Happy New Year! Time for a fresh start, a clean slate. And don’t we all need one after this last tumultuous year? This is when many of us make resolutions for the coming year—to exercise more, to lose weight, to be more patient. And while these may be worthy goals, they can also leave us feeling guilty and ashamed in a few weeks or months when we haven’t stayed true to these ideals.
So this year why not try something else? Consider setting an intention instead of making a resolution. An intention is similar but somewhat different from a resolution. While a resolution is often goal-oriented and typically focuses on our perceived flaws, an intention asks us to consider what we want more of in our life. Resolutions work on the assumption that we need to change something about ourselves and that once we lose 10 pounds or run five miles we’ll be okay. Intentions, on the other hand, help us celebrate where we are right now while also recognizing our tremendous potential for growth. Instead of beating ourselves up for not accomplishing something, an intention brings our attention and awareness to a quality or virtue we wish to cultivate.
Over the past few years I’ve set one-word intentions on January 1st. Just one simple word that helps guide me and that I can come back to over and over again during the coming months. A friend of mine calls this her First Word—I love that! When I feel like life is getting off-balance I can return to my First Word. It’s a great reminder to help bring things back into focus. It’s interesting to see how the word informs, guides and even tests me throughout the year.
To set your own one-word intention give yourself some time and space and let your intuition guide you. Ask yourself what you want more of in your life. Joy? Peace? Creativity? Opportunity? Abundance? Don’t force the word but let it come up naturally. You’ll know it’s the right one when it resonates with you. Then use this word as a touchstone throughout the year and see where it leads. You might be surprised at how it shows up for you.
So what’s your First Word for 2017? My word for the year? Kindness. Because we can all use some more of that in these uncertain times.
Kathleen Fleming is an artist and educator who lives with her family in Charlotte. She teaches yoga at Yoga Roots Studio in Shelburne.