I spent a day last weekend with friends reflecting on 2015 and setting intentions for the 2016. Intentions are so different from goals – and I find them so much more powerful. Last year I set 5 intentions – words that represented things I wanted to live more fully into. The emerged from a process of reflection about where I was at the time, and where I wanted to be in the future. What was so powerful about these intentions is that they showed up in my life in completely unexpected and unpredictable ways. For example, one of my intentions was “explore the unknown.” When I selected it, I was thinking about my desire to travel more, to have more adventures, to go someplace with no agenda. Last year I did that. I was also presented with the opportunity to explore unknown skills, relationships, and domains of knowledge – and do to so using new (unknown to me) methods.
I have always been someone who sets goals, and found that practice has served me well. And yet when goals are not met, I feel a little let down. I tend to focus on what was not done, as opposed to what I accomplished. But with my intentions last year, I had less specific ideas about what I wanted to do at the beginning of the year. I was more grounded in the qualities I wanted more of, and why I wanted more of those things in my life. I did create action plans for how to live more fully into my intentions, but I also noticed opportunities that were unplanned, and could respond in the moment, choosing to say yes to things that would facilitate my growth toward my intention. My intentions opened my aperture wider, allowing me to see things I would not have otherwise seen. As a result, I had one of the most amazing years of my life – I ended with more of all 5 of my intentions, feeling very full and also ready for what’s next.
I start this coming year with 5 new intentions. They both complement each other and are a bit paradoxical. I look forward to finding out how they unfold in my life.
I want to express my deep gratitude to Larysa Slobodian, friend and colleague (and fantastic coach), who led me and the others through the intention setting process.