Previously published on Forbes
As the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve, many people welcome a fresh start with a sense of hope and anticipation. You may feel like you have a clean slate, a chance to start over and create something new. Instead of making a list of resolutions, I have a ritual that helps me navigate the year ahead with purpose and intention: choosing a single word to guide me throughout the year.
The practice of selecting a single word as a guiding principle for the year may sound simple, but its impact can be profound. My word for this year is create, a term that effortlessly found its way to me as I celebrated the start of a new year. Create encapsulates my intention for the entire year. It serves as a beacon, reminding me of what matters to me, and inspiring me to take new actions.
To help my brain connect to my word for the year, I make a collage of images that evoke the essence of my word. These images — cut from magazines, printed from the internet or personal photographs — are a symbolic representation of my intention. My brain likes symbols; they’re like shortcuts. I keep this collage on my desk as a daily reminder of my intention.
Intentions have a certain mystical quality that’s hard to explain. Whether you opt for a single word or craft several sentences to guide you, the essence remains the same: It's about living life with purpose and direction, refusing to leave your life to chance. You have a say in how your year unfolds, and your intentions act as a roadmap to guide you along the way.
Living intentionally is a concept that resonates with me. I believe that each of us has the power to shape our lives.
For those who may be skeptical of intentions or prefer a more structured approach, you can certainly call them goals. The mind often appreciates the clarity and tangibility that the word goal provides. It makes your intentions feel more actionable and measurable, aligning them with a traditional framework.
Regardless of the terminology you choose, the point is to take time to reflect on the year ahead: What will you be satisfied with at the end of the year? What part of your life needs nurturing and focus? Set an intention. Revisit it frequently. Or let it linger in the background of your mind. Sometimes events have a way of unfolding even when we're not actively focused on an intention.
At the core of this practice lies the belief that you are the author of your experience. You have a unique part to play in the grand unfolding of life.
So, what story will you tell for yourself over the next year?
As you begin this new year, embrace your role as an author and remember that you have the power to shape the narrative of your life. Set an intention or a goal for yourself. Whether it's a single word or a more detailed plan, the act of consciously shaping your year can lead to growth and fulfillment.
What will you create in the days and months ahead? Only time will reveal the beautiful story that awaits you.