How did I do with my intention to be playful in 2021?

by | Jan 12, 2022

Darcy Luoma is one of America’s most highly credentialed coaches. She’s worked in 48 industries, with more than 500 organizations, and has impacted tens of thousands of leaders and employees.

Long-time friends of DLCC will know that I set a specific intention for every new year. It’s a practice I first began in 2013 when I started my business. Setting an annual intention gives me the Strength to choose how I direct my energy throughout the year and helps me bring focus to the areas of my life to align with my goals. 

In past years, intentions have included things like vulnerability, minimalism, and sustainability. I like summing up my intention for the year in one word, as that helps me simplify and zoom in on what’s important (plus, it’s easier to remember!). 

My intention for 2021 was playfulness, which would’ve made me smile wryly a few years back. I’ve always been someone who’s taken myself pretty seriously. Historically, I often wanted to project an image of professionalism and competence, complete with the perfect suit, hair, and nails. But in 2021, with two teenage daughters home 24/7 doing virtual school, I figured it was a great time to shake that up a bit and consciously experiment with bringing more playfulness to my life. 

So how did I do?

This post is my way of keeping myself accountable, both to you all and to myself. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly!

What are your New Year’s Resolutions this year? In this video, I show how I set my intention for each new year.


Darcy Luoma (00:01):
Hello and happy new year. It’s Darcy Luoma. And I am excited to start another year of Thoughtfully Fit with you. And I want to let you know how much I appreciate you being on this journey with me. And I thought today what I would share is an update on my annual intention process. And specifically give you a little peek behind the curtain on how I set my yearly intention. Full disclosure, I haven’t set it yet for 2022. It generally takes me a bit of reflection and some time to marinade. And so typically what I will do is in the end of the year, which I did the week between Christmas and New Years, I will reflect on my year and I will actually write out answers to some very intense, specific questions. And that primes the pump then for me to be able to set my intention for the next year.

Darcy Luoma (01:19):
And I try to have my intention be a word. I have found that if it’s simple and it’s a word, it is much easier to remember. And so I started this process in 2013, which is interesting because I started my business in 2013. So January 2nd, I left my job with a with the Senate when Senator Cole retired. On January 3rd, I launched my full-time Darcy Luoma Coaching and Consulting Firm. And every year since then, I have been setting an annual intention. And so I wanted to share with you some of the reflections that I do in case it’s something that you want to, you as a process, to help you set your intention.

Darcy Luoma (02:08):
This is a process that I got from some girlfriends when we were at the Sonora Spa, and I have been sort of evolving it every year to sort of fit my style. And so the first thing that I do is reflect on the past year. I will look at the most profound moments and what those moments are that shaped me. I will highlight the peak experiences that I had in the last year and some of my biggest accomplishments and successes. I also reflect on what my biggest disappointments were and what regrets I had. What do I wish I had done differently? That sometimes is hard to be able to be really brutally honest, to reflect on what didn’t go so well.

Darcy Luoma (03:13):
I reflect on what gave me energy and what depleted my energy and what were the lessons learned. I also look at what are some of the things that didn’t get done that I had intended to do and why they didn’t get done. And then I reflect on my intention and how did I do. When I set my intention, I’ll typically have benchmarks and goals on what would success look like. How will I know if I achieve that? And so then I actually go through each of these and I say, “Did I get it done or did I not get it done?”

Darcy Luoma (04:00):
And then I look at the year ahead and what is it that I want to release in the year ahead. And then what are the core values that I really want to honor in the year ahead? And how do I want to feel throughout the year? And based on how I want to feel, I’ll identify the top priorities and what I want to focus on. And all of that then leads to the final piece, which is to set my annual intention. And so I reflected on all of that last week or week and a half ago over the holidays. And I find that sometimes going through that process, I mean, it’s usually pages and pages of journaling, reflecting on these questions. Sometimes, bam, my intention is just clear as day at the end of that. And then sometimes like this year, it’s not. I have to give it some time to simmer. And that’s what I’m doing now is reflecting on what I want this year to be.

