try for fear of failure. AND I remind myself of it as a parent, because I want to nurture my children's abilities to dream and work towards their goals. They will fail at times, of course. I wish I could always prevent their sweet hearts from breaking, but I don't see that as my job. I think instead that it's my responsibility to show them how to weather those failures and come out stronger.

Wow, I am getting long-winded. LOL But one more thing regarding gratitude... Aby and I both believe very much believe that the ideas of goals and gratitude go hand in hand. Here's an article Aby wrote on the topic:

Thanks again, Angela, for your comments. I enjoyed the discussion!


Thanks for the goal-setting reminder.

I've set goals in some areas of my life, but they're of the more immediate type. You've provided the nudge I need to widen the scope of my goals and dreams and for that, I thank you!

You're a very gifted writer, with an inspiring perspective.

Thanks much for the great article and keep up the good work!


Kate, thanks for taking time to comment and also for your kind words! All the best to you as you work towards those goals and dreams!

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