Taking stock and setting intentions

posted in: Coaching | 1

What can you do this year that makes you come alive?

without fear
Question on the bathroom wall of The Yoga Hive, sans the all important “r” ;).

Yesterday, I spent part of my New Year’s Day with 35 spectacular people kicking off 2015 in down dogs and Savasana. Thanks to Kimberly Musial of The Yoga Hive, I had the opportunity to take part in the Hive’s fifth annual New Year’s Day yoga and lead the group through some reflections and intentions at the start of class.

We talked a bit about intentions as compared to resolutions. The latter can be rigid and unforgiving. Resolutions tend to be focused on the “shoulds” of life – “I should lose weight,” “I should spend less money,” etc. (Not that some of the shoulds wouldn’t, in fact, be good for us.) But there’s something about the rigidity that keeps us from ever achieving them. What if a “should” was re-framed as a wish? That is, what if we could decipher the true desire behind a “should,” (if there is one)?


Here are a few examples:

The “Should”                                            Corresponding Wish

Spend less money                                     …so that I can travel more, retire early, etc.

Lose weight                                               …so that I feel healthier, take longer hikes, etc.

Watch less TV / cut back on Facebook     …so that I can spend more time outside and with loved ones

The “shoulds” can serve a purpose, but something happens when we set out to live by them: we have trouble living up to them. What if we instead focused our energies on what we really want (and may be terrified by) instead of what we think we should do? Now we’ve stepped into the realm of intentions, and intentions are simply more empowering. “I’m going to go on amazing hikes, spend more time with family and friends, and take an unforgettable trip this year.” Now that’s how to get the year started!

A side note on “shoulds”: Kimberly just today sent me the most amazing piece on The Crossroads of Should and Must. It’s such a beautiful reflection. You won’t regret reading it.

A guided reflection as we begin a new year

I had so much fun thinking about intentions yesterday with the gang at The Yoga Hive. We went through a series of questions, starting with 2014 reflections and moving into 2015 intentions. The positive energy was palpable when participants were prompted to turn to the person next to them and share their wildest dreams. The noise level was through the roof (I’m so glad Kimberly had chimes handy to regain the group’s attention).

For most of us, transitioning into a new year is a time for taking stock and reflecting on what we want out of this ONE LIFE. And the move from resolutions to intentions indicates that we’re beginning to recognize that we’re the ones who are steering the ship. We can focus on what makes us come alive, not what should. We focus on strengths, not weaknesses. We put being ahead of doing. And we practice a gentleness with ourselves, and in doing so, let go of some of those hard and fast rules we’ve always held onto.

Here are the questions we covered yesterday:

  1. What kind of year have you had?
  2. What are you celebrating?
  3. How did you practice resiliency and gentleness?
  4. What can you do this year that makes you come alive?
  5. What’s one thing you dream of doing but haven’t done yet? (this one got peoples’ attention!)
  6. What are three words for the kind of year you hope to have?*
  7. What intention do you want to set today?

*Examples: joyfulness, stillness, gratitude, “must,” or things more tangible – Mexico, marathon, etc.

You can easily spend some time with these questions on your own, and I hope that you will. Or you can do as we did in class and go through the exercise with a buddy. These are the kind of powerful questions that are used in coaching as clients deliberately contemplate and work toward their best lives. For a free, no-strings attached coaching session as you begin a new year, email me at amy@cycleforward.org. 


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