The start of a New Year provides a unique time for goal setting and planning. It’s a time for both reflection and renewal, as well as the refreshing of ones’ aspirations. While the past year may have felt like it went by quickly, it undoubtedly was also filled life changing memories, people, and events. Perhaps some of your goals were accomplished, or perhaps some of your goals changed. This is completely natural, and the phenomenon of change truly validates the old adage that variety is the spice of life.

With this in mind, begin this new year with intent.

What do we mean by intention?

Intention can seem like a simple concept at first. Perhaps you understand it simply as “setting a goal” or “deciding on an action or path,” but intention in this context is a bit more nuanced.

Similar to the intentions you set in your yoga practice, intent here is not just related to goal setting. Rather, it’s the priming of the mind, body, and spirit for a dedicated and on-going effort. Intention should not just be a target, but also the steps and methods applied to reach that target. For example, don’t simply tell yourself to Get Better Grades or Exercise More. Instead, create a mental map of how you plan to get better grades – ie. devote the weekends to school, skip the summer break, etc – and enable yourself to actualize your goal through effective steps. When thinking about your next year, being intentful with your goals means being thorough and devoted to the steps required to reach those goals.

Bringing Intent to Your New Year

When bringing this intent to your new year, we encourage you to apply these three simple steps:

1. Reflect on the Year Passed

First, it’s important to understand where on your path you are before you continue to push forward. Take time to reflect on your last year, and if possible, locate the list of your past goals and walk through them each slowly, analyzing what you’ve achieved and why or why not. Remember to ignore judgement in your reflection, as this can cloud your understanding of your goals and what truly contributed to their success (or failure). Ask yourself:

  • What did I want to achieved in 2014?
  • What did I achieve? Why?
  • What didn’t I achieve? Why not?
  • Did any of my goals change in the last year?
  • Did I add any new goals in the last year?
  • Did I achieve anything I didn’t expect to achieve last year?
  • What was the greatest contributor to my successes?

Taking a moment to write out your answers can help you both better understand how you’ve spend your last year and what has truly “risen to the surface” in your list of goals. Be diligent with yourself and this process.

2. Be Detailed with Your Goals

After reflecting on your past year, now’s the time to build out a list of your new goals or New Year’s Resolutions. Here is where the beginning of your intentful year is born. With reflection fresh in mind, craft a list of goals that is both meaningful to you and realistically accomplishable. Keep in mind what has helped or hurt your past goals, and plan with this in mind. Don’t be afraid to add some “stretch goals” to your list. While these may be harder to achieve, they can help inspire greatness and truly concentrated effort in your actions.

3. Make a Daily Reminder and Be Present

Like mentioned above, intent in this context is all about an on-going effort. While we may each seek to need nothing but our minds to motivate us, this isn’t always the case. We suggest creating a daily reminder (this writer, for example, has three: one at 8 am, 12pm, and 5pm) that provides a familiar tone. This can immediately refer the mind to your goals and help reorient yourself. Perhaps yours is not an alarm, but a clearly posted list by your door, or motivational message added to your computer desktop.

Similarly, it’s critical to remain present in your actions. While you’ve spent time in reflection, remember to be aware and conscious of your present actions and efforts. Be diligent in reminding yourself to not allow the mind to wander when working on your goals. Instead, remain steadfast with yourself and remember that it is often one’s spirits, not tools, that determine success.

A New Year Filled with Intent

Going through this process several times throughout the year can be both healthy and useful in aligning yourself with your goals, and we encourage you to do so. Remember that making a concerted effort to be intentful in your thoughts, actions, and behaviors is the first step to reaching success and finding yourself where you want to be in one year’s time. Above all, remain positive with yourself and keep in mind that good goals take time!

We want to hear from you! What are your goals? How do you plan to achieve them? Post your answers below!