Everything I love about the New Year is expressed in my favorite quote:
“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.” - Edith Lovejoy Pierce
While every single minute of every day provides us with the chance to do this, there is something about the first day of a New Year that makes it super special and this quote embodies that. It also fully embraces my practice of setting intentions as opposed to resolutions. It’s interesting how the timing of my finding this quote and my giving up resolutions coincide. Intentions seem to more fully embrace my interpretation of the quote and how to maximize its impact throughout the year.
For starters, the very definition of the two words are so different in terms of creating possibilities. A resolution is defined as “a firm decision to do or not do something”. There is little or no margin for error, no room for the possibility of something different. I know that in order for resolutions to be successful, they need a plan that allows for gradual progress, but if that doesn’t happen, the resolution dissolves quickly and there is usually no room for an alternative.
Conversely, the definition of intention actually has the word “plan” built right into it - “an aim or a plan” - while also allowing room for adaptability and growth. It allows us to be in the moment, which provides opportunity to evaluate and revise based on initial results and incorporate that into how we choose to move forward, as this article suggests.
The idea of setting intentions has gained major popularity in recent years. All you need do is check out social media to see the creative ways that people are setting intentions whether they’re doing it “intentionally” by choosing a word or words for the year, or doing it randomly by choosing the first words they view in a word puzzle.
I’ve done it both ways and the results have been amazing and surprising. The first year I did this I intentionally chose the words “friends”, “family” and “fun” and it over-delivered on all 3, from a 75th birthday party for my mom, my nephew’s wedding and lots of fun personally and professionally. This last year, I randomly chose the word “adventure” and it was only two weeks later that we received a call from dear friends about joining them on their Tanzanian trip, which I wrote about this year. Additional opportunities for adventure both personally and professionally happened throughout the year and are continuing into this year as well.
It's a fun thing to do individually or even as a family with children of all ages. Imagine the possibilities of a child going into the New Year with the intention of kindness and friendliness. Or your teen finishing their second semester of high school with the intention of uniqueness, courage and confidence. What would it be like if your graduating senior decided to choose memories and accomplishment as their opening chapters for 2019 and added curiosity and adventure as they began their first semester of college in the Fall.
The power of intentions is that each person gets to create their “words on the page” and the opportunities for the “chapters of their life”. They can be things you aim for, events you specifically plan, or a spontaneous occurrence. They can build on the previous year or be new possibilities to create. They can even include a resolution. It can be anything and everything you choose.
I’d love to hear your intentions and words for the New Year. Whatever you choose, I hope that the pages of your “Book of 2019” are filled with all that you wish for and more!