by Andrea Lamanto
The end of a year is a natural time for reflection, for reviewing our challenges and our growth, but also for articulating how we want to shape our future.
There is a difference between the ways we tend to approach this. We may focus on goals, on what we want to do or accomplish in the year ahead (learning a new language, or how to cook healthy meals). Sometimes we frame these as resolutions to not do something (to limit our drinking or disengage from a toxic relationship), to fix or correct a behavior.
One other, and perhaps deeper, lens on this practice is that of setting intentions. In this context, an intention is something more internal, speaks to inner qualities we wish to seed and cultivate. This framing gives us space to acknowledge our innate wholeness and the ongoing process of transformation that we live in.
This is the foundation from which all other real change happens.
Intention Setting: practices & ritual for the New Year
Intention setting begins with self-inquiry, with practices that allow us to access our inner knowing.
This can be as simple or involved as you wish it to be. Here are a few suggestions for preparing yourself, and your space, for clarity and presence.
- Sweep every corner of your home (moving through in a counter-clockwise direction supports the banishing of old energy). You can also add a bright essential oil (such as bergamot) to mop water.
- Take a white bath as another gesture of energetic cleansing – add coconut milk and white flowers to the water, burn a white candle and coconut incense. Visualize going down the drain all that does not serve your highest good.
- Consider spending New Year’s Eve in silent meditation.
- Get out your journal, take some slow, deep breaths, and begin with any (or all) of the writing prompts below.
Self-reflection: past, present & future
- Take a look at the year behind you. Note the challenges faced and inspirations materialized. What capacities did you discover? What choices did you make that either disconnected you from yourself, or brought healing? Offer gratitude for the lessons that have tempered, deepened, you.
- Look at yourself in this moment. Reflect on what actually matters to you. What brings you joy? What feels meaningful? Where do you come alive? For example, does it lie in creative expression? Engagement in community? In your ability to be present to whatever is? In being in right relationship with the natural world?
- Look ahead. What are the intentions that resonate most strongly for you in the year ahead? Do you want to develop trust in your intuition? Release scarcity mentality and allow abundance? Appreciate your body for the beautiful wonder it is?
- Choose just a few intentions so that you can offer enough attention to each. Imagine each one existing fully, in all its sensory detail. Craft a short sentence for each as a present time reality, a constructive statement that excites you to action (“I am building a healthier, more loving, relationship with my body, learning to listen to its needs and nourish my resilience and vitality”).
- List the concrete actions you can take towards manifesting each intention (and consider which choices take you further away). You also may want to make a vision board, collaging images and words that bring your intentions to life, keep you connected to the meaning they hold for you, and to your own commitment to this process.
As you move into the New Year, make it a weekly practice to check in with yourself and your intentions.
- Note wherever you have moved in the direction of your intentions and where you’ve dropped the thread.
- Be gentle, yet accountable, to yourself.
- Celebrate your accomplishments.
- Become aware of the self-limiting beliefs and behaviors you engage in; experiment with interrupting them.
- Recognize when you need a dose of play or refreshed inspiration to reconnect you to yourself and the journey you’ve laid out.