I spent most of my childhood doing what I thought my parents and teachers wanted, and then I spent my adulthood doing “the right thing,” despite not really knowing what that accomplished for me personally or what the right thing was, anyway. I ignored the little voice saying maybe I should try something different for a long time.
Then I became a single mom. I’d failed at the one thing most important to me, despite trying my hardest for my whole life up to that point. Having done “the right thing” and gotten the wrong result, it was time to try the thing I thought was best for me and my child. This didn’t mean that I set out to scrutinize others or put myself first at the expense of everyone else. I simply started to look at my own beliefs by giving my perspectives the same weight as a stranger’s expectations. Imagine that. Nowhere is this more evident than in my New Year’s Resolutions.
Before I had children, my New Year’s Resolutions were serious business. I wrote them down and tracked my progress. I focused on my future ambitions and where the gaps were. My goals were to work on things like reduce spending, exploring the most affordable car insurance, and to exercise three times a week, and eat more healthy foods. Dull to write down, and even duller to execute.
Now after having been set free by my failure, knowing who I am and my experiences in life, I decided to make resolutions that I might actually enjoy. But before I made this year’s list, I had to change the name because Resolutions come with baggage. Enter my “New Year’s Intention List”: My Intention List includes the following critical items:
- Grow spiritually
- Continue to be kind and polite
- Stop making unworthy people a priority
- Practice empathy
- Hug more
- Keeping an open mind
Notice the lack of measurement – no frequency required, no regular patterns needed, no starting or ending time listed. Not a single goal was lifted from a self-help book or December magazine issue. If I want to do it, it went on the list. Accomplishing my New Year Intentions makes me a better person to the people in my life. The list will live on my notepad in my phone and will be updated throughout the year. Items will come and go. While the contents of the list may vary, the guiding principles do not. My Intention List is about me first – what I want and need to feel happy and fulfilled, what sounds fun, and what feels right. The list isn’t bogged down by obligations that make success feel difficult. It exists to bring me back to myself, to force me to think about what I want and need and focus on making my own happiness.