New Year, New You
New Year, New Intentions
I love the beginning of the year. There is something thrilling about turning the first page on my planner (yes, I still use the old-school paper kind) and seeing that blank slate. It’s like a book that hasn’t been written, one in which I get to choose the plot and decide what happens. The new year is a time of change, an opportunity to shed old habits and self-limiting thoughts and make room for a more expansive view of the world.
I am one of those people who loves making New Year’s resolutions, but instead of setting goals, I set intentions for how I want to live my life in the coming year. Admittedly, this is a fairly recent mindset, one I’ve adopted only in the last few years, thanks to deepening yoga practice.
Every yoga class starts with the teacher gently reminding students to set an intention for the class. When I first started my practice, I didn’t know what this meant. I’ve always been a bit of an overachiever and an enthusiastic goal-setter in all aspects of my life, from getting all A’s in school and advancing my career to meeting fitness goals. My thought was always, if I didn’t have a goal I could work toward, then what was the point of doing anything?
When I took my first yoga class more than 20 years ago, I did not love it. The pace was too slow, and I didn’t see any results physically. I was frustrated by my lack of flexibility, and I compared myself endlessly to those around me, who could contort their bodies in ways I could not. There was a sense in the beginning that it was too late for me to make my body do something it hadn’t done in years. So I dabbled in the practice; most poses were goals I felt I could not achieve, therefore I had no motivation to get better.
Then about nine years ago, something shifted. That “set an intention” message clicked in my brain. There were a lot of things going on in my life at that time, and to leave all of that behind and simply be present on my mat became my only intention — and, unknowingly, my lifeline. I showed up every day with no goals, just this one thought: to be here now. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t do a lot of the poses; in fact, I came to the realization that every pose was a journey without a destination. My body was constantly on its way somewhere — there was an infinite amount of space I could open up if I simply gave it the time and patience.
For someone who always wants the certainty of an achievable goal, this was mind-blowing and utterly liberating, nothing short of a life-changing revelation. I started applying this intentional mindset to everything in my life. I imbued everything I took on — from changing my career trajectory to learning new hobbies to meeting new people — with a sense of curiosity instead of an agenda. It opened up a whole new world of possibility for me: Without an end goal in mind, I became more in tune with the experience of the present, my days an invitation to explore everything around me with openness and wonderment.
So with the new year coming up, I simply intend to live more fully, love more deeply, and experience each day with as much attention as I can give it. Because truly, there is nothing beyond this, despite what the calendar says.