A friend of mine recently shared that she has adopted the habit of letting January be a pause month, a time to reflect on the previous year before making any commitments to the new year. This hit me in that way things do when you have a feeling but haven’t formed words yet. Then someone else perfectly gives you an understanding (or permission) and it makes you want to stand up, cheer, and give them a hug and high-five.
I’ve always been fascinated by habits, re-invention, and the agency we have to change our own lives. That doesn’t necessarily make me a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions, but it does have me constantly making lists, checking boxes, thinking, writing, and experimenting with growth and change. I tend to make goals and resolutions constantly throughout the year, but I especially love to do it with the energy and passion of millions of others at the same time.
I’m a sucker for zeitgeist.
However, in past few years, the sparkling haze of holidays in November/December and squeezing every last-minute out of my precious time with family at Christmas hasn’t left me hugely motivated for the mental and emotional discipline required to form a strong resolution, intention, or plan on January 1. Frankly, I’d rather spend the loooooooong month of January coming around to my goals and intentions slowly. Like the way I prefer to wake up on a weekend morning. Giving myself plenty of space and time to reflect, ponder, and hold ideas loosely–testing them, turning them to see them from every angle.
So I gave my permission to do just that this year, saving commitment until the Lunar New Year, which happened just a few days ago. And I was ready.
On December 31st, I did manage to set an intention for the year. I like to set intentions using the #onelittleword format that I discovered years ago and practiced with my students in my classroom. It’s simple, unlike most of my goals and resolutions. Committing to a word balances accountability with grace. As my yoga instructors always like to say: You can return to it any time during your practice. In the practice of my life, intention can be my child’s pose.
This year, my word of intention is curiosity. Here’s what I want to stay curious about:
- other’s perspectives
- my capacity for change and challenge
- my friend’s feelings
- the freedom of spontaneity
- the history that has informed this present
- the future that is possible
- my happiness
- living in the moment
- how to hold things of importance fiercely and loosely
- my influence and power
My intention is to choose curiosity over certainty, over comfort, over being right. To apologize quickly and stay curious about what I can learn and how I contribute to healing. To push past fear because I’m too curious about what’s beyond it to turn back despite the stomach-churning, heart-accelerating power of that emotion.
I’m curious about what happens when I write for myself and not for you.