There’s nothing novel about setting intentions come a new year – there’s also nothing novel about breaking those intentions before the January snow has a chance to melt. Let’s make 2022 the year that doesn’t happen.
To help us stay positive and set intentions we spoke with Dr. Michele Kambolis, a mind-body health specialist, registered therapist, meditation teacher and an acclaimed author and speaker who has been practicing for more than 20 years to get her takes on effectively setting intentions for the new year.
Align with your core desires
“One of the biggest reasons why intentions fall off is because we forget the core reason we started them in the first place. Remind yourself of the deepest wishes you hold for yourself. You might start your day by placing your hand at the heart and whispering inwardly, ‘The deepest wish I hold for myself today is…’ and then state those wishes clearly. Include your children in this morning ritual and encourage them to come back to their intention again and again. Aspirations are like signposts: they guide us along life’s journey and allow us to reflect on where we are.”
Keep your intentions structured, manageable, and measurable
“Decide on a schedule ahead of time, even if it’s five minutes a day. A structured practice will provide you with the learning space to both honor yourself and reshape your mind and body with life-changing habits. The more you practice, the more ease, flow, and automaticity you’ll find in your day-to-day life. When you also help your child break down their goals into manageable parts and structure them into their day in a predictable way they’ll be more likely to become internally motivated by the measurable progress.”
Go public with your intention
“Stating your intention out loud to those who can support you best can also leave you feeling more accountable. Ask a friend to join you so that you can be each other’s accountability buddies. Help your children do the same by using mealtime or other key parts of the day to express their intentions openly and help them find a like-minded friend to share in the same goal.”
Count the signs of growth
“Transforming our lives isn’t a straight line. We seed, we grow, we bloom, and the old self dies, over and over again. So count the signs of growth (literally tally the positive actions by writing them down throughout the day) and teach the mind to pay attention to them. At the same time, honor those times of difficulty knowing they’re a necessary stage of growth. This balanced view can offset self-criticism and build confidence in acknowledging the many small but cumulative steps you’re taking throughout the day to build a lifetime of well-being. Note the signs that your child is healing, growing, and expanding, and love equally those times of retraction.”
Set out signposts
“Visual signals can work wonders to remind you and your child of intentions towards change. If meditating together is what you both want, create a meditation corner with a meditation cushion and candle to inspire you towards practice. If you’d like to be more active, keep your running shoes and water bottle at the door to remind you of your intention.”
Create a bottom-line rule
“Even when we have a strong inner sense of where we’re headed, we can unwittingly send fuzzy messages. Becoming crystal clear about your bottom line clarifies to you (and to your children) exactly what you are and aren’t willing to do. These bright-line rules lead to predictable and consistent returns, transforming life for the better. They can also lead us out of harmful habits or into more supportive ones. As an example, if it’s better sleep you want, your self-honoring boundary might be: “I don’t drink caffeine after 3 p.m.” or “I turn off technology one hour before bed.” If it’s time for journaling or meditation you’re after, you might let your partner know: “I’m switching out our nightly Netflix time for thirty minutes of practice.” When you have boundaries, you don’t need to work quite so hard navigating daily decisions about whether something fits or doesn’t. Go ahead and define your bright-line rules and help your children discover theirs—they’re not only helpful in meeting goals, but they’re also deeply self-honoring.”
“It’s natural to feel awkward and even uncomfortable when making changes in your life. The pathway back to ourselves and our well-being can feel both mysterious and uncomfortable, a process we’re asked to trust but don’t fully understand. It’s this enigmatic quality that often holds parents and kids back from continuing when progress slows or regresses. Instead of stopping take a moment to pause, acknowledge what you’re feeling and meet yourself with compassion. Take a sacred pause together. When we pause, we can pay attention, without judgment, to whatever exists in the moment—and bring a little kindness into the moment.”