Create Intentions for the New Year

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The New Year, which is really just another day or number, traditionally conjures up the fresh blank page, the new possibilities, the opening for untrodden paths and new directions.  And resolutions.

I don’t know about you, but resolutions give me a visceral lurch.  When I think of resolutions, I think about something immovable, something set in stone – as defined in the online dictionary, “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” Perhaps this is what causes my unease, as it seems to me that in these days of ever-changing circumstances and events, we want to be agile and nimble in our thinking, behaviors, and approach to life. We want to be able not just to roll with the tides, but to surf them too.

So if not through resolutions, how do we create and capture our vision for the year ahead?

With intention.  Intention is defined as “a thing intended; an aim or plan.”  It is derived from the Latin “intentio,” meaning “stretching and purpose.” While the meaning of intention is rooted in an ancient language, it seems that intention is more helpful for our current environment.

What if your vision for the coming year was around stretching and purpose, the why behind the what? 

I personally think it was intention and awareness that was missing for me, for all those years when I pounded out resolutions that left me disappointed in myself if I didn’t achieve them, vaguely satisfied if I did achieve them, or bemused if they did not apply to my life 12 months on (when I reviewed them).

The annual resolutions didn’t seem to allow for the change and flow that is part of every life, whether we like it or not, nor did they necessarily link to meaning and purpose.

For example, a resolution may be, “I will go to the gym 4 times a week”; whereas, an intention may look like, “I commit to my health and well-being this year.”  It may well mean that you do go to the gym 4 times a week, but it allows for so much more, should the gym not work for you. It is not a failed resolution, never to be mentioned again. Rather, it’s an opening to curiosity on how else you can meet the intention – for instance, more sleep, nutritious food, a mindfulness practice, walking in nature, yoga, Zumba, swimming, kick-boxing – and how a new, more aligned goal can be crafted.

So as you think about intentions for the coming year, use an acronym – INTEND. Here are some steps to consider in the process:

In – Create space for some reflection (going “in”), whether it’s a mindful practice, time in nature, writing, or your favorite way to commune with yourself.  You can include a review of what went well that you want to continue, and what you want to leave behind.

Notice – Notice what comes up with curiosity, and play with the possibilities.

Tally – Note down the intentions and associated actions that feel most compelling to you.

Experience – Imagine yourself at the conclusion of the intention, perhaps at the end of 2017, having achieved all you set out to achieve.  Sit with this ideal scenario; experience it in 3D with all your senses.

Name – Now, from a place of clarity on what adds the most meaning to your life and feels the most delicious, name all the intentions and (at least) one to two first steps for each. If it feels like a lot of change at once, then star or number the top priorities, so you are clear on your next steps.

Do – This is the “do the do” part.  Take the actions. Celebrate each step you take.

What are your intentions for 2017?  What actions can you choose to serve those intentions?

Helen Samson Mullen

A Senior Executive Coach at pLink Leadership, Helen Samson Mullen helps her clients utilize what’s best in them to supercharge their opportunities, overcome obstacles, unwind resistance, and increase resilience. An empathetic coach, consultant, wellness strategist, and facilitator, Helen lives in Wilmington, DE, with her husband, two children, and goldendoodle.