Happy New Year! If you are like me, you awoke today with a feeling of possibility. In just twenty-four hours, a whole new year awaits us. Anything could happen. And while the year ahead will have surprises for us that we never could have imagined, it is also very malleable and eager for us to fashion it into what we want from it.
Because I believe that intention matters, I like to start every year with three rituals. In the first ritual, I get clear on what feeling I want to have in the new year because it is that desire, that deep truth, that will guide and inform most everything I do. The second and third rituals see me defining my vision with a vision board and claiming my care with a wellness prescription. Today’s spark is going to take on ritual number one: Choosing a word for the year. The next two sparks will take on the other two New Year’s rituals (and, a bonus, this Wednesday’s post will guide you through a New Year Personal Summit- which can really be helpful to you in completing all three rituals for yourself). Now, back to this week’s spark:
What’s the first step to getting the life you imagine?
Having clarity about who and how you want to be in the world.
The thing that matters most in our growth is not articulating hard goals we have for ourselves- I want to run a marathon– but articulating how we want our lives to feel, how we want to feel, really assessing who and how we want to be in the world. Because when we know that, we can build a life that allows us that feeling and then every day feels like we are living in our true calling.
Typically, our approach to transformation involves a list. And if you know anything about me, you know I LOVE a list. I rely on lists to get everything done. From my comprehensive and a little bit crazy to do list (a friend recently looked at my to do list and said it would give her an anxiety attack which totally made me laugh because if I didn’t keep a list like that, I would have an anxiety attack) to my birthday list, lists are my things. They are my tool of choice. I get a lot of mileage out of my lists. But my lists are not my starting point because here’s the thing: a to do list is not transcendent. It is an action plan. Not a heart center.
So before I can write any list, I have to be in touch with my heart center. There are many different ways that I do this (Beautiful You shares a lot of them), and one of those ways is by getting quiet at the beginning of each year so I can get clear on what intention I want to have in the new year– what focus, truth I want to guide my actions.
Intention is about having an internal resolve, a desire to move towards something that will serve you better as you move forward. It is claiming the desire to live your life in a certain way so that things happen on purpose rather than by accident. It is making life happen by your choices, energy, and focus rather than having life happen to you. After setting an intention, you can claim your vision, and then it is after that vision has been formed that you can begin to move into action (and all those to do lists that articulate and motivate the necessary action).
When we really plug into our intention, we become inspired by our vision for our life which makes all of the actions that need to come to make our intention real more enticing and we become less resistant. We move from all of those I shoulds into I really want to… and that makes all of the difference.
But, really, can one word really capture our intention? Can it have that much power? As a woman who has loved words her whole life, here is what I can tell you: there may be nothing more powerful than a well chosen word. Words resonate. They stir us. They attract (or repel) us. They inspire. There are times when I am reading poetry or a prose passage and I will catch on one simple word and it changes everything. It brightens, expands, makes clear. One simple word can have that power.
And so, every year, as December yields to January, I sit down and think about what I most want out of the new year. What feeling do I most want to have most regularly? The first word I ever chose, back in my mid-twenties, was voice. I wanted to know what I was about and then use my own voice to empower others to use theirs. And when they couldn’t, I wanted to raise my voice for them. The year I was a new mother, I chose peace. I wanted to be still in my heart, to know deep inside that I was doing what was right even when the world beyond my heart was spinning. The next year, I chose wellbeing as my first year of parenthood had seen me sacrifice my own well-being more than I could sustain much longer. This past year, I chose wholehearted. I wanted to get really pure with my actions– to, as much as is possible, only say yes to opportunities and experiences that I could be in with my whole heart. I wanted everything (well, as much as possible as there are still dishes that have to be washed and I am not into those whole heart) I was doing to be an authentic extension of who I was and how I wanted to be in the world and not things I felt I must do out of obligation or politeness.
And it is amazing what choosing these words did to me. They made my mind changed. And when my mind changed, my actions could change, yielding more and more of the life that I wanted. My intention became manifest.
So, this week, I want you to get quiet so that you can get as clear as possible about what feeling you want in your life and what intention you most need to focus on for that to become real. Then, I want you to choose your word, your guide. And as life unfolds, you will be presented with opportunities to either chose to embody your word or turn against it. In those moments, I encourage you to always chose the route that will take you closer and closer to living your word; let it teach you what it can, let it guide you to where it can, let it make you more aware.
What feeling do you want in 2013? Given that, what is your word for the year?
As for my word, I am auditioning a few right now. You see, the feeling I want from 2013 is one of flow. I want things to be easy. I want to have less to manage but more of the good stuff to enjoy. I want less resistance and weightiness in my life (and by weightiness I mean the stuff that weighs down one’s spirit). I want to shake up the parts of my life that are stale or overwhelming or overbearing and put things back together in a whole new way that allows for the liberating joy and bright light I seek and crave. I want to revolutionize the way my days look and the work that I do and let the things that aren’t most pure and authentic for me go. So the words I am auditioning right now are easy, flow, and revolutionary. On the surface, those might seem like different very words, very different intentions, but, to me, I see where they catch the same light and can each give me that feeling I most want to have. I’ll definitely be back here to let you know which word passes the audition (who knows, there may be a sleeper that sneaks in!)!
And a simple note: If you are a word hoarder like me, you might think that if one word is good then three or four or five might be better. This is one of those cases where more is not better, I promise you. More confuses, dilutes, and drains focus. One simple word is all you need. I am holding myself to that advice and I encourage you to do the same.
One more thing: Do you love the idea of starting the year intentionally and would like to be even more intentional about it than the weekly sparks? If you are local, join me for visionSPARK. There are two spots left in this Friday’s session (9:30 am until 12:30 pm) and one spot left in Saturday’s session (9 am until noon).