Around the beginning of each year I tend to talk about intentions, a lot.
I’m not a huge believer in resolutions (you can read why here), but the idea of creating an intention for the year has a very different meaning for me. To me, intentions are a shift in your mindset, the overarching structure that you guide your life by. Setting an intention is also not something you can succeed at or fail at, but instead a shift in your way of living.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been bringing up this topic with friends and family, as well as in therapy sessions, asking people what they want their new year intention to be. Some people easily settle on an idea or shift they want for the new year.
For others, however, it’s not so easy.
I’m seeing there is a pattern, too… For many the reason for getting stuck is about fear (of the new, of anything different, of the possibility of failing, of being honest and authentic, of rejection).
Fear. A big fat wall of fear putting up barriers where barriers don’t belong.
If you look at your past, it’s probably easy to see how you got into this mindset that’s guided by fear. Experiencing crappy things in life can make anyone think it’s always going to be like that. Fear takes over in your brain and makes you believe things that aren’t accurate, that it will always be crappy. And, while yes, some people have an unfair share of bad things happen, the fear response is still greater than it needs to be or generalized to areas where it doesn’t belong.
It’s this fear that leads us to get stuck in certain views toward life. You start to believe that *this* is all you are capable of achieving, that you won’t have good things. You lose track of the possibilities out there. You start to believe that *this* is it.
You start to say “no” to things because saying “yes” seems hard, or unattainable, or not possible for some other reason. You stop believing you can try new things or change something that isn’t working. You believe you chose something in the past so you have to stick with it forever. Well this is just plain wrong and self-defeating thinking. It keeps you from trying anything new, from stretching into a different experience, from expanding your horizons.
What are you going to say ‘YES’ to this year?
What if you said yes to your intention for just a moment or a day? Would that make a difference? I’m sure it would, and it would snowball into more moments, hours, and days of embracing your intention.
Because having an intention for your year gives you a touchstone for how to live your life, I think the easiest way to keep this in mind is by simplifying it down into one word.
A friend of mine described her intention for this new year is “slow” …. She wants to be intentionally slow in living her life, savoring each moment, being thoughtful in her choices, only spending time on things she truly values.
My intention this year is “focus”. I want to let go of the excess, not pay attention to the white noise that’s in the background of every moment. I want to be more intentional about who and what I focus my energy upon.
This year I want to start checking off some of my bucket list items (I think it’s about time… these are things I’ve wanted my entire life… so what’s holding me back? It’s really just that I haven’t said ‘yes’ to them before now.) I have some ideas around creating online content for my website and beyond. And I only have two more years until my kiddo is officially an adult. It’s time to focus on things that I find important and worthy of my time.
What is your word of intention for the year?
If you are getting stuck with identifying an intention, here are a few ideas to try on for size:
For me, keeping my intention going for the year can sometimes be a challenge. I have to remind myself and check in with myself pretty frequently asking myself “is this choice I’m making in alignment with my intention?” One way I do this is with visual reminders. Whether it’s writing the word on the top of a page, in my calendar, in an image on the desktop of my electronics, or in a sign on the wall. Yup, I have visual reminders all around my life!
If visual reminders are also your thing, check out this coloring page where you can fill in your intention, color it up bright and bold, and hang as a reminder for yourself.
I hope this New Year is filled with whatever you choose. I hope you live vulnerably, authentically and take chances.
Best Wishes for the New Year!
Adriana Joyner, LMFT, is a Sacramento Area therapist specializing in gender, sexuality, and advocacy for the queer/ LGBT community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway 50 at Sunrise Blvd. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (916) 547-3997 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.