Darcy Luoma (05:22):
So I invite you to take some of that process and that time to reflect for yourself to just identify, how do you want this year to feel? And what’s your intention? What’s your word? And I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to hear what you decide. And as always, I want to leave you with a core workout challenge, which is to pause, to hit the pause button before you go racing into the next year. And take a moment to sit quietly and to think, and to reflect on the past year, the accomplishments and successes, the regrets and disappointments. And then act by setting an intention and identifying what success would look like.

Darcy Luoma (06:15):
And not only can you do this for yourself individually, but you can also do it with your team and within your organization. And this is a lot of the work that we do when we’re working and doing team coaching and team retreats and organization development and consulting is helping a team to be very intentional about how they want to work together, about the culture and the atmosphere that they want. So you can also set a team intention, and if you need some help with that, reach out to us. It’s what we do. And we love what we do. Thank you so much for joining me. Happy, happy new year to you. Here’s to a great year ahead. Take care.

What went well

The area where I was most consistently able to be playful was with my daughters (thanks Josie and Jadyn!). They encouraged me to wear clothes, shoes and nail colors that were more light-hearted, such as garish blue glittery nail polish. They helped me get in the habit of playing more on a frequent basis, like making silly TikTok videos, doing a 5k dog jog, and renting scooters in Denver. So much fun!

In my work, I had the most success when it came to being playful in videos and pictures. Filming Thoughtfully Fit Thursday videos from the top of a mountain in Colorado, after an open-water swim class, while a sweaty mess mountain biking, or driving four-wheelers is something I would’ve never shared publicly in the past.

Something else that I’m proud of is intentionally going running or biking on a route I didn’t know, or even with the specific intention of getting lost and just following my nose. For someone who likes structure, that felt like a big win this year! I plan to continue this practice into 2022.

Some areas were so-so…

Overall, I’m getting better at taking myself less seriously, but I still have a way to go. I had really wanted to embody more of a lighthearted emotional presence this year, but this is still a work in progress. Sometimes I managed to put out more whimsical energy, more often I defaulted to my usual focused, disciplined self. 

I love being playful in coaching sessions with my clients and that comes naturally to me, due to my confidence after decades of training. However, taking a playful approach to keynote speeches isn’t quite as easy. As I’ve gained more experience, I have become more relaxed and spirited, but I still want to get better at this.

As part of my playfulness challenge, I had resolved not to work on the weekends, but found this habit very difficult to break for most of 2021. I’ve been in “productive mode” since the age of 9 or 10, and ever since then it’s been normal for me to work, well… basically all the time. This fall, my team gave me some much-needed pushback and encouraged me to take weekends off, and since then I’ve fallen in love with this extra time for myself and the girls. Here’s to more of that in 2022!

Things that were an epic fail

I loved all of your suggestions for how I could be more playful and was looking forward to trying out many of the ideas. I had particularly wanted to take an improv class or dance lessons. But ultimately, I only accomplished a measly 4 of the 50 playfulness challenges. If Little Miss Perfect Pants had to give me a grade for this, it would be F for fail!

Dating was also a miserable failure this year. I know you suggested I relax my expectations and just say yes to the next person who asked me on a date, but that didn’t happen. I went on only one date in the whole year (a hike at the dog park!).

I think that Covid played a part in making some of these activities harder last year than they would’ve been. That’s especially true for dating and some of the more social activities I had on my list. My mom’s death from cancer in the fall also made it extremely hard to get into a playful mood.

It’ll be interesting to see how I get on with my new intention this year (I’m still in the process of identifying it). I’ll be sure to update you all!

In the meantime, if you want to develop the Strength to make intentional choices for your 2022, try the following core workout:

  • Pause: Take a moment out of your day to sit quietly and reflect.
  • Think: What do you want to focus on right now? What could you consciously choose to do more of in 2022?
  • Act: Take 10 minutes today to do something out of your comfort zone.

Thanks for being on this journey with me and everyone at Darcy Luoma Coaching & Consulting! It’s so rewarding to learn and grow together. Here’s to a great year ahead.


Our Business Operations Specialist, Kara Barnes, recommends Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Do you need a way to bring playfulness, creativity, and lightness into your routines? If so, this is the book for you!