As I write this I’m sitting in one of my favourite cafes, with a warm latte in one hand and my Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017 sheets laid out in front of me.
I look forward every year to doing this exercise.
To me there is magic in those pages. They capture what is really important in life - the lessons learnt, the love we’ve felt, the things we feel most grateful for. They offer a chance to record the highs, the lows, the experiences that shaped us, to bow our head for a moment in memory of the people we may have lost and smile as we think of the people who we have felt the most grateful for having in our lives.
It’s not about looking back and just thinking of the good times, but acknowledging the tough times too and that we made it through.
From that grounded foundation of gratitude the guide then takes you through a process where you create an intention for the year lying ahead and this is where for me, over the past seven years since creating and using this guide, I’ve really started to see something powerful happen…
The power of setting an intention for the year
In the first few years I would figure out a word or a phrase that conjured up what I wanted the year to be about. 2011 for example was ‘My Year of Adventure’ - the year that I quit my life in London and travelled all over the UK for 6 months living and working from a campervan named Beryl.
It was inspiring to call it this, knowing what plans lay ahead, but it was less of an intention and more of a ‘title’ for the year.
But in 2014 something happened that opened up the door to a whole new world of intention setting.
As I stood on a beach in Goa and looked out at the sea I asked the question ‘what do I want this next year to be all about?’ and after a moment a most unexpected answer came to me…
‘To really learn to love myself and treat myself like a princess’.
I laughed in surprise. A princess?! I would never have consciously set that intention for myself. That just wasn’t who I was or who I wanted to be. And yet deep down I knew that it was what I needed.
I trusted the source that I felt it had come from and so I went with it...
And that intention transformed my life.
And so since then, that is how I have set my intention every year. Rather than consciously creating an intention that supports the ambitions and commitments I have planned for that year, I now always allow the intention to emerge.
I love the magic of that - it feels as if my intention has been chosen for me by my wise inner guide.
Rather than looking out at other people’s lives and creating a shopping list of the things I think I want to achieve, experience and have and then creating an intention that I think will help me to get that eg. I want to make more money this year so I’ll create an intention of ‘Abundance’. I am instead asking myself on a deeper level ‘what do I really need to grow?’.
Deepak Chopra talks about the importance of ‘slipping into the gap’ before you set an intention - going ‘beyond the ego-mind into the silence and stillness of pure consciousness’.
This is the equivalent of me meditating on the beach that day and then walking into the sea before asking myself what my intention for the year would be.
To do it for yourself, just think about those times when you feel present and deeply in the moment. For you it might be when you’re out in nature, meditating, doing yoga or standing at the seashore…or sometimes all it takes is to be by yourself, be still and go inwards.
Once you feel that sense of peacefulness and connectedness, it’s simply a matter of asking the question and allowing the answer to emerge.
This can take practice. And if you feel you are still coming from a place of lack or need then try this: when your first answer pops into your head, write it down and then ask yourself ‘what do I really need this year to be about?’ and repeat that up to 5 times. This helps you to strip back and step away from what you think you want and need, towards what you really need.
Then it is time to commit - this part is essential
I always know when an intention is right for me because I feel a surge of expansive energy as it emerges. It excites me. It somehow feels ‘right’ even though it nearly always takes me by surprise.
I trust it.
And in that moment I commit to that intention.
Without my commitment to that intention it remains nothing more than a passing moment.
By committing to it, I give it power.
In fact I would say I surrender to it.
I have no idea of how it will manifest, I’m not attached to any outcomes. I have ideas of what I can do to help bring that intention to life, but that is it.
Setting an intention is like planting a seed and watching it grow.
Dr Wayne Dyer who wrote a lot on this topic, sees intention ‘not as something you do—but as an energy you’re a part of. A field of energy that you can access to begin co-creating your life’.
Now that is exciting to me.
And it would have once sounded a bit ‘woo-woo’ to me, but it really rings true with what I have experienced in my intention setting over the past few years.
Now there ARE other kinds of intention setting where you do plant deliberate seeds of intention of things you wish to happen in your life and then feed those seeds of intention with visualisations and practical action, to manifest them into being, but for my New Year’s intention I like to hand over to that deeper self, who is not at all interested in what I wish to achieve in the outer world and is only concerned with my spiritual growth.
And so I have already been given my mission for 2017: to create my life as a space in which I flourish.
I couldn’t tell you what that will look like or what journey that intention will take me on, but I’m already resisting it which is always a good sign that the journey has begun...so let’s see what happens.
And let’s see what your intention for 2017 does for you.
Let the magic happen!
P.S. If you haven’t downloaded your 'Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017' Guide then you can download it for free here
P.P.S. Our brand new 4 week online course 'Design a Life you Love in 2017' kicks off on 16th Jan! Join us and learn how to step into your power and design and live a year you really love - Full details over here!