As the new year begins, many of us feel inspired to reflect on the past year and create opportunities for growth and expansion. In 2024, I encourage you to consider intention setting instead of traditional New Year's Resolutions. Intentions provide room for flexibility, authenticity, and sustainable personal growth. Often, we tend to abandon our resolutions in January, burdened by perceived failure or pressure to achieve, which can lead to feelings of shame, criticism, and doubt. On the other hand, intentions serve as the foundation of resolutions and offer a more personalized approach, whether they are small and specific or grand and ambitious. Intentions empower you to make consistent decisions aligned with your core values.
For instance, if your goal is to cultivate mindfulness, you might set the intention: "I intend to be fully present in each moment." Achieving this intention involves practices like slowing down, engaging in mindfulness exercises, and enhancing self-awareness. You can strengthen this intention with an affirmation: "I deserve to savor every moment and appreciate my surroundings." However, if this intention feels too abstract, you can opt for something more tangible: "I intend to make wise investments in 2024 – in my relationships, time, emotions, and finances."
Before setting intentions, it's essential to create space for reflection. Consider addressing the following prompts by Suleika Jaouad:
What are you proud of from the past year?
What are your unfulfilled desires from last year?
What causes you anxiety?
What resources, skills, and practices can support you in the upcoming year?
What are your most ambitious dreams and ideas for the year ahead?
Through reflection, you gain clarity about whether you're moving closer to or further away from your core values. As you reflect, you may identify recurring values you want to prioritize, such as kindness, honesty, boldness, wellness, appreciation, or fulfillment. If your aim is to improve your diet in the coming year, your intention might be: "I intend to nourish my body and meet its needs." This intention guides you toward choices that align with your wellness goals. To further connect with your intentions, consider visualizing and embodying these values. Imagine what your life will look like when you consistently prioritize your well-being or practice honesty and presence. Reflect on past achievements and envision their impact.
Here are some methods to help you visualize your intentions:
Write down intentions or affirmations on sticky notes.
Set them as backgrounds on your electronic devices.
Create a vision board representing your intentions.
Sketch a life driven by your intentions.
Once you've visualized and embodied your intentions, it's essential to honor them with small rituals. Rituals and ceremonies mark transitions and prepare us to act in alignment with our values. Rituals can be as elaborate or private as you prefer, and it's beneficial to involve an accountability partner who shares your values or supports your journey. You can set intentions as frequently as monthly, seasonally, or every six months, adjusting the frequency to suit your needs. Intentions are adaptable and flexible, evolving with your changing life circumstances. Don't forget to celebrate your progress when you align with your values and intentions! Often, we underestimate the power of consistent small changes, which can have a lasting impact. Approach setting intentions with self-compassion and patience.