Every January I look forward to setting intentions for the new year instead of resolutions for myself. The difference in meaning actually makes a big impact in the way I perceive the process. The word intention conjures up feelings of long-term purpose rather than fleeting goals or restrictions, which I think of when I hear resolutions. This helps me approach the process with the aim of deepening my purpose in the context of my whole life. It’s a practice I look forward to each year and one I thought I’d take you along for as I write mine for 2017.
To take inventory of where I am, I always start by reviewing my intentions from the previous year, often pleasantly surprised by how many of them came to be. I truly believe that only when we speak – or in this case, write – our hopes and dreams do we set them free. They become living, breathing entities that the universe can then begin working on on our behalf. Here’s what I wrote last year for 2016:
* Build a Personal Website: Create a place to connect with others through writing and share beauty through design (Progress: Complete)
* Set up Interior Design Firm: Create an LLC for Crystal Palecek Design and set the foundation for pursuing my truest passion (Progress: Complete)
* Buy a House: Have a beautiful home in a beautiful surrounding filled with beautiful things to match the beauty of my spirit (Progress: Will be sharing more on this very soon!)
This year I added a new step next, which I picked up from Marie Forleo here. I wrote down and answered these three things:
- What did I do/create/experience in 2016 that I’m really proud of?
- What mistakes did I make that taught me something? What lessons from them can I leverage?
- What am I willing to get rid of? What resentments/angers/hurts/shames/embarrassments/etc. can I release myself from this year?
This step helps clear the deck from the previous year and open the door to a fresh start in the new one. It also helped me get in the right reflective mindset to really tap into what I’m working towards long term.
From there, I began writing my intentions keeping in mind that my aim in life is to be the highest, truest expression of myself. In fact, I actually write that at the top of my paper as the title for my intentions. Seeing it spelled out so clearly helps keep my focus where I want it to be. Here they are:
My 2017 Intentions: Highest, Truest Expression of Myself
* Cultivate More Peace: Practice releasing into trust and faith each time fear and anxiety presents itself.
Like many people, I struggle with fear and anxiety. But, I’m also a bit of a paradox here because in so many ways I’m absolutely fearless. Move to Italy by myself at the age of 22? No problem! Quit my day job and start my own company at the age of 27? Easy! Follow my career passions without any hesitation or insecurity? Always! But on the other hand, I can be absolutely paralyzed with fear and panic when I have to take an elevator, get my blood pressure checked, or feel a strange sensation in my body. I’ve done a lot of cognitive behavior therapy for this over the years and understand it’s my mind playing tricks on me to perceive danger when there is none. I have great coping mechanisms to get me through these episodes because of all the work I’ve done, but still, I yearn to live with more peace through it all. In my gut, I know that the tipping point is possible through my faith – in practicing that vulnerable feeling of letting go of what’s familiar and safe (which is ironically the fear) and free falling into that scary feeling of trust. I want to approach this challenge by adding more of a spiritual component to its healing going forward.
* Prioritize My Spiritual Practice: Prime each day to the best of my ability with quiet time and prayer.
I feel my best when I carve out a little alone time to read, pray, mediate, or write before my day starts. It has a calming and centering affect that benefits all that I do and all that I am. It’s so tempting to jump right into my day’s to-do list as soon as I wake up, especially since mornings are when I have the most energy, but this year I want to prime my day with the focus and fuel this gives my spirit – a necessary and kind gift I give to myself before I give of myself to others.
* Strengthen My Body: Focus on health and fitness for its healing benefits above all else, noting that my body is intricately connected to my spirit.
For the last several months I’ve experienced my first long-term physical setback: debilitating pregnancy sciatica. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions (maybe one I’ll go deeper into in another post once I’ve come out on the other side) and has taught and continues to teach me so much. Until you can’t use your body the way you used to or need to, it’s almost impossible to understand the emotional challenges you’ll go through. One thing that I have taken away from this already is a new understanding of how closely the body is connected to our emotions and mind and vice versa. I’ve always taken for granted a strong, healthy body but going forward I want to be more intentional and mindful about taking care of it from the inside out.
I find that three overarching intentions is a good digestible amount for me to set for myself each year. The rest usually falls under my monthly to-do list or short-term goals. I also noticed that this year, my intentions are much more focused on personal wellbeing and health, whereas last year was more about getting aligned with my career and professional passions. It’s interesting to see how much this practice reflects where we are in a particular year and what is most important to us at the moment.
What are your hopes and dreams are for 2017? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
Photography: Jonas Berg