It’s a brand new year, a time when people often make resolutions. Not me. I set intentions. Remember an earlier blog post (May 2022) on reframing our self-talk? To me, intention, defined as an aim or plan, has a more positive connotation than resolution, defined as “to settle or find a solution to.” I want to surround myself with positive people and positive words. I am also replacing “I must,” “I should,” and “I will” with “I want” and “I choose.” Let’s explore how you might set intentions for 2023.
Move Toward Instead of Away From
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, writes about moving toward something instead of away. Which are you? I confess: when people ask me what I want, I often say, “I don’t know, but I know what I don’t want.” Sound familiar?
This year, I have determined six things I want to do more of:
- Appreciate beauty
- Connect deeply
- Move frequently
- Create abundantly
- Improve lovingly
- Challenge gently
I can hear you now, probably referring to my post from last January. “But Court, those aren’t SMART goals. Where’s the Specificity? Metrics? Actions? Realism? Time-stamp?” Right. But I never called these GOALS.
Set Intentions Using Values
Think of INTENTIONS as values or principles that steer you through life. They are as much a part of us as sleeping, eating, exercising, and breathing. If you can remember what matters most to you at the foundational level, you can use those values to help you make decisions about what to include in your day. Once you know what you value, seek to include more.
The sixth intention, challenge gently, stretches me outside of my comfort zone. I remember the first time I went into Lake Washington on New Year’s Day for the annual Polar Bear Plunge. It was a challenge. Now it’s just a quirky, fun tradition, something I look forward to every January first. I trust that things I currently perceive as stretches will become more familiar and common with practice.
Active Ajax Adventures
My six intentions have culminated in a fun “moving toward” challenge. I call it “Active Ajax Adventures.” (AAA for short. I love my shorthanded acronyms!) These will look similar to Julia Cameron’s Artist Dates, only done with my dog. My chosen day is Tuesday, rain or shine. I will do something active with Ajax. This could be a hike in the mountains or a park. It could be “sniffer” training, or nose work, which he loves. We can do something shorter like visit an off-leash dog park. Or we can find new neighborhoods to explore on our walks. Something new and different every week. For us both. And something I look forward to. No dread.
What is exciting about this project is it creatively combines all six intentions. By documenting our outings on camera, I will pay more attention to my surroundings (appreciate beauty) while also connecting with my dog. “Active Ajax” means (bonus!) I will be active, too. The “create abundantly” part will play into my choice of location and how I document our adventures. “Improve lovingly” means improving my mood, well-being, self-definition, and exploration of our region. Wins all around!
I’ve even given myself permission to shift by a few days if the weather doesn’t cooperate. If one of us is sick, or if I find myself over-committed on a Tuesday, perhaps Wednesday or Thursday will work better. The intention is to have 52 unique adventures with Ajax in 2023.
Set Intentions: Try This
Several weeks ago I wrote about using journaling to find your strengths, values, and priorities. If you have that list handy, pull it out. Now, from your list, choose three to six values that you want to focus on in the coming months. Reflect on those values on a few walks. See if some creative idea comes to you that merges all of them together like the Active Ajax example.
If not, that’s totally fine; think of how you can set an intention to get more of that value in your life. Instead of “lose twenty pounds” can you choose a “moving toward” goal like “play pickleball weekly with a friend” or “set a step minimum with a reward for succeeding”? The more playful, the better. And announcing your intention to someone who acts as an accountability partner also helps. I have all of my readers to hold me accountable!
If you have an unusual intention for 2023 or would like suggestions for how to make it more likely that you will follow through, share them in the comments section below. I love to hear from my readers and respond to each credible post.