Setting an intention might feel kind of strange at first, but practicing intentional self-reflection can help the process. Every year, just before New Year’s, many of us take the time to reflect on the past year and create resolutions for the year ahead. Although this is a great practice for the anticipation of the new calendar year, it’s completely appropriate to do on a birthday or any day really! Since journaling is such an impactful practice, and many people ask me for guidance on it, here is a step-by-step description of a writing activity for developing an intention for the year to come. Starting NOW.
You’ll need your journal or 3 pieces of paper, a sticky note, and a pen.
It’s okay to skip this part, but if you keep a calendar or appointment book, a brief skim can jog our memory as to how much has passed this year. Light a candle, and get comfortable. Let your breath deepen and relax as you slide into the present moment. Find a comfy and quiet spot and set aside 20–30 minutes.
Reflect on the last year and use the first piece of paper to write what you’re leaving behind.
Title: What I'm Leaving Behind.
What are you so-done with? What will not survive the strike of midnight? Explore the facets of your life. Home, work, your practice, relationships, (might need more paper!) health, behaviors. Then get into the feelings. List your done-with fears, doubts, hesitations, negativity, and grudges… What do you resist?
No, this is not like a Facebook post, where most of us try to express a filtered version of ourselves. This is between you, and you, so be a true story to yourself here.. and keep writing… Where are you kidding yourself? Have you hurt anyone? Has anyone hurt you? Apologize. Forgive. Make your peace. List your disappointments, and how you’ve disappointed others. Get it all out.
On the second piece of paper, write what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown in the last year.
Title: How I've Grown and What I've Accomplished.
What were the high points, peak moments, sweet and bittersweet memories? Take some time with this. Squeeze the juice out. It's easy to remember the hard stuff, but what do you have to be grateful for?
On the third piece of paper, write how you’ll be happy and healthy in the year ahead.
Title: I am Happy and Healthy.
What will you do? How will you feel? How will you take care of yourself? Go into grave detail here about not only the results but the day to day life you will be living. Write about not only arriving at your destination but what the journey will look like.
After you write this, visualize it for awhile... sip some coffee or tea, and allow yourself to feel the feelings in your body when you visualize your ideal life. Let your shoulders relax and your heart open up. Continue to breathe deeply before continuing.
Choose a word or phrase that sums this all up and take that on as your mantra for the year and the intention you carry with you.
Example: "Strength", "Courage", "I am deeply satisfied", "Be Present".... Find the word or phrase that when you read it, it reminds you of the ideal life that you so lovingly visualized for yourself. Let the word you choose have impact when you see it. Write your intention on the sticky note and stick it somewhere you’ll see it daily. Read it. Repeat it. Often.
Thank you so much for reading. I'd love to hear the intentions you came up with! If you're having trouble identifying what it is you want and would like some support and clarity, send me an email. I'd love to help you find it.