Have you gotten to the New Year and are wondering if it is going to be any different from 2023? If you are feeling exhausted at the thought of another year then today’s post should help. Let’s make this year more meaningful and fulfilling.
Everywhere you look people are being told to set intentions for the coming year and I completely agree with it. Intention setting is what brings meaning and purpose to life. And yet, how do we get this done and NOT spiral onto the pressure train? Done the wrong way setting up intentions for the New Year can create more problems than they solve. And I think the reason why is because we often get intentions messed up with goals and they are not the same thing.
A goal is something specific, an outcome. An intention is an attitude, or mindset for living. Put another way; it’s the how and/or why of your goal.
Goals alone can lead to any number of stressors that keep us from achieving them. Perfectionism, judgment, fear, lack of resources, over-commitment…any of these and so many more, can create tremendous pressure. Stress can be very helpful, but when it’s overwhelming and not adaptive, stress can self-sabotage your efforts. So how do we keep from falling prey to this and have the 2024 we really want? The answer to that is simple, if not easy. Remember your intention.
An intention isn’t about accomplishing anything. It’s how you go about your day too accomplish something. Intention is what helps you enjoy or at least find meaning, in the effort to achieve a goal. And that’s important. Truly in your brain dopamine is supposed to motivate you to continue working. Continue to put in effort. But in modern society, we often get dopamine as part of an outcome. The result is we don’t enjoy the process of getting the goal. And when we don’t enjoy the process for doing something we generally don’t continue doing it. See, to really live with meaning and purpose you need to understand WHY you are doing something and the why needs to be important to you. When you have a why, the effort matters more. And when the effort matters more you find that the work is worth doing. And when the work is worth doing and matters more, you do it more. This means you will likely get the outcome you were looking for…but even if you don’t, who you are through the process is its own reward.
Win - win
One way to make sure you are setting intentions and not goals is to select a word of the year. I use my word of the year to thread through my “resolutions”. This way, when or if something gets off track I don’t start crucifying myself for not hitting the mark. It wasn’t really about the mark anyway. It was about the process. My word of the year helps me remember to make the process important, not just the outcome.
And I need to remind myself of this VERY often. Like weekly so I have set up a process for myself to make sure I do just that.
Pick my word
Write quarterly goals
Break down quarterly goals to monthly/weekly goals
Evaluate once a week, tweak as necessary
In real life:
A few weeks before the New Year I start thinking about the biggest issues I had through the year and what I did that might have lead to the problem. Why? Because I can only control myself. This year, it was the end of some significant relationships that hit me the hardest. And as those relationships ended or left, there were some stark truths that I had to face about myself. Looking at myself in that mirror was painful. That was probably the biggest, most overriding thing for me this year, seeing how I contributed to the relationship struggles I’ve had.
Once I realized that I asked myself what characteristic or attitude could I have used that would have helped me. The answer to that question became my word of the year.
So for 2024 integrity is going to be my guiding principle. As much as I am able I want to remember, be mindful of, and come from a place of personal integrity.
My fitness goals, financial goals, personal development, and relational goals…all of them will begin with first asking myself - what is in alignment with me and keeps me in integrity.
Then I get a planner and write down quarterly goals for myself which I then break down monthly and then again into weekly action items. Daily/weekly action items lead to monthly goals which lead to quarterly outcomes.
I am working with a Clever Fox planner this year and you can find more about it here.
What I find the most helpful about this process is the pressure it removes from me. The goal isn’t really what matters, it’s the word of the year that matters. That word sets my intention for the year by default.
I intend to live from a place of personal integrity. It doesn’t matter what the hell I’m doing.
You can do any number of variations of this process. Set a word of the quarter or month and change it up if you need to. Building in flexibility from the start is another way for you to provide grace for yourself. You want to push yourself into an uncomfortable place to grow, and you need a safe environment to be successful. It’s not avoiding all pressure or stress…it’s about not judging yourself through the process. Treat yourself like you would encourage a friend.
What would your word be for 2024? What intention do you want to set for yourself? Not the goals only…but the meaning purpose and reason for your goals. That is what makes life more enjoyable…more meaningful. More fulfilling. And you actually will accomplish more too.
That's what New Year's resolutions look like for me.
I would really love to know what your Word of the Year is please let me know in the comments below. And if you've got some New Year's resolutions share those too! Let's cheer each other on!
I hope that you have a fantastic 2024 and this planning process works well for you. If you need some extra help, be sure to reach out we can talk through it. You can also learn more about this process from my YouTube video on the topic.