It seems we are all ready to come to the end of 2020, a year that has upended many expectations and routines, and set a fresh course for 2021. Setting intentions and goals at the start of a new year is a time-honored tradition and feels particularly important this year. What does it take for them to become a reality?
The most important thing about setting your intention is that without congruent action, it is just another good idea. While clarity and practicality are important at the outset, only corresponding action will transform your purpose into reality. I like to think of it as setting my intention and then living intentionally.
What is truly most significant and meaningful to you? One of the biggest mistakes you can make is attempting too much change, too fast. It works best to focus on one, maybe two, goals at a time – no more. Is this essential to you or something you think you should do? “Shoulds” usually come in from the outside. Intentions must come from the inside out, or you will lack the emotional and energetic connection necessary to carry them out.
Another key to living intentionally is to expect discomfort. Desire for change tends to be related to something you want to improve or expand in your life. This means getting out of your comfort zone. We call it that because it is the realm of the familiar. The call to comfort is strong; and leaving that space, by definition, is going to be uncomfortable! Discomfort doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing something wrong. It usually means you are doing something different – and isn’t that what you want?
Are your actions aligned with your intention? This sounds obvious, but it is often where it’s easy to spin your wheels. Keep a log of what you are doing each day that supports your intention. Acknowledge the little things you do as well as the seemingly more significant actions. Keeping track of the small accomplishments as you go will help you stay engaged and motivated. Patience and persistence empower you to focus on progress instead of old behaviors.
With congruent action goes an attitude of curiosity and joyful effort. Stay mindful while making it a time of discovery. Cultivating a fun and inquisitive approach will make the process more enjoyable and give you more success.
Living intentionally brings vitality, presence, and joy to life. Blessings to you in this exciting new year!
Anne B Parker, MA, MHSA
Wellness Counselor and Integrative Arts Therapist