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 the 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 a resolution’s ephemeral nature or, worse, harbor feelings of failure tied to abandoned resolutions. Resolutions seem more about fixing a personal flaw – But we don’t need to be fixed. Rotely listing sets of resolutions does not set most people up for success. Intentions, on the other hand, invoke a continual process and an ongoing pursuit of life. Intentions compliment and support our authentic desires. Where writing resolutions feels tedious, setting intentions feel exciting and rewarding.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years.
- 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 prepare yourself to welcome 2014.
- 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 a 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. While we want to accomplish these goals, we also want the experiences and the positive changes we believe will accompany them. So if you’re used to writing these statements, take it a step further and ask yourself what you will experience, for instance, by loosing 5 pounds or increasing exercise. Craft resolutions that will help you stay on this path.
- Be playful and appreciate the simple pleasures of life
Think about things that sound fun. One of my patients’ intentions for 2014 is to be “more silly and less stuffy”. Her specific action step for being silly is to “wear a wig for a day” and “laugh more”. 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 with family” and, more specifically, “bring a thermos of hot chocolate, lots of blankets and take the kids to beach this winter.” Some of the simplest activities can be completed in a single afternoon and will support an intention.
- 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, build your intentions out of the categories that resonate the most with you. Though simply thinking through these things can be enough, writing an action step for each intention can really help the manifestation process.
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 was just that word that spell check always got 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.