I enjoy the quiet time between Christmas and the new year. Quiet from work. Quiet by the tree. Quiet in me. The quiet often starts on Christmas Eve with a candlelight service at church and the departing hymn “Joy to the World.” A final exclamation for the year before I settle into comfy clothes and cookies for a few days of personal reflection.
During this time, I often hear myself more – or more clearly. I do less and “be” more by soaking in traditions, being more present with loved ones, and savoring a slower gear with time. I also put thought into the new year.
While I’m less about setting SMART goals (though I know they are useful), I do focus on my intention. How I want to be in the new year. What I want to put my attention to bringing about. What I want to reinforce in my sphere of influence and community. I always think about this from a positive perspective, more X rather than less Y.
I picked up this annual habit on intention setting from a former government Under Secretary and 1 star general I used to support. She would pick a word for the year, share it with her community, track what happened throughout the year related to it, and then share the outcomes the following December in a letter. It was always amazing to read what manifested in her year related to her word. Her approach for the new year was both personal and publicly accountable.
What I saw through her year-in-review intention emails, and experienced first-hand, is that intention is wildly simple but incredibly powerful. Intention typically brings more meaningful outcomes and unimaginable experiences that are bigger than what I could imagine in a SMART goal. The abundance of intention is incredible.
One year my intention was empower. Empower my team, my loved ones, my professional network, my self, my community. It was great to see how many opportunities arose each week for me to make a decision and take an action to empower, or savor when someone empowered me. The same went for my year centered on joy. For the past few years, I focused on 3 things: create, empower, joy. Each month I setup columns with each word at the top and tracked all the things I experienced related to one of those words. I never failed to fill up a page each month of wonderous experiences, thoughtful interactions, and heart-warming memories.
While I made the decision to change my intention(s) this year, I am not sure yet if it will be to one word or a few. Maybe I’ll pick a word for different areas of my life, a professional word, a community word, and a personal word. I have a new notebook picked out to start fresh as the other one is crammed full of intentional nuggets from the past few years. Perhaps the word will be…
- Rest (to not get over-extended)
- Laughter (to be more playful or spontaneous)
- Generous (to be more giving of resources—time, brain, heart, money)
- Boundaries (to protect self, time, energy, emotions, goals)
- Faith (to be bold in beliefs)
- Grow (to focus on learning)
- Health (to support physical and mental wellbeing)
- Care (to help build connections and deeper relationships)
- Family (to be more present with loved ones)
- Write (to fulfill a call)
- Wonder (to be more open to the Universe)
I look forward to what calls to me in the quiet moments in the days ahead.
If you want to join me with intention in 2023… Write your word(s) at the top of your calendar each month so you see it each day. Make it your computer password. Say it each night before you fall asleep and before you start your day. Track anything that occurs related to your word. Celebrate meaningful occurrences.
Then, watch it come to life!