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Do you set New Year's resolutions or intentions?

As we approach the New Year I am trying to set some new intentions for myself. I never really liked setting New Year’s resolutions because resolutions feel too concrete without flexibility and I don't respond well to that. I feel like setting resolutions is just setting myself up for failure and the inevitable shame that comes with my lack of follow through. For me, resolutions can be too unrealistic to maintain once the realities and setbacks of life hit you smack in the face. Lately I have preferred setting intentions or even just picking a few words that inspire me and help get me through setbacks and tough decisions. This feels more attainable for me and sets a path and a purpose for me without it being too rigid. This past year one of my words was simplify and I really noticed how it positively set a tone for the things I wanted to achieve this year. This doesn’t mean this year was simple by any means! Ha! Far from it! But as I faced decisions or projects, I would ask myself how can I keep it simple?

When I was in college I worked in the costume shop of our theatre department and my professor/mentor would often say, “Keep it simple stupid” - or was it, “Keep it stupid simple”? - either way, I now say, “KISS it!” This is something I have tried to apply throughout this complicated year. For example, earlier in the year I had extravagant ideas for birthday parties for my kiddos that come right after the holiday season, and then I KISSed it and made things much easier and less stressful by just having a simple cake and party at a park, and the kids couldn’t have been happier. Note this was all pre-covid, this year their birthdays will be even easier with us staying home!

Keeping things stupid simple became a mantra of sorts. It became a handy tool to keep me focused on where I really wanted to put my attention and energy. I’m not always successful and I still initially tend to have grandiose ideas and I overcomplicate things, but having the intention to simplify really did help me keep focus on the important things I wanted to achieve instead of bogging myself down with unnecessary steps and complications. I have been more consciously aware of what serves me and what doesn’t serve me by simplifying my life and it became quite handy during this global pandemic.

So now here we are the week between Christmas and New Years and I’m throwing around what I want to set as my intentions, or words, for the year and I have a few ideas. A few words/intentions I’m gravitating towards now are:

Surrender - surrender to what I cannot control - letting go of my attachment to certain outcomes and expectations, things I cannot change. Let go of the oppressive “shoulds” that linger and cause anxiety, accepting whatever happens as it comes.

Self - moving forward with life decisions, asking myself, does this feel/sound like me? Does this serve me? Does this represent me? Over the past year I have really been trying to find myself, trying to find my purpose and my voice and this next year I hope to really nurture this pursuit of being authentically me and surrendering to what is next.

Strength - Developing a strong mind and body has been something I have been working on. I have added physical exercise and a yoga practice into my daily habits as a tool for my mental health and the physical benefits have been great! I have always wanted to feel strong and focusing on it being for my mental health has helped me work through the pressure of wanting to look a certain way. I hope this year to continue with my new habits with the intention of being mentally stronger, with the physical benefits being a bonus!

Excitement - I want all the fear I have for what is ahead to be channeled in to excitement for the future. When facing the unknown I hope to look ahead with anticipation of the adventures ahead instead of what could be seen as daunting and looms before me.

Compassion - I don’t know what I believe in, but one thing I do believe in having compassion for self and others and will be something I prioritize teaching to my children.

Acceptance - This can go hand in hand with surrendering, of accepting what I cannot change, accepting others for where they are, for who they are and this goes for the self as well.

Play - I have been learning about the importance of play in our lives as adults from a neurological perspective. Just like children need play for development, we still need to express our creative, physical, and emotional self through being playful for our own wellbeing and it allows us to find joy in interacting with the world and the people around us. I want to have more tears from laughter this year, not just from heartache.

I could go on but I don’t want to overcomplicate my intentions for the year! I am also allowing myself to be flexible and to not be so rigid with my intentions. Things will ebb and flow as I move forward through the year, allowing myself to reevaluate and figure out my priorities....taking life one day, one experience, at a time.

Do you set resolutions or intentions? I'm curious to know what works for others and what you are looking forward to in the new year. I hope for everyone to find ways to make this next year a little better, even with all the unknowns!

Happy New Year!

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