Any day can be a fresh start, but there is something special about a new year that provides that extra nudge saying, "Hey, there is no time like the present. Go for it."
We invest a lot of time and thought planning for a new year, but how much of this time amidst the chaos of making plans and running around checking off lists do we truly spend mindfully reflecting on, finding gratitude for, and making peace with the year that is about to close?
While I am not a big advocate for dwelling on the past, a lot can be learned from it and therefore, instead of making New Year's Resolutions, I prefer to set intentions for how I want to live the upcoming year not so much what I want to do or accomplish.
Our minds are constantly bombarded with the task (or privilege, depending on how you look at it) of making decisions. The average person makes about 35,000 choices daily which comes out to approximately 12,775,000 decisions per year. Now, think about how many decisions you make without a plan or even thinking.
Intentions jumpstart the process of aligning yourself with what you desire to be, learn, do, feel and/or experience. Being intentional allows us to be more confident in our actions without feeling as impulsive or lacking direction. I am a rather impulsive person, so if I am not setting intentions, things can go a little haywire.
I want to be clear that setting an intention is not the same as making a resolution. Intentions typically are less specific and less rigid than goal-setting. I prefer intentions over resolutions because when we set rigid, larger than life expectations, we can easily become overwhelmed which can lead to discouragement and self doubt. If we approach something with more doubt or dread than excitement and hope, we are already starting out on the wrong foot. Look at an intention as the foundation towards building greatness. The simple switch of perspective will change your entire path and outcome!
Reflection is a key component to setting an intention and essential in the processes of learning, growing and self improving. Therefore, before you set an intention, I want you to grab a journal or notebook, find a quiet place (or plug in headphones with some zen, chill music) and jot down what stands out to you most in 2019. What propelled you forward and what held you back? Try to keep your focus on what you want to cultivate more of and determine how you can let go of what held you back, i.e. relationships, jobs, distractions, technology, etc. Then, make a special note of all the events and experiences you found to be enriching, the ones you want to cultivate more of in the New Year ahead.
Take time to acknowledge all that you learned in this past year and how far you have come. Celebrate your achievements, times of growth and positive experiences making sure to take time to feel grateful for it all.
This could be special trips you took to visit old friends, the moments your courage outweighed your self doubt for a split second and you listened to it and proved yourself wrong for the better, or the healthier lifestyle changes you made that truy made a difference in how you see yourself and the world around you. It can even be a tough battle you fought (or are still fighting) that you never thought you could overcome, but ended up turning out to be much better than anticipated thanks to your determination and unwillingness to give up.
As we work towards change and try to learn from our past, we develop a greater sense of self confidence. We learn to trust our own decision-making skills as well as the process. With experience comes confidence, and with confidence comes courage. Courage to ask for what you want, to say no, to stand up for yourself, to reach out for help, to put yourself out there, and to allow your true colors to shine so others can know all that you have to offer to this world.
We often forget that we don’t need all of the pieces to start. We really just need to start! If we waited for everything to fall into place before we started anything, we would never accomplish anything.
Plans are great, but focus too much on the master plan versus the steps along the way, and you could miss some unforeseen alternate paths of opportunity that hold something greater than you could ever dream of for yourself. Keep the focus forward, and trust that all will fall into place as it should, when it should.
My hope for all of you is that you will choose to reflect, hang onto the good times and shake off whatever it was that held you back. Learn from your errors, misjudgments and be better because of it. Give yourself credit for all the good you brought to this world. It’s important to acknowledge your good. And if you still feel like this wasn’t your year, remember this: we all have good and bad times. Your attitude will help you overcome anything, and good times do lie ahead for you.