Forget Resolutions – How to Set Positive Intentions for the New Year – A Step by Step Guide
The start of a new year inspires feelings of hope, possibility and enthusiasm for what is possible, what is to come.
But many times this feeling is fast fleeting after a couple weeks into the New Year. Resolutions get forgotten, and we are right back to the grind. The dreams that seemed possible are once again put back on the shelf.
You might be wondering: is there a way to make change stick? How do you do it? Are resolutions really the answer?
This used to be me too! I would make the usual list of losing weight, eating healthier, learning to swim, and a few other resolutions that seemed like a good idea. Then I would go to the gym those first few weeks, skip the chocolate for dessert, take a swimming lesson, and feel that I was on my way to making this year’s resolutions a reality.
A couple weeks into it however, and I would start going to the gym less and less, reintroducing that chocolate a few times a week, and skipping the swim lessons altogether. Next thing I knew, I was right back to where I started.
I would then feel guilty about it, which means I would also be punishing myself for my lack of action. Trust me, this is not the way to achieve your goals!
I figured there was something I needed to do, to understand, in order to change my outcome, if this is something I really wanted to change in my life. Then it hit me: did I really want to change this in my life? Was I just creating a list of things that I thought I needed, but that deep inside I had no intention to change? I had to become deeply honest with myself and figure out what I really wanted so I could focus on it and make it happen!
I decided to no longer create resolutions, but instead set positive intentions for the New Year. So what do I mean by that? I focused inward to find the answers of what I truly needed at that time in my life. What kind of changes could I benefit from by implementing them today? What was my body and soul craving?
This past year I was able to realize most of my intentions, and others are in the making! I attribute this to my focus to really listen to myself. But I want you to know that even though I knew what I needed, I didn’t necessarily know how it would happen, or how I could achieve that intention. The good news is that you don’t need to know this either. The universe has a way of answering our requests, and I am positive that they will show up for you too!
So without further ado, here are a few of the exercises I did, and some new ones I will be trying this year! You can pick one of them or all of them, depending on how they speak to you. Either way, you won’t be disappointed for spending this time creating real intentions rather than resolutions.
Step 1: Do this on New Year’s Eve
I love doing these exercises on New Year’s Eve because let’s face it, I’m not going anywhere when I have a toddler asleep in the next room! But this is such a great way to end the year and welcome the new. Set the mood: sit on your favorite spot in the house, light some candles, grab a beverage of choice. Music can be a nice addition, and it should match your mood!
Step 2: Have your Supplies Ready
If you plan to do all the activities you will need:
- A journal
- Small pieces of paper or post it notes
- A pretty jar
- Letter paper and envelopes to match
- Bonus: if you are crafty you can bring things like stickers, pens and markers in different colors, etc. whatever speaks to you
When selecting these items, pick the ones that you truly love! Purchase new ones if you’d like, or use things around the house that might be used for a different purpose. For instance, my “pretty jar” is actually a ceramic flower vase.
Step 3: Set your Intention
Now that you are ready, it’s time to find out what you really want!
Take a seat in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Take 4 deep breaths and focus on each breath, counting to 8 for each inhalation and exhalation. This will help you calm your mind (even if you have loud music playing in the background!) and get you to focus on your intentions.
Pay attention to what you are feeling. Do you feel light? Sad? Happy? Where are these sensations in your body? Don’t judge what you feel, just let it be.
Step 4: Pick your Activity
When you are ready, open your eyes and do one of the activities below, whichever one you feel called to do. You can do all of them as I mentioned, or do the one that compels you the most
Now for the Activities
Activity 1: Find your Word
This exercise is about coming up with a word that will guide you in 2017 when you need a little reminder to stay on the track of your dreams. It can be a word, or a short phrase, but something simple that only you know the meaning.
For example, in 2016 my word was surrender. It was related to my need of controlling every situation and just surrending to what is instead.
Anytime I felt frustrated and I realized I was trying to control a situation beyond what I could do, I would remind myself of my word and it would put me back on track.
So here’s what you do: grab your journal and pen and write down some of the feelings you experienced in Step 3. Is there a theme? Can you name your intention with one word or one short phrase?
Don’t over think this. In fact, don’t think at all, write down what your heart is telling you. Usually the first thing that comes to mind is exactly what you need!
Activity 2: Write a Letter to your Future Self
I personally love this exercise because it’s all about positive thoughts! I first heard about it from a workshop from life coach Amber Lilyestrom, and I added a little twist to it after reading a blog post from another coach (Tonya Leigh).
Grab your pen, letter paper and envelopes. You are writing this letter to your future self, and you will open it on December 31, 2017! Address it to yourself, and include in the letter what you want to celebrate from 2016. It’s ok to brag!
Then write what you would like to be celebrating in 2017 at this time of year. It will be so much fun to see how many things came to fruition, and how much you’ve grown as a person.
Activity 3: The Dream Jar
This is another super fun activity that will get your creative juices flowing! I heard about this activity from Carrie Green of the Female Entrepreneur Association. You can use this activity for anything you want to achieve, let it be in your personal life or business.
Just remember that this is called a dream jar for a reason. Be sure to put things in there that might even make you feel silly for writing it out, that you can’t even fathom how it could possibly come true.
But that’s the whole point! It’s about dreaming, and dreaming big. You never know if these things will come your way somehow!
Just to give you an idea, one of my “silly” dreams is to meet and sing a song with Peter Cetera on my 40th birthday. I mean, I can’t even sing and I don’t know how this could ever happen, but I just think it would be so cool if it did! And so it’s going in my dream jar!
After you fill your jar with all kinds of dreams, make it part of your routine to grab one of them each day at random and focus on it. I will plan to do this before meditating at night. Then read your dream and imagine what it would feel like to be doing that activity.
Who will be there with you? How do you feel when you are doing this activity? Really feel this energy! Then put it back in the jar when done.
I also like that these dreams can help us take action.
For instance, I plan to take singing lessons, which will make my dream more of a feasible reality (ha!). However, I might not have thought about taking singing lessons this year if I had not put down this dream on paper.
I hope you enjoy these activities! As always, I love to hear from you – please leave a comment or send me an email. I would love to help make your motherhood journey everything you want it to be!