We have reached that time of year again, full of nostalgic reflections and Instagram posts of the year gone by. Of new beginnings, or the re-boot of old new beginnings that never came to be. Promises of self-betterment or for those who oppose the whole concept, of intentionally upholding their bad habits with pride.
Most of us claim to have ambivalent feelings towards the ritual of New years resolutions, yet we voluntarily join in on it, year after year. Because, truth is, this annual check-in gives us all a free-card to reflect. It creates space for processing. When caught in both the predictables, the unpredictables and the general happenings of life, there is a lack of such spaces in most people’s year.
Credit: Aine Donnellan
Especially this peculiar year. Peculiar doesn’t really cover it, but neither does any other turn of phrase. Trying to describe this year in one word, is like trying to describe the rainbow with one color. It has been a simple time, yet complex beyond my understanding. Heavy; gloomy; ecstatic; beautiful; horrible; sharing; caring; opening; backtracking; confusing; overwhelming, underwhelming and everything in between. And that doesn’t even begin to describe it.
So on a personal level, I feel a dire need to reflect. To process all the mixed emotions, actions and thoughts that I have landed in throughout this spectacle of a year. However, as a yogic-vegan, New Years Resolutions are a bit too cheesy even for me – so I choose to go with New Years Intentions instead. And if 2020 also left you overwhelmed, I’d suggest you’d join in on this journey too.
Take an honest look back at the past year, on a personal level. What mistakes did you do, where did you succeed? What are you most proud of having achieved and what is something you’d like to leave behind? These reflections have no other agenda than to help you understand yourself and your place in the world – and you’re in charge of how deep you want to dig. Make it silly, deep, challenging: Make it work for you.
Once you’ve found a few areas to work on, or hold onto – these could be emotional, health goals, career goals, academic, experiential or whatever else your heart desires – jot them down on a piece of paper. Then come up with three ways in which these areas could realistically be fulfilled or worked on. And then come back to this scribble throughout the year, as a reminder of what you intended to focus on in 2021.
Credit: Nela Cadinaños
Choosing to think of these focal points as intentions, rather than resolutions, creates a healthier mindset around the practice. It allows you to create a vision and direction for yourself, without the pressure of a rule or the restrictive nature of a promise. And after a year full of restrictions and regulations, we don’t need to impose more such on ourselves. Rater, let’s move into this new year with our loosely set intentions – and see how we go along the way. Should we not like them, they’re fluid and open for change. Should they suit, they can also remain firmly constant.
The key element for these intentions to function properly, is again, reflection. To keep coming back to them throughout your year, and to evaluate. Or not, if that is the intention. Just like choosing a focal point when balancing on one leg is the best way to find stability, life-intentions function like anchors in your day-to-day life. And sailing without such a tool can leave one far adrift, feeling lost and confused. Or you may end up on a paradise island, living happily ever after, who knows.
One of my New Years Intentions is to let go of absolutes – hence the inconclusive nature of this conclusion. However, earnestly speaking, the best way to know in what way setting New Years Intentions will work on you? Trying it, of course.
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