Almost as soon as the ball drops, I can feel the itch to pull out my planner and set resolutions to make the most of my new year. And inevitably, my well-meant resolutions fall apart by February 1st. We all know how to set goals, but when we make sweeping resolutions about what we’ll change or how we’ll grow, it’s usually out of a place of lack or shame: “I have to get serious about my finances this year because I’m broke,” or, “I really need to lose weight so I can finally find a good partner.”
As important as these resolutions might be, they often meet the shiny newness of January with the weight of “should” rather than the excitement of “want”. So over the past few years, instead of resolutions I’ve created intentions —
One word to embody that feels like an opportunity, not an anchor.
In 2016, it was “sovereignty”; 2017, “wholeness”; and this year, “true”. One-word intentions work because they take away the “shoulds”, and allow you to focus on what you desire to come into deeper connection with, rather than fixing what’s wrong or broken about you.
Here’s how to set a one-word intention as a theme for your new year:
1. First, grab a notebook and something to write with. Turn to a clean page and draw three columns: mental, physical, and spiritual.
2. For each of the columns, make a list of how you want to feel in each realm in 2018. For example, in the mental realm, you might want to feel a sense of clarity. For the spiritual realm, a word that consistently comes up for me is “still” or “stillness”.
The point isn’t to get it perfect or right — it’s simply to unlock the creative parts of you that operate outside the “shoulds”.
3. Set a timer for 10 minutes and use the follow questions as a brainstorming guide. Jot down whatever comes to mind without censoring yourself.
Mental: What do I desire more clarity on? How do I want to feel in my work and my creativity? What do I want to learn and explore in 2018? Where do I want to focus my thoughts?
Physical: How do I want to feel in my body? How do I want to feel about my health? About my bank account? What do I want to experience in my home or physical space?
Spiritual: How do I want to feel in terms of connection to myself, others, and my higher power?
4. Next, take a step back and look for patterns in what you’ve written. What words are repeated? What words immediately jump out at you as important and resonant? When you have a sense of what these key words are, underline three of the words that you connect with most.
5. Of these three, consider each word and circle the one that you most want to embody in 2018. If you’re unsure of which word to choose, consider this:
What do you want to stand for this year?
What do you want to be known for this year?
What feels most timely for the challenges you’re facing?
What would expand you most?
What contains the essence of pure possibility and is devoid of any punishing “shoulds”?
Because this is an intention and not a resolution, you can’t choose wrong or mess it up, so be gentle with yourself and go with your gut.
6. Finally, choose a way to bring your intention to life. You can get crafty with this and create a small vision board for your word, or you can keep it simple, like writing your word on a post-it note and taping it to your desk or bathroom mirror. Personally, I’ve cleared a small place on my desk for my word, “true”, and added several small objects that remind me of what truth is to me and why it’s important for me to embody this year. However you choose to bring your word to life is the right choice for you. The goal is simply to place it in an area where you’ll be able to connect with it frequently as a reminder.
Goals are meant to be achieved and conquered, but these one-word themes are meant to be savored.
With these intentions, our goal isn’t improvement so much as expansion. You’re not conquering your word in the new year, you’re living in devotion to it, and in doing so, creating the exact experiences you want in the new year.
Photos by: Eileen Roche