Why December intentions are the new New Year's resolutions
Greetings from Düsseldorf, my lovely hometown!
I escaped the humidity of Ibiza and the lonliness I feel during the cold winter months to enjoy central heating and grounding family time.
I LOVE the weeks leading up to christmas - the smell, the feel, and the light of it all - nothing comes close to German christmas markets. But I really can’t do the frantic consumerism of December.
In addition to the shopping madness there’s the craziness of holiday parties, traffic, travel, general chaos and busyness. It’s enough to stress out even the most peaceful soul.
But what would happen if we decided to become the radicals who simplify the holidays and get down to the essentials?
December can be a much simpler, quieter period of closing out the year and embracing the coming year. Instead of getting carried away with consumerism you can be the mindful warrior who reflects and grows in order to show up as a better person for the world.
How about a month long process to start the new year fully aware and with intent?
I’m not talking about empty New Year’s resolutions - we’ve all been there - this process goes a little deeper.
Your mindful December:
Spend the first week of December reviewing your year, acknowledging your accomplishments, learning curves and big events. Taking notes on what you’ve learned and what you’ve struggled with, seeing where you’ve messed up and where you could grow.
Reflect on what you’d like to let go of moving forward, what you’ve been holding onto that isn’t serving you anymore. Releasing baggage, habits and struggles. Anything that is holding you back. Spend a few days practicing letting go. Journal on it, visualise yourself without it, so that you can be clear for the new year.
What loving and purposeful intentions would you like to set moving forward into the new year? What would you like to create? Who would you like to be? How do you want to practice? Take a bird’s eye view and look at the big picture of the coming year. Set some general intentions and be flexible in your approach.
Create a plan
This is my favourite part - now we’re going into specifics by making a monthly, weekly and daily plan. What baby steps can you take every day so that by the end of the year you are where you want to be?
Keep your new habits as small as possible in order to create momentum and consistency.
Instead of a 30 minute morning meditation start with just two minutes every day. You will always have two minutes. Instead of planning a full-on January detox aim to drink one large glas of water in the morning, and have a healthy breakfast to start the day.
The tiniest habits will have a snow ball effect. Create structure so that you can flexibly move with your intentions and keep checking your progress.
Simple but essential!
It’s a process of reviewing and letting go, so that we can learn from the last year and release old baggage and habits that are holding us back. It’s a process of looking forward mindfully, and creating a plan to be intentional about how we spend the next year of our lives.
So many of us neglect the act of looking back and just habitually continue with the minutia of our daily lives. We get caught up in the busyness of projects and events, and in the drama of unfolding family affairs. We don’t take stock, think about where we’ve been, and use that experience to continue to grow.
Make this a conscious December and set aside one week for reflection, one week for letting go, one week for your intentions, and the final week for creating structure.
Letting go is something very few of us do with intention, and the result is that we continue to carry forward baggage, pain and patterns that are getting in the way of who we really can be. Let’s let those float away into the atmosphere, so that we can be free to move into a new time and space without holding onto everything that came before.
Setting intentions and creating a structure to carry out those intentions differ from the usual goal-setting or New Year’s resolutions in a few important ways:
Goal setting and resolutions are more fixed on an outcome, whereas the intentional approach is about how you carry yourself through the day, how you’re practicing in each moment, and how you show up for your commitments and the people you care about.
Resolutions usually don’t have a solid structure for ensuring that they continue beyond a couple weeks. Our planning week will be all about setting structure so that we don’t just drop our intentions.
Our intentions are going to be more focused on meaning and purpose, on what we care deeply about, than on some fixed outcome.