A Revision to the New Year's Resolution
I began setting New Year’s resolutions in Jr. High when I first heard there was magic in speaking intention into the universe. However, my initial experience with setting resolutions was making a list of things not to do. For instance: “For one whole year, I will resist the urge to cut my own bangs.” It wasn’t until much later that I realized you could also set your intention on good things you wanted in your life. Since then, I have relished the notion of starting something new and fresh; re-examining old goals, naming new ones. But my “resolutions” are no longer negative and no longer plural. I followed the lead of a friend who challenged me to bear in mind a single word or phrase to guide me throughout the year, setting an "intention". I’ve adopted that habit and found it to be freeing and focusing at the same time. Not to mention, it’s easier to keep year-round instead of abandoning by the end of the first month.
I can tell you what my word of intention has been for the last five years and with it share narratives of how the themes showed up from January to December. One year, my word was “Patience” and it wasn’t until December 5th that my husband started a new job he’d been searching for since the previous winter (the irony wasn't lost on me). Another year my word was “Abundance” and I didn’t see the fruit of that theme until after the listing, waiting, renting and final selling of our home in October. Whatever the results, I have found that setting an intention or theme for the year is both an act of agency and an act of hope.
Anytime we make a choice, we are using our agency. We are exercising implicitly or explicitly our power. So, to name a word for the year is to choose to move toward that theme with intention. Just the act of naming and claiming helps clarify our choices as well. If we chose “Patience” for instance, maybe we will wait and save, or think twice before acting, or pause and reflect. The initial choice as well as subsequent choices give organization to our actions in the world.
And when we use our agency to act with intention, there is hope that the universe will meet us in our desires and match us with support and encouragement. If your word was “Play,” the hope is that the universe would grant you more opportunities to live creatively and carefree. Maybe you hear of a corporate softball league that’s been around for years, but you never paid attention to it until now. Perhaps you take a risk to go on a trip and a friend surprisingly says he wants to join. Imagining that there will be open doors and affirmations of our intentions is the hope we gain by setting them in the first place.
So, the question remains, how does one choose a word or an intention? One possible answer is that your theme may be found in what you’d like to change about yourself. It could also be identified in the place where you need healing. A friend could also help you reflect on where there is room for potential growth. And a therapist who listens well to both your strengths and challenges can help come alongside you as you discern for yourself what intention or theme, you’d like to make for a future that looks different than where you find yourself presently. If you’d like help, schedule weekly appointments with a well-trained therapist who wants to help you in your quest for agency and hope.