We’re nearly two weeks into the new year and, by now, I am typically looking back, already filled with regret, seeing how I have slacked off on my new year’s resolutions. Every year, I resolve to not make resolutions. Nevertheless, loping around in the back of my brain, are the resolutions that I have secretly made with myself, hidden away, because I do not want to admit – even to my own self – that I have fallen into the same trap yet again. This year, I was very deliberate about not only not making any conscious resolutions but also resisting the overwhelming temptation to tuck some away in my subconscious. After the challenges of last year, it was easy to imagine a whole slew of declarations of change that might help turn the Titanic away from that iceberg that sits ominously in the dark night. Despite that, this year, after a whole lot of soul-searching, I committed to not resolve and only focus on intention. Intention allows us to focus on the outcome rather than the activities that get us there. We commit to accomplish something and with that purpose in mind, the behaviors required to do it become much easier. In fact, I believe that if we are deliberate about our bigger intentional outcomes, we can have far greater results than if we put arbitrary expectations on ourselves, even if we have envisioned a game plan to complete them. What is never part of the plan are the inherent road blocks that will always trip you up.
So, this year I am trying something different and, on day 13, I can report it is going far more smoothly than I’d imagined.
For instance, rather than committing to lose the 15 lbs I gained between the hurricane and the holidays (not to mention the other weight that is still lingering), I simply set my intention to do what I need to do to feel healthy and strong and that immediately resulted in my commitment to get back into my kickboxing routine. Within days, I found myself feeling better and, instead of focusing on every morsel of food I put in my mouth, I am making sure that I get in a workout at least 3 times a week which is good for my body and mind. I connect with my friends there, I release tension and I continually acknowledge the benefits I am getting – far beyond what the scale might read. And, along those lines, I have abandoned the scale for the time being. It’s simply not a partner in my efforts. It is an evil little creature that calls out to me and mocks me regardless of the readout because, even if I have lost weight, it taunts me about the need to lose more. I simply never get the recognition I know I deserve.
Rather than resolving to spend more time with family members and friends, I have been extremely deliberate about the choices I make with my time. Because my job is so consuming and I can work 24 hours a day if I let myself, I am making sure that I use my free time wisely. I spend time with those people who energize me and align with my intentions. My family is my number one priority and where I want to be most of the time because being with them enriches me. However, I also need and desire the company of friends and colleagues so, if I am going to be away from my family, it better be for meaningful encounters. I’ve seen tremendous benefits from this already. I have connected with people who I lost touch with or have neglected over time and found our re-engagement to be so nourishing to my spirit. I have also been very conscious to make sure that I am responding to my needs to be social or my needs to alone and have quiet instead of my typical behavior of trying to be part of everything at all times and neglecting everyone, especially myself.
Instead of resolving to grow my business, make a certain amount of money or zoning in on certain focal areas, I have acknowledged the fear that normally inhabits me right about now, taunting me with the worry that no new clients or no new business will come along. I have been able to tame that fear by acknowledging that there is risk in how I run my professional life and there will always be uncertainty about my work. At the same time, my intention is to have a business where I work with people who are aligned with my thinking and behavior and that we focus on projects rooted in our passion with the ability to be meaningful both personally and financially. In my estimation, that is a strategic plan that will yield positive outcomes and what will help my business flourish. On the contrary, if I focus my energies on worrying and reprimanding myself for not doing things better or differently, the end result will be me feeling weak and powerless and disappointed in myself rather than feeling fulfilled and optimistic about the future. I have not billed one day of work this year yet I have no concerns about the future of my business because I am laying a strong foundation for growth and success. I have created projects and programs that are extremely meaningful and are yielding strong results because my passion and enthusiasm is coming across to partners and clients.
This past week I had lunch with an old friend and, as we were catching up on our lives, we got to talking about his philosophy about branding his years. He’s done it for the past few years and it has served to set his intention for the year. I love this notion but have never actually tried to do this for myself. I suppose, if I were to reflect back, I would say that 2012 was the Year of Vulnerability. I did not set that intention but it became very obvious to me one evening at the beginning of March as I sat in my car talking to a friend. I was having some kind of manic epiphany about the role vulnerability plays in my life and how it has taunted me for my lifetime. (It became apparent quite quickly, by the way, that lots of people close to me already knew that and forgot to include me in the memo.) Even with this realization, I did not set forth with the intention to be more vulnerable but I opened myself up to learning more about the struggles I faced with it and made a vow to educate myself and, if nothing else, become incredibly knowledgable on the subject. It is no surprise that with the learning came some level of implementation.
No brand for 2013 has surfaced but it is looking like this might be the Year of Intention. It’s a real shift for me because, while I am typically a very strategic thinker in business, I do not employ those same skills when it comes to my own personal life. In business, I think things through, make decisions after weighing pros and cons and don’t often act impulsively. Emotionally, it’s a whole other story. My husband proposed to me after knowing me for 4 months and, while I can still say 21 years later that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made, I have to admit that I certainly did not put a lot of strategic thought into it. I went with my gut. I don’t want to abandon that part of myself because I do have strong instincts but I also want to be more thoughtful about things and I commit to thinking about how I am living my life and who I am bringing into my life to help to nourish it and enhance it. To that end, the other day my friend posted a wonderful quote on Facebook that really summed it up for me when it comes to the people in my life:
One big intention for me in 2013 is making sure that I am not dragging people along behind me. I want the people in my life to want to be there. Growing up in the kind of family that I did, there was always an inclination to accept whatever anyone gave me in terms of friendship or love. I did not have the self-confidence or the acuity to discern between what I wanted and simply what was in front of me. I was like a homeless person who is being offered food. A tuna sandwich is sustenance even if it is a steak you are really craving. How do you turn down the sandwich when you are starving? I guess, the good news is that my tummy – and my heart – are full now. Anything I choose to ingest is for pure enjoyment and enrichment. I no longer need to make myself whole. I no longer need to fill gigantic empty chasms within myself in order to get through each day. I can live a life of intention because I am finally at a place where I get to choose. I get to intend. I get to be selective.
It’s a very new feeling for me because, in truth, all I have ever known is how to go with the flow. I have lived a life of desperation where I am always putting filler into the gaps to ensure that the building wont collapse. My life has been a house of cards and one strong breeze could end me. Not so much anymore. 2012 might have been the Year of Vulnerability and learning how to embrace the vulnerability has actually made me stronger and more powerful. I am no longer afraid of it. It feels good! Learning how to do this also gave me the power to make my own choices and stand on my own feet. So, in 2013, I do not need to make resolutions. I do not have to force change in my life because I am living a life that welcomes change as part of the roadmap. Course correction will always be a necessity because I do not have the gift of telling the future or a magic crystal ball to see what lies ahead. Instead, I have fortification to know that, no matter what comes along, as I live with intention, I am doing the best that I can and I am preparing myself for whatever lies ahead. I am always surrounded by people who will catch me if I fall rather than plotting ways to knock me over. It isn’t always easy and I am certainly not perfect but I am open to giving this a shot and seeing where this year takes me.
Go ahead, come along for the ride. Throw out those resolutions and commit to living your life with intention!