The start of a new year is a perfect time to think about the person you want to be and the life you want to live. Whether 2013 was filled with joy, beauty, and fulfillment of your goals or, alternatively, pain, loss and resolutions left unkept, now is the time to reflect and set intentions.
I have written resolutions – and, more recently, new year’s intentions, for as long as I can remember. People so often make light of resolution’s ephemeral nature or, worse, harbor feelings of failure tied to abandoned resolutions. Resolutions are about fixing a personal flaw- and we don’t need to be fixed. Listing a set of quantitative resolutions does not set most people up for success. Intentions, on the other hand, invoke a process and an ongoing effort to live a life on path with your authentic desires.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years.
1. Give yourself time to think about your intentions for 2014
You do not need to wait until you have had your first glass of champagne on the eve of 2014 to think about next year’s intentions. Start now by reflecting and honoring 2013 – whether for the joys it brought or the hardships endured (and the wisdom that come from each) and set the stage to welcome 2014.
2. Think about the person you want to be and the life you want to lead
Try to move away from what you think you should accomplish this year, such as losing 5 pounds, stopping smoking, or exercising 5 days/week. These tend to be on the failed resolution list. And, while these are all excellent goals, the purpose of making intentions is to help you lead a life in line with your core beliefs and passions. Generally, we do want just these goals – we want them because of what we believe we will experience by having them in our life. Craft resolutions that will help you stay on this path.
3. Be playful and appreciate the simple pleasures of life
Think about things that sound fun. One of my patients’ intention for 2014 is to “be more silly”. Her specific desire for “being silly” is to “wear a wig for a day”. A close friend of mine confessed that she is struggling with all of her kids’ structured activities (e.g. ballet, soccer, piano, gymnastics) – her intention is to have more fun and, more specifically, “bring a thermos of hot chocolate, lots of blankets and take the kids to beach this winter.” These are often easily attainable activities that support your intentions.
4. Come up with a list of areas in your life that are important to you
Think about what is important to you. Consider new skills you want to learn, qualities you want to cultivate, and experiences you want to have.
- Personal Growth
With all of this in mind, write your intentions within the categories that resonate with you. This is enough. However, to help with manifesting your stated intentions, write an action step for each intention.
Here are a few new year intentions and action steps I have collected from friends and patients over the years.
- “Be peaceful”. Action step: “practice yoga consistently, get stronger at navasana (boat pose) and create a space to practice at home.”
- “Loving”. Action step, “date night 1x/month with husband”.
- “Experience abundance with money”. Action step: “read a book on investing and make a plan each month on specific ways to increase income”.
- “Continued personal growth”. Action step: learn to spell “restaurant” (this one is mine—it just that word that spell check always gets me on – I put the “u” in front of the “a” every time until I sat down for 5-mintues and really learned how to spell it). Action step: “read a new biography every month”. Action step: “learn to put on false eye lashes”. This was something a friend of mine always wanted to learn – and now she can apply those long lashes whenever she wants.
- “Mindfulness”. Action step: “allow 15-minutes 2x/day with complete uninterrupted time with family. Phones and computers off.” Another action step: “Take 3 breaths before eating to set an intention for the meal- such as eating slowly and mindfully, chewing the food thoroughly or placing the fork down between bites”.
Write down what you truly want, treat the new year as a gift, and have fun.