New Year's Intentions

Dirt path going uphill in a green forest.

Dirt path going uphill in a green forest.

I woke up the day after New Year’s Eve to a text from a friend, “Top 5 things you are letting go in 2019.” In my family tradition, the turn from one year to the next in the Gregorian calendar is a time of intention-making and so I lay in bed thinking about this new year.

Sometimes the pressure to make “resolutions” freezes us – what if we make a resolution and then fail? Even the best ones feel so stark “I’m going to do morning stretches every other day.” But then I have two late nights that leave me wanting an extra hour of sleep and I find myself hitting my snooze button through stretching time. Suddenly my resolution is broken. That’s why I like intentions; they are more of a journey, a stringing together of moves that create a practice.

Change can be sudden. More often I find it takes me time and practice. Habits – whether physical or mental – are paths in your brain. And like a trail through the forest, it takes time to wear down new paths and for the grass to grow over the old one.

Here are a few tips for making new trails in 2019, whatever those may be for you:

  • Pair your intentions. If I’m going to let go of reaching for a beer when I want to relax after work, perhaps I’ll replace it with 10 minutes of stretching and a hot shower.

  •  Notice your triggers. What is it that makes me grab the phone and surf social media? Am I feeling lonely? Tired? Stressed out? Bored?

  • Now that you know your triggers, make a plan for when they come up. Am I feeling bored and reaching for the computer? Maybe I’ll work on that collage instead.

  • Organize your space or objects to help you with your intentions. Wanting to spend less time on the internet – keep the phone out of arms reach and that book you’re intending to read near by. Working on quitting tobacco – get rid of all your cigarettes, lighters, and ash trays. Learning to love your beautiful body – let go of clothes that don’t fit.

  • Tell people who will help support you. Let them know how they can support you. Maybe it’s a text asking how things went today. Maybe it’s being extra understanding if you’re grumpier than normal. Maybe it’s joining you at that kickboxing class or book club you’ve been meaning to get to. Maybe it’s listening and a hug.

  • Practice! Are you quitting something? Practice not doing it for an hour/a day/a week.

  • Be gentle with yourself. Slip ups are ok. Frustration is ok. And when you do great – give yourself extra love!

Team Shifty