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How are you setting your intentions for this new year?

Setting New Year intentions

Do you have New Year’s resolutions? Have you set yourself some goals for 2020 yet? We all want the year ahead to be a great one for us and it’s easy to get caught up in ideas about what we want to achieve; often coming to the end of the year kicking ourselves for not reaching our goals. Or maybe we do achieve what we set out to –we get that new job, qualification, weight loss or whatever it is for us- and we still don’t feel good. Or perhaps we’ve abandoned the idea of goal setting altogether, and we’re not clear on where we want to go or how we want to grow.

The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that often they’re based on an idea in our head about what will make us happy, or what we think we should be doing more of. This can easily mean that our heart isn’t in it. We might start out with great plans, and then we’re back to old habits by February. Many of us even feel internal resistance to the idea of creating New Year’s Resolutions or even goals. “I once made a New Years resolution not to make New Years Resolutions; they’re just another thing to fail at” one guy told me this year, “…but I’ve kept that one!” So is there a better way?

Leading with your heart

Without a doubt, the best way to make changes in life is to start with heart. Getting clear on what you truly want and why. Knowing what’s important to you. The whole reason for making a change. And then intentionally moving towards this. When we forget to check in with our own heart, we chase goals that aren’t meaningful to us. We might climb the ladder, but we get to the top and wonder if this was really our ladder to climb at all.

So forget everything you think you should be doing for a moment and allow your awareness to drop into your body. Because the answers you’re really looking for right now don’t come from the thinking in your head; they come from the wisdom within your heart. Danielle LaPorte advocates creating ‘goals with soul’ by starting with your core desired feelings, and she brings this practice to life with her Desire Map, which is worth checking out if you’d like to dig into this process more deeply with her guidance.

How do you want to feel…?

Take some time to quietly reflect on this. You might like to close your eyes, breathe into your heart space and ask yourself… “What would you like to feel more of?” “How do you feel when you’re at your best?” You might prefer to print a list of feelings and then mark the ones you’re drawn to (if you choose this way, move very quickly to go with your instincts without thought taking over). Then jot down the most important feelings that come up for you. “I want to feel…”

Make sure that these are things you have the ability to create for yourself. For example, “I want to feel appreciated” would be dependent on someone else, but you may decide that you “want to feel appreciating” which you can absolutely achieve for yourself, and that would set your filters to better notice appreciation in others too.

If you end up with a big list then you’ll want to narrow that down to four or five at the most to help you really focus on what’s most important for you now. You might find that you have one word that sums up another one or two, so you don’t need the others. Or you might find that you need to feel one thing in order for another feeling to emerge. I went with ‘energised’ over ‘alive’ and ‘light-hearted’ when I was setting my intentions for this year.

What do you intend to do to feel this way?

Now it’s time to get thinking. Take each of those feelings individually and ask yourself, what can you do in your life that will create more of this? Let’s use my intentions as an example. My second chosen feeling was ‘healthy’.

So, because I want to feel healthy, I want to:

  • Work from a desk to look after my spine
  • Plan and cook healthy meals
  • Go to a yoga class, run 5k and take walks by the sea/lake every week
  • Finish work by 5:30pm so that I can cook, exercise, stretch and read (bringing a little more self-care into every day)

These are tiny tweaks to the way that I’ve been living; placing my focus on what I want for myself, rather than what I am in the habit of doing. Some of these actions even tie in with other feelings I want to feel – you can see how they might link with feeling ‘energised’ too.

It is true that these action steps might look similar if I were trying to achieve a goal of ‘weight loss’ but I’d be coming at it from a very different place. Think about it… “I want to lose weight so I’m going to exercise regularly” is very different to “I want to feel healthy and energised, so I’m going to do yoga, park run and walk by the sea every week”. “I want to lose weight” is a negative goal – it’s moving away from something. We are all much more motivated when we have something to move towards, like “I want to feel healthy”. And it’s so much better when it’s something that you really want in your heart! So what does your heart most desire? And how are you going to bring that to life this year?

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