Setting your intentions for the year ahead

Written by Staff Writer

Feb 1, 2021

By Julia Kerr Henkel, Certified Integral Coach

With the start of a new year, we may be tempted to set new year’s resolutions that often include things like losing weight, exercising more, sticking to a budget, becoming more organised, learning a new skill etc… But as our lives get busy again, these often fizzle out, only to resurface on next year’s list.

As we enter what is likely to be another challenging year, we are going to need to dig deep and be intentional about what it is we want from 2021, so I’d like to suggest something a little different – this can be done as a once-off personal reflection exercise, or as an alternative to the new year’s resolution list – it involves journaling and reflection.

Journaling has well documented health benefits, many of which are especially powerful during this time of uncertainty.  It evokes a calm state of mindfulness and helps you remain present while keeping perspective. It also has the added benefit of providing an opportunity for perspective, meaning making and emotional catharsis as it helps the brain regulate emotions, connect the dots of the experience you’re exploring and if that wasn’t enough, journaling provides a greater sense of creativity, confidence and self-identity.

You might not be clear on what journaling is and how it is different from keeping a diary or daily reflection. Diary keeping is a practical record of specific events and experiences. Journaling records events and experiences as well as your thoughts, feelings and emotions. Reflection involves looking back on past events and experiences, including thoughts and emotions from that time, so that you can learn and grow from them.

https://www.holstee.com/ is a mindfulness site that offers some fabulous free resources.

All three activities have merits and benefits and live on a spectrum, each building off of the other. If you are passionate about journaling and reflection, another great resource to check out is  https://www.reflection.app

But for now, before the year takes hold of you and your schedule fills up, I’d like to invite you to block out some time in your diary, get a notebook and pen, find a peaceful spot, and take some time to answer these reflection questions:

  1. How did I experience kindness and generosity in 2020?
  2. What was my experience of time?
  3. What did I realise I can do without?
  4. What did I realise really matters to me?
  5. What did I realise was possible that I never imagined was possible?
  6. What happened to my perception of control?
  7. What would I like to leave behind in 2020?
  8. What would I like to carry forward or continue into 2021?
  9. What would I like to start / begin in 2021?
  10. Where will I DIG deep in 2021? DIG is an acronym – where do I want to be Deliberate, to be Inspired/Inspirational, and to get Going?
  11. Who is in my Square Squad? These are people who’ve been there for me even in the smallest ways and whose opinion of me matters most. How will I appreciate them in the next 24 hours?

Once you have answered these questions, spend some time considering your answers and setting your intentions for the year ahead, you will find that rather than coming up with the same old cliche new year’s resolutions that tend to fade away at the beginning of the year, you will have gained insight into what 2020 meant for you and what it is you want from 2021. This is just the first step, I encourage you to continue with regular journaling into the new year – it is a wonderful gift to give yourself.

 

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