Before you head down that road, consider this: The act of setting direction for your life can’t just happen once a year. It is a lifelong process that unfolds each day. Life is not shaped by short-term sprints toward something outside of yourself, but by setting intentions, which are conscious shifts in the way you approach life.
Be clear about what you want
Just as you would check a map before you start driving, check in with your personal roadmap every so often. The New Year’s beginnings and our natural tendency toward inward reflection during winter make this a great time for a deeper examination of all you hope to do. But don’t make an intention just because you think it’s the right thing to do. Get clear on what you want first. This means moving out other people’s intentions for your life and releasing outdated ideas about what you used to want.
Daily meditation is a good way to step away from external distractions to figure out what you really want out of life (and if your intention is to start meditating daily, this takes care of it!). Make the practice simple: find a quiet, comfortable spot and close your eyes for at least five minutes. Don’t try to solve any problems or do anything; just use the time to experience whatever happens -- don’t run toward or away from it. Meditate with consistency and you will begin to unlock a deeper understanding of who you really are. You’ll soon see what your higher self truly wants, and become more willing to release the things that aren’t important.
When you are clear on an intention, write it down and visualize it as if it has already happened. In your mind’s eye, place yourself in this new aspect. See what it looks like. Feel your emotional state as a result of this shift. Even if it does not seem real or possible at that moment, acknowledge your ability to experience what you desire.
As you go through this exercise, pay attention to any emotions, attachments or expectations that arise. Release them by creating a rose about 18 inches in front of you and placing in it anything that has become lit up by seeing this intention come to life. Release the energy by tossing a little bomb at the rose or lighting a match beneath it. Repeat this practice until you have let go of any charge or attachment to the outcome.
Perfection is unattainable
Setting an intention does not mean that you get to control every detail of the outcome. It is a lot like planting a garden: you put the seed in the ground and give it the nourishment it needs. Sometimes the seed turns into a beautiful plant. Sometimes it doesn’t have the right conditions to flourish. Other times, the plant grows in a way that you had not anticipated. And at some point, all plants need pruning.
Trying to control the outcome of an intention is a sign that you are living in self will. Create your intention and hold it in your hand gently as if it were a feather. Don’t cling to it, and don’t let it fall to the wind. By doing so, you will release roadblocks to enjoying a fulfilling -- and sometimes surprising -- life.