I recognize it’s past the typical time we all talk about resolutions, but this isn’t a post about resolutions. This is a post about intention… and that is an ongoing discussion that can be focused on any time of the year.
I used to make New Year’s resolutions. I used to take them very seriously. I’d decide on a goal (lose 10 lbs., exercise every day) and break it down into steps, complete with milestones, rewards, etc. Yes, I have a project management background and I thrive on order and checklists.
And I’d be lucky to make it to March before everything fell apart.
In 2020, I started doing things a bit differently. I went to a workshop run by a functional nutritionist who talked committing to a journey through intentions. She chose words to help cultivate her intentions for the year. So, I decided to try it. I loved the experience so much that I’ve done it every year since, and now my family joins in on it. Every New Year’s Day, my husband and two teenagers go to brunch and talk it through; then, on the back of our napkins, we write down our words. We even put them on the fridge for the year so we have a constant reminder.
Want to know what my words have been?
2020: Grace and Flexibility
I actually chose different words, initially, for 2020, but by March it was readily apparent that whatever they were did not fit my needs. So, I changed them. (See? Intentions aren’t just a January thing.) Grace and flexibility supported me through the pandemic. They allowed me to take a minute when things felt out of control: to give myself or others grace when things were hard and to be flexible in my approach to everything. With so much unknown, these words guided me. And, honestly, they still do!
2021: Movement and Joy
After being stuck at home for so long and with so much uncertainty, the idea of movement felt right for 2021. The intention behind that word was not only physically moving my body, getting out, and exercising, but also being able to move more freely in the world. Lockdown was lightening up a bit, kids were back in school, and I was cultivating more of that. As for joy: well, I lost my mom in July of 2020, and it was incredibly hard. I wanted to focus on finding joy in the little things and filling up my bucket, and to focus on gratitude instead of sadness.
2022: Purpose and Play
In 2022, I realized I needed a professional change. I was one of the original “quiet quitters.” While I was incredibly good at my old job, I felt a significant lack of purpose. I no longer found joy in my career and it was time for a change. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to do next, and it became readily apparent to me that what I wanted… no, needed… was to be with an organization that aligned with my personal purpose and mission. I’m in the later 1/3 of my career, and I’ve been shifting my focus from growth to legacy. I realized I wanted to look back at my career and feel that I made a difference. My daughter is 14 years old and beginning to look around, see the state of the world, and question why things are the way they are for women. She wrote a report on the gender pay gap in 2022 and was up in arms about it. I wanted to do my part in paving the way for her and for all the young women coming up behind me. Enter Signature Leaders.
As for play? Well, I realized I was focusing entirely too much on work, and similar to finding joy in 2021, I realized I wanted to cultivate fun – to balance the seriousness of purpose with lightness. To lose myself in belly laughs, remember what it felt like to be silly and spontaneous, and proverbially let my hair down. It was a powerful YOLO reminder.
2023: Being and Community
I’m a doer, a fixer, and a problem-solver. I selected Being for 2023 because it’s challenging for me to step back and simply BE. My default is to step in and take control; I’m finding that approach, not only doesn’t work, but can also negatively impact my relationships. So, I’m focusing on slowing down, allowing things to happen as opposed to making them happen… accepting help when offered, and even asking for help when I need it. It’s scary, important, liberating, and relieving.
As for community? Community can mean a lot of different things: it can mean family, friends, coworkers, or social media networks; it can even mean professional support (coaches, mentors, therapists, or doctors). To me, community is anyone who can support you where and when you need support. Professionally: I’m literally building a community for our Signature alumni.
But it’s even more than that. Recently, a coworker and I were chatting about boundaries. She struggles with saying “no” to plans and friends, and I struggle saying “yes.” So, we challenged each other to “do the hard.” I challenged her to say “no” to one social event this week and she pushed me to make plans… and actually keep them. You know what? It is hard. The pandemic shut us down and made it harder/impossible to have community. But these support networks are so important, and I get to focus on them this year.
Do you pick words? If so, what are they? If not, what could they be?