As the end of 2017 quickly approaches, we have the special opportunity to set intentions for the new year. Ritualizing or honoring transitions, such as the end of the year and the beginning of 2018, can be powerful and transformative!
These rituals may inspire new layers of processing and reflecting. They may act as an anchor that grounds and steadies, and they may serve as a catalyst for change and transformation.
One ritual that many people are familiar with is New Year’s resolutions. I often hear of resolutions such as “lose 20 pounds”, “start working out more”, “spend less money”, or “read more books.” While many of these resolutions contain ideas that may enhance one’s life, there’s a pressure and expectation that can become rather heavy.
Resolutions are often loaded with “shoulds;” for example, “I should be healthier.” In many cases, resolutions contain a sense of shame, which can’t truly motivate or sustain us long-term. In fact, shame may push us further out of alignment, causing us to feel like a failure. When I set intentions in the past, I experienced a constant sense of not being or doing enough. Does this sound familiar to you?
An alternative ritual that I’d like to suggest today is intention setting. Intentions are lighter in nature. They are about creating a vision for ourselves as we move forward in life. We name it and own it. Intentions focus on committing to the life we each wish to live, asking us to channel energy into an idea of change and transformation that we have for ourselves and our family. When we set intentions, we commit to stepping into the process of growing every day.
The differences may sound quite subtle, but keep reading for ideas on how to set your intentions, and the unique inspiration of a New Year’s Intention is sure to shine through.
7 Ways to Set New Year’s Intentions:
Pick one of these activities or try them all! Many of these activities pair nicely together, so read each one and notice which one(s) you feel called towards.
There are no limits. Get very specific. For example, I want 2018 to look like camping in West Texas, reunions with friends, organic vegetables, and talking with clients on zoom. I want 2018 to sound like lots of laughter, deep conversations, and moments of sweet silence. I want 2018 to feel like joy, warm hugs, peaceful, and adventurous. Hang this chart somewhere you’ll where you’ll see it and refer to it regularly. Consider doing this activity as a family, observing the many different ways each member of the family wants 2018 to be like. Create conversation about these differences, learning from and feeling inspired by one another, and making plans and intentions together. Print your template for this activity here.
2. Pick one word that can be your theme, mantra, and vision for the year.
If you do activity #1, a word may appear in your chart or as you’re crafting the details. A specific word that describes your vision may come up. Or, perhaps you sit in quiet for a few moments and see if a word comes up for you. Examples of themes include joy, peace, abundance, or laughter. Find ways to integrate this theme into your life throughout the year.
Perhaps you sit in meditation each day and use this word as a mantra at the beginning or end of your practice. Maybe you create a piece of artwork with this word prominently displayed and hang it where you’ll interact with it daily. You can select a word together as a family, as well as individual themes for 2018.
3.Burn away the hurts, challenges, and struggles from the last year and use this new energy to commit to your vision for the future. Literally.
You’ll need a fireplace, a flame-proof pot or bowl, or a candle that you are willing to let go of, matches, and small slips of paper. Depending on the age-appropriateness of this activity for your children, consider allowing each family member to write out the parts of their lives, experiences, or negative thoughts that they are ready to let go of.
Allow time to think, reflect, and write. Then give each person the chance to burn these hurts away by tossing the paper into the fire. These slips may be read aloud or kept in silence before they are burned. New life grows out of ashes, so allow time to name (verbally or in writing) your new intentions or mindset for 2018.
4.Have a family-building circle to reflect upon 2017 and name intentions for 2018.
Through this restorative process, each family member has the time and space to explore their visions and goals, while also holding space for the rest of the family. This activity invites connection, trust, and understanding within the family, and each family member will have a chance to envision the 2018 they want and need to create. E-mail me for more information about restorative circles.
5.As a family, create a poster, painting, or table cloth together.
This creation will be a centerpiece, a unifying creation that inspires family life for 2018. Use the theme or words from activities #1-3 as the foundation for this art piece. A table cloth will be a perfect centerpiece for family-building circles (#4) throughout the year!
6.Set one small intention for each of the 12 months. Pick smaller goals or visions to focus on each month. Add these to the family calendar. During each month, give your special attention and focus to your monthly intention. For example, in January the focus may be “rest,” while in April the intention may be “movement,” and in July the goal may be “service.”
7.Set intentions for different aspects of your life. For example, family, personal, work. Or perhaps you’d like to set intentions about how you want to feel in your heart, mind, and body. You might draw ideas from activity #1 to generate these. Then, build intentions that will anchor your in 2018. Write these out as mantras to refer to, tuck them in your wallet, display them on the fridge, or use them in a way that invites you into the creative process daily.
May your intentions for 2018 bring you great peace and joy, and may 2018 be all that you need and want it to be. Share your intentions and ideas for 2018 below so that we can learn from one another, inspire one another, and hold one another accountable.