Guest Blog: How Setting an Intention Can Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet
The end of the year is a natural time to reflect on last year and make plans for the year ahead. Oftentimes this means getting overly excited about new resolutions. You swear this year will be different:
- You’ll work out 4 days a week.
- You’ll finally lose that extra 10 pounds you’ve been wanting to shed.
- You’ll stand up to your boss and ask for that promotion you deserve.
- You’ll finally put an end to that toxic relationship.
- You’ll read 2 books a month.
- And you swear – no more taking the phone to bed.
But inevitably, a few weeks in and things start to slide. Real life creeps back in and old habits do die hard. New Years Resolutions may work for some, but I too often hear stories of how the majority of people forget their entire list of resolutions by the start of February.
Instead of creating a laundry list of all the idealistic things you’d like to do and change in your life, I encourage you to try something new this year. Set an intention for 2017. There are no hard and fast rules for creating this intention, so explore, read, talk to others, get inspired, but most importantly, make it your own. Maybe you decide on a single word, or maybe it’s a phrase. Whichever you choose is right, the only requirement is that it speaks to your soul. It should stir something within you and incite curiosity, action, and a willingness to explore.
Deciding on your intention is the first step. But the real work begins with these next steps to ensure that you protect it and carry this intention with you for the entire year.
1. What is it that you really want? More importantly, how do you want to feel?
If you succeed in living your intention, what are you hoping is the result? As Danielle LaPorte says, “Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have.”
I truly believe that this is why many New Years Resolutions are never kept because we don’t typically take the time to understand what is at the root of those goals. Having clarity around how we want to feel will ensure that the goals and intentions we set are centered around the result we seek, and that is most important. Goals are meant to help us get from Point A to Point B, but if we don’t know what we are expecting once we reach Point B, then how can we effectively set a path to get us there?
Now is the time to put your intention to the test. Does it support you in your pursuit of how you want to feel? If not, how can you alter it so that it supports this vision?
In order to make room for the things that you do want in your life, you have to get rid of the things that are standing in their way. Sometimes this means purging your life of material things, maybe it’s a bad habit of negative self-talk, or it could even mean putting an end to a relationship. But how do you know what needs to be purged?
Take a few days to go inward and be really introspective. Notice how you feel when you walk into your home; does your mood change as you walk from room to room? If you feel lighter and happier in a space that is more clean, then notice and acknowledge that. How do you feel after interacting with certain people? Are you depleted or replenished? Make note of all of these feelings. Become attuned to the patterns that are emerging, and you’ll know when it’s time to clean up your bedroom to give you the peace of mind to truly have a good night’s sleep. You’ll also know when to say no to those people who don’t fuel your spirit.
3. Set boundaries.
Personally, this one is the hardest for me, and I’m continually working on it. As I establish more boundaries, I understand how incredibly important they are. Brené Brown said it best in Rising Strong, “The most compassionate people also have the most well-defined and well-respected boundaries.”
That sentiment felt so counter-intuitive to me for a long time. In order to better serve others, I have to focus more on my self-care? But it’s miraculous how making small, non-negotiable decisions can lead to a much larger ripple effect. Saying no will set you free. Establishing a time of day that is just for you will keep you grounded no matter what the day throws at you. Many people do this by creating a morning routine, but if that sounds daunting with your current schedule & workload, simply try a breathing or meditating exercise for 3 minutes to start. Try it at different times to find a pattern that you can stick to. Maybe it’s 3 minutes before you get out of bed, or maybe it’s in the car before you walk into the office. Again, there is no right or wrong way to do this, but find that sacred time that is just for you.
Although I do think that having dedicate you-time is critical, there are many other ways to establish boundaries. Take the time now to think about your intention – what boundaries will you set to protect it this year? Because at the end of the day, if you are not taking care of yourself, how can you possibly serve others?
4. Schedule routine check-ins.
Regardless of where this next year will take you, make your future self proud by scheduling in routine check-ins to ensure you’re staying on track to live your intention this year. Take out your planner, open up iCal, or turn to whichever tool you use for your schedule. Ideally you’ll have a weekly check-in, but if that seems unreasonable, at least mark one day every month where you take time for yourself to review your progress. If you’ve fallen off the wagon at any point – hop right back on! Don’t wallow in regret for time lost; it’s more important that you pick up where you left off and keep moving forward.
5. Celebrate all of your successes.
Lastly, take a few minutes right now to think about how you’ll celebrate each time you live your intention. Get specific, and have fun with it! Let’s say your intention for the year is to BE PRESENT. When you spend the entire work day fully engaged in your meetings and don’t check your phone once in the conference room, sneak out 5 minutes early! When you go out on a date with your loved one and truly focus on one other, and don’t let conversation slide into hashing out tomorrow’s chores, treat you two to dessert!
Also, not every reward has to have a monetary component. Oftentimes, the best reward for abiding by your intention and sticking to your boundaries is simply recognizing it and treating yourself to some positive self-talk. We can be so incredibly hard on ourselves and negative inside our own heads, so let’s work on changing that inner dialogue to something much more positive.
When we live with intention, we have fewer resentments, and we start leading happier and more purposeful lives. When we begin to love and respect ourselves and our time, others will follow our lead. And ultimately, when we’re happier and healthier, it’s unavoidably contagious.
About the Author:
Maggie Gentry provides thought partnership & marketing strategy to creative entrepreneurs through one-on-one engagements and through her Own Your Why, in-person intensives & online group series. Her approach blends certain aspects of business coaching and marketing consulting that allows her to work with each client to establish goals, develop a marketing plan and implement those strategies so that it frees you up to do more of what you do best. Her next intensives will be February 25, April 22, and June 3 - head here for more info and to save your seat.