New Year’s Resolution?
I’d Rather Set An Intention.
I remember being in elementary school and having to write my resolutions for each new year. I recall a yellow sheet of tablet paper containing the penciled words “keep my room clean.” I made that my new year resolution idea for several years, and decades later I still haven’t kept it. Clearly, I’ve held other priorities.
After so many New Year’s Resolution failures, I stopped trying. I told myself that resolutions were dumb. And a “new year” starts every day, so why should I choose January 1 to make a change in my life?
Indeed, change can happen at any time. Like that night in May when my then-husband suggested we separate. Or that morning in November when I found myself homeless after discovering the infidelity of my long-term partner.
The incident in November was particularly devastating because, unlike my marriage, I’d been pretty happy in that relationship. I spent weeks wallowing, and feeling like I needed to be continuously propped up in order to function throughout the day.
When the end of December rolled around, I’d gotten to the point where I was once again eating and showering without forcing myself to do so. And I was ready to make a change.
But I wasn’t about to make a resolution. Resolutions are strong commitments, which can be especially hard to keep when you’re going through a breakup or divorce. I didn’t want to position myself in such a way that I could “fail.” That would just be another unnecessary blow to my ego.
And so I settled on the idea of setting a Word of Intention for the year. Even the word “intention” itself feels kinder and gentler than a “resolution.” Intentions permit a little bit of backsliding on occasion. And by choosing a Word of Intention, I allowed for an openness in interpretation and application.
The word I chose that year was “nourish.” Because that was what I needed most. I needed nourishment for myself, my life, and my relationships. By keeping that in mind, I was able to make healthier choices for myself in what I ate, how I spent my time, and where I set my boundaries.
As I nourished myself and began to feel stronger, I was able to focus more of my attention outside of myself. I looked for ways to nourish other people and things around me. At the end of the year, my reflection on my word and my journey felt good. I decided that I liked the practice and would do it again.
If you’re facing the new year and wondering how you might begin again and create change in a way that’s gentle and compassionate towards yourself, consider choosing a Word of Intention. Here are some hints to help you choose the right word for you:
- Consider your personal values.
- Think about what you’d like to manifest more of.
- Take some time to get quiet and ask yourself what you need.
- Contemplate the application of the words that come to you.
- Choose a word that’s not only aspirational, but one that resonates with you in the current moment. For instance, the word “love” might be a painful trigger, so “care” could be more appropriate.
Once you’ve chosen your word, it can be easy to forget about it if you aren’t careful. Following are a few tips to help you keep your intention top-of-mind:
- Hold a little ceremony to officially dedicate your intention for the year.
- Write the word and place it where you’ll see it: the bathroom mirror, the refrigerator, in your car, or a sacred meditation space.
- Dedicate some regularly-scheduled time to journal about your intention and reflect on your progress.
- Tell a friend and request that they occasionally ask you how you’re doing with your intention.
However you choose to recognize this new beginning and nurture your personal evolution, I wish you the best in the new year. Take care of yourself, and smile to the world.