I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions.
Instead, about five years ago I started the practice of “Setting Intentions” for the New Year.
Here’s the difference...
Traditional New Year’s Resolutions (which often include planning to do something daily, or weekly, or reach a goal by a certain date) will more than likely set us up for failure. There is even research that shows that 80% of all New Year’s Resolutions fail by February! It’s a recipe for disappointment in our busy, complicated lives.
But setting an Intention for the New Year is more of a big picture exercise. It starts with looking back at what happened over the past year, how that felt and what it meant, and then thinking about what direction you want to take in this new year. What do you think this next year will be about? Consider what the “theme” of the new year will be and what you want to manifest – in yourself, in your relationships, in your career.
Now let’s add a symbolic ritual to your intentions.
The New Moon
I’m no astrologer, but how we are affected by the moon and stars has always been interesting to me. I started down the path of intention setting five years ago when I read an article about how the New Moon in January is an auspicious time to set intentions for the new year. My nest was newly empty, and I was just starting my private practice, so I had a lot of intentions to set! The article felt serendipitous and gave me a framework that helped me make my intentions meaningful and concrete. Having done this for five years now, I believe that the New Moon in January is a great time to put your hopes and dreams out into the Universe and then take actions that will help you move toward success.
A Red Candle
The article mentioned lighting a red candle during the exercise – I honestly don’t know why a red candle is meaningful – but it’s what I have done for five years, and I like it! Red has always felt like a color of empowerment for me, so maybe that’s why it feels right?
Begin with Some Meditation or Prayer
Intentions come from some place deeper, or higher, than your brain. This is not an intellectual exercise, as in “what tasks do I want to accomplish this year” or “what goals do I want to achieve.” This is a soul search for what the coming year will be about and in what direction you feel drawn. What path do you want to follow this year? What are the next steps you want to take in your life? What do you want to manifest?
You get to choose how to access this deeper or higher wisdom. Perhaps ask for guidance and clarity through prayer. Or close your eyes and focus on your breath, allow your mind to wander around your body, and listen for the wisdom to bubble up.
Write It Down
Writing helps to clarify and solidify our thoughts. Use paper and pen or a computer and write your intentions in a meaningful way. There is no “right way” to express your intentions. They can be written in paragraph form, bullet points, or ONE WORD that encompasses the theme of what you want the New Year to be about. You can list a few supporting actions that will guide you toward success.
The Time is Nigh!
In 2019, the New Moon is January 6. “They say” to set your intentions as close to the New Moon as possible or within a week after. Besides a candle, paper, and pen, everything else you need is already within you.
-Valerie Allen, MEd, LPCC
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*The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this column is not intended to replace or substitute for any mental health treatment, financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require psychological or medical treatment, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist in your area. The opinions or views expressed in this column are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed professional, physician, or mental health professional. This column and its author are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions.