Last year at this time, I invited you to look back on your year, suggesting that you close the year out to welcome in the new (Looking Back on the Year: What Will You See?).
So this year, let’s look forward, shall we? This may confuse you a bit, with my constant reminders to stay in present moment awareness, to stay mindful. But mindfulness includes using all life experiences to move forward, to plan for the future, while not be attached to the outcome. Sure, you can hope for a particular outcome, you can do the work to attain that outcome, just don’t build your entire life around it, because well, you know, stuff happens.
Hopes, dreams, wishes, prayers, whatever you want to call that particular emotion is powerful. It drives you to action, it helps you to see what is possible. It doesn’t mean that you can control what’s going on around you, or the final outcome. Mindfulness steps in so that you can control your response to that outcome. (The Wisdom of Hope).
New Year’s Resolutions are a long standing tradition at this time of year. But why do so many people, in fact an estimated 88%, fail at keeping their resolutions? There are many reasons – unrealistic goals, too many, not tracking progress for example –yet we still continue the tradition, setting ourselves up for failure.
I challenge that we don’t keep our resolutions because they are just that – resolutions. When we resolve to do something, there’s no why: “I resolve to eat less sugar.” What if, instead, we made New Year’s Intentions: “I intend to improve my health and reduce my blood sugar levels by reducing the amount of sugar that I eat.” See the difference? An intention includes a why and a how. Resolutions are simply statements.
If you feel ready to set some New Year’s Intentions, it starts with becoming really clear on what’s important to you. Both meditation and it’s sibling, journaling can help you with this first step. Here’s what I suggest:
- Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit and connect with your breath. Your mind will begin to quiet.
- Close your eyes and spend a few moments in silence, simply focusing on your breath and coming back to the breath focus as your awareness drifts.
- Now bring to mind a vision of the ideal you, your authentic, highest self. In what ways does this person embody grace and ease. In what ways do they shine?
- How is the world calling to you? How can you live your intended life?
- What is your heart’s intent and how do the two intersect?
- Now see yourself living out a perfect day. What makes this day perfect? Who does it include? How can you bring this into your everyday life?
- Sit in silence with these questions and see what answers come to you.
- When you feel that your meditation is complete, get out your journal and start writing. This may reveal even more than the meditation alone. Use your journal to set tangible intentions by writing them down. Remember to include the what, why and how.
By using this practice to set your intentions for the coming year, you become more aware of what’s important to you. Remember to be kind to yourself, not judgmental. If you don’t reach your intended goals, don’t dwell on it or create any stories around why you didn’t. Just the practice of setting the intentions can be a valuable tool in creating a glorious and mindful life – a “magnificent story.”