Dear 2020—bye!

We are so over you and ready to move on to better days. As we head into the new year, let’s take a page from pandemic life and do things a little differently when it comes to planning out 2021.

So, rather than doing what you’ve done every year (making a resolution that may last for only a few months) how about setting an intention instead?

You may be asking, “What’s the difference between a resolution and intention?”

A resolution is a specific goal to achieve your desired result. It often is directed at changing a part of ourselves that we think is flawed or needs improvement; this might be working out more for weight loss, getting a promotion or eating healthier to lower your cholesterol.

An intention, on the other hand, is an overarching idea of how you want to live your life that aligns with your values and in turn drives your actions and decisions.

It can be a feeling that you want to embody such as being calm, productive, flexible, loving or understanding. While a resolution is targeted to a specific part of your life, an intention can have widespread positive effects on various aspects of your life so that you can be the best version of yourself.

If you’re ready for an abundant new year, here are the steps for setting your intention:

1. Reflect: Look back on this past year and identify the areas in your life that you want to continue to cultivate to feel most fulfilled. To flush out these ideas, think about the things you want more of, less of and how you want to feel every day. It can help to think of the challenges you experienced and what traits would have been useful for you to thrive in those situations.

2. Brainstorm: After reflecting, write out all the words or phrases that pop up in your mind. The options here are limitless, as long as it is framed in a positive way. Then look over your list and pick two or three options that stand out to you. Visualize how a day would look if you were guided by each of these intentions. You may pick the word or phrase that seems scary and challenging to encourage growth or you may pick the intention that lights a fire within and inspires you.

If you would like some extra help with finding an intention, I invite you to try out my guided meditation on intention setting on my podcast, Responding to Life: Talking Health, Fertility, & Parenthood.

3. Live with intention daily: Once you’ve selected your 2021 intention, it’s time to put it into action. Ideally, if you could jumpstart your day with a quick 2 to 3-minute meditation, you could reflect upon your intention and breathe it into your being, allowing it to then manifest throughout your day. If daily meditation seems too challenging, each morning during your routine, ask yourself the question, “How am I going to be [insert intention] today?” and have it serve as a guiding principle weaving into that day’s actions.

4. Live with intention over time: Thinking long term, you can create a road map of how you want to achieve your intention in various parts of your life. To make it less daunting, you can break up your big picture intention into smaller actionable steps.

For example, with an intention of being more flexible, divide this into your mom-life and work-life. Within mom-life, you can aim to be more flexible with your toddler’s schedule and then to eventually be more flexible with your responses to their big feelings. Then do the same with other avenues in your life applying that overarching intention into smaller steps to aim towards overtime.

5. Consider family intentions, too: Intentions don’t just have to be for grownups. A great new year’s tradition that you can start with your kids is to come up with a family intention that all of you can strive to achieve once a day.

For example, this past year, my five children and I focused on gratitude. Each day we shared one gratitude which allowed us to build up the muscle in our brain to start looking at life from the lens of abundance and being thankful. It served as a daily reminder for me and my kids to go through our days seeking out things to be grateful for knowing that we would have to share something later. It helps keep everyone accountable and on track to have a group intention that gets shared daily.

2021 is our chance to turn a new chapter of our lives into something more meaningful and hopeful after a year of uncertainty and fear. As you gear up for this new beginning, give yourself the gift of time to reflect upon what qualities can help you achieve a life of balance and purpose. The beauty of the new year and any new beginning is that we get another chance to hit the reset button and start again in a meaningful and mindful way.

Here’s to a 2021 filled with abundance and positivity in all aspects of your life!