A new year always feels like a blank slate. Every day, no matter the month or the season, is a chance for renewal, a chance to do better. But the beginning of a year always feels like an official reset. A new year brings new opportunity, new potential, new experiences. There’s a concrete marker between this year and the last, and we shake off what we left behind as we move forward.
It’s no surprise that this emphasis on renewal has us making resolutions, promises to ourselves of what we will accomplish, and what we will do to live better lives. This year, I challenge you to skip the resolutions and focus on intentions instead.
Resolutions and intentions are different. Resolutions are individual acts that we can check off a list. Intentions are ways in which we approach the world, an attitude or an idea that we incorporate into our daily actions.
Why opt for intentions instead of resolutions? Resolutions are easy to fail at, easy to leave behind. Intentions are always a work in progress, never completed and always evolving. “I will lose 10 pounds” is different than “I intend to focus on health.” Losing 10 pounds is just a check box; either you reach the goal or you don’t. “I intend to focus on health” provides a platform for assessing our choices, from what we eat, to how we move, to whom we interact with.
A life well lived isn’t necessarily a life of checked boxes. A life well lived is one that’s in balance, one that’s in harmony. We are mindful. We are present.
For many of us, 2017 was a dark year. But somehow, we carried on. We have not succumbed to darkness. We have cared for each other. We have—as is the popular phrase of the year—persisted. We have carried light within us.
A friend told me of a New Year’s tradition to share with a few friends. Every year when they gather for their New Year’s celebration, they choose a word that will guide them in the year to come. And at the end of the year, they go over their words and see how their word played out.
I like this idea, because it creates an intention. Choosing a word causes us to be mindful, bringing that word into everything that we do.
I have thought a lot about the word “light,” both the light that I seek and the light that I bring. “How can I cultivate light?” is a question we could ask today, tomorrow and the rest of the year. Bringing a little light to your family, your friends, a neighbor, a stranger—all lead to something larger, no matter how small it feels in the moment.
We each have the power to add light to everything that we do, every day.