Courage for career women blog

with Vanessa May

How to set up lasting intentions for the New Year

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Do you recognise this cycle? It’s New Year’s Eve and you’re full of excitement for the possibility of a new year.

You imagine all the dreams and possibilities. Fuelled by the happy hormones of excitement you define your new year’s resolutions. This year will be different. You’re determined to make it happen. The first week in January you go all out. You push towards your goals, full of grit and energy.

Two weeks into January and your motivation is waning. The days are short, the weather is cold and you’re feeling the slump. Your resolutions and intentions feel hard to maintain. You start to question why you agreed to dry January because right now you don’t like the way you feel and a drink would really help take the edge off.

By the end of January, you’ve decided it’s not worth it. You didn’t really want what you said you wanted on New Year’s Eve. But whilst you say this another part of you is beating yourself up for having given up.

If you recognise this, I want to invite you into a new way of holding intentions and being with the winter season. Firstly, I believe winter is not the right time to push. If we look at nature it’s a time for reflecting, discerning and grounding. Spring on the other hand is a great time to spark and push things forward.

So how can we create a structure that meets nature and the season we are physically experiencing whilst also promoting healthy striving towards our dreams?

Two words that guide me are conscious and intentional. Consciousness is defined as being aware of and responding to one’s surroundings or having knowledge of something. Intentional is defined as done on purpose or deliberately.

So here’s how I use these words to help me create healthy, consistent striving towards my purpose and vision.

  1. I review my last year from a grounded reality. What happened during the year? How did I perform? What were my numbers? What was the feedback from my service? How did I deliver on my purpose? How did my relationships go? What are my celebrations (ta da’s and failures)? What have I learnt?
  2. What was my energy like throughout the year? Where did I gain energy and where did I lose it? What mental and emotional churnings did I lose energy on? What practices supported me to stay in my well-being? Where did I forget or choose consciously not to practice self-care?
  3. What is my dream for the year ahead? What do I want to achieve and who do I want to be in the forthcoming year?
  4. What are the milestones that I want to achieve for 2023? What’s important about all of those? Who will I become as I deliver on them? What’s the cost of not delivering on them? How will I remember and practice consistent action to deliver on them?
  5. What is one word that captures the essence and energy of the year I intend to have?

From this place, I have a big-picture view of the year ahead, but this is only half the story. The critical part is how I show up for myself each and every day.

I commit to 2 simple daily practices. Each morning as I wake up I …

  1. Check-in with my energy and ask myself how I am feeling, emotionally and physically? From this place, I can discern how to set my day up. As an example, if I wake up tired, I might choose to be gentle on myself or I may choose to wake my physical energy up knowing it will create a clear mindset and feeling of aliveness.
  2. Set an intention for the day of how I want to experience my day. For example, ease and grace or achievement and depth. Having set the intention, I check in frequently on how I’m doing. And if I forget to check in and things are going awry, it’s a place to come back to and hold myself responsible to bring what I expect to find within my day.

At the heart of this approach is holding myself as an adult and creator in my own life. It’s about realising I’m not on a sprint through life. Each day is a blessing and whilst I might have been conditioned to set goals and push like crazy to achieve them because of an old idea that it will make me a good and worthy human being, I can choose to honour myself.

I am someone that wants to experience joy and fulfillment in life. I am a purpose-driven human and in 2023 I plan to publish my book and continue to support women to claim their freedom to be themselves and succeed on their own terms. My word for 2023 is integrity. I choose that word because it holds an energy of alignment, congruence and practice. The word integrity makes me stand tall in my body and feels strong and courageous.

I’d love to invite you to share what your word is for 2023.