Looking Ahead — How to Create Your Intentions for the Coming Year 10

I LOVE THIS ARBITRARY DEMARCATION OF TIME — a line on the calendar dividing one year from the next — because it gives all of us excuse and opportunity to reflect on the past while creating intentions for our individual and collective futures. It provides us with a marker, a place in time to benchmark our place and progress in life.

So now, I am looking forward to THIS new year and the many possibilities it brings with it.

Rather than make new year’s resolutions, I prefer to write down my intentions and goals for the coming year. What are the differences between resolutions, intentions and goals?

Resolutions are rules that you set for yourself — a decision to do or not do something, such as: I will not smoke; I will not eat junk food; I will stop yelling at my children; I will join a gym and exercise more. Resolutions are “do or die” propositions to oneself, and they are rarely successful, because they require perfection.

Intentions are general in nature. They are less about actions and more about the quality of what you want your life to be like. Less about doing and more about being. Intentions provide decision-making guidance throughout the year as you respond to life’s events and forge your path through the world. You can set intentions for any aspect of your life.

In this article, I’m going to share with you a process I’ve developed over the last few years for setting and writing down my intention(s) for the coming year.

Goals spring from our intentions. They are specific, measurable, attainable, and action-oriented. Goals are destinations you set for yourself and for which you map out a path to accomplish. I will share my goal-setting process in next week’s article.

There are, of course, many methods to create intentions. The following steps are just the way I go about it, and I hope you find them helpful to your own process.

How to create and write down your intentions:

  1. Open your journal to a fresh page, write down and complete the sentence, “My intentions for the coming year are…”
  2. Relax and take a few deep, slow breaths with your eyes closed. This will help you feel calm and centered and you will be more able to tap into your creative intuition.
  3. Begin by finding a quiet place where you will be undisturbed for 15 to 30 minutes. This doesn’t generally take very long, as all you will be doing is calling up what you already know within yourself.
  4. Write whatever comes to you in the moment. Let the words flow and don’t censor yourself in any way. Explore your feelings about what you want, and write down what you envision for yourself without limitation.
  5. Whenever you feel stuck, begin the sentence again.
  6. Continue writing until you feel a sense of completion.
  7. Then, review what you have written and circle or highlight the key ideas that resonate most deeply for you.
  8. Refine and rewrite your intentions in general form, explaining what you mean for each intention. Do this for one to three areas of focus, no more.

    For example, my intentions for this coming year are to focus on:

    • Balancing the personal and professional, the creative/spiritual and the mundane. By this, I mean to pay attention to my emotions and my inner sense of equilibrium. A feeling of stress warns me that I am pushing myself too much and that I need to make some decisions in order to give myself breathing room — to let things go, to delegate, or to postpone. Restlessness warns me that I am not paying enough attention to my creative being, that I need to spend more time writing creatively, engaged in art, or another form of self-expression. A sense of chaos or disorganization is a sign that I need to pay attention to the mundane, to slow down and do something simple, like cleaning the house or doing the grocery shopping, And, of course, throughout all this, I need to pay attention to my physical being through eating healthy foods and exercising regularly, because health is the foundation for all of the above.
    • Expanding my genuine connections and relationships in all areas of my life. By all areas of my life, I mean personal and professional and even with online social connections. By expanding, I don’t necessarily mean quantity, though that could happen, but to enlarge the quality of my connections with others, to make them more meaningful through being authentic and genuine and thoughtful.
    • Serving others more. By this, I mean asking myself how I can empower or provide more value to others, including you, my readers, students, and friends.
  9. Once you have written your intentions, post them somewhere you will see them on a regular basis. Review and reflect upon them daily. Use them to set your goals and to help you make decisions. Remember, you can always change or refine your intentions as your needs and desires for what you want in your life change.

Though not “required,” it can also help to share your intentions with others. What are your intentions for the coming year, and how can I support you?

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