New Year, More Intentional You

Instead of resolutions for a New You, consider a more thoughtful, intentional approach to change.

New Year, More Intentional You
(Image via Adobe Licence)

Every year, you change. Some years, you change only a little. Small things happen as the minor crises or joys of the weeks slip past. The kids get older, the homework gets harder to help with, and the after-school activities escalate. You start and finish projects at work, buy new things for your home, and get a new haircut; otherwise, life is relatively steady. 

In other years, you change more significantly. The rhythms of your life adjust to a new job, promotion, health crisis, empty nest, move, loss, divorce, a new relationship, or any of the myriad of things that will cause upheaval. 

The life you imagine for yourself evolves as the seasons change and people come in and out of it. Sometimes, something fundamentally shifts in how you understand yourself, see the world, or live your life. 

Or maybe that just comes with getting older and (hopefully) wiser as the years pass.😉

The end of the year is a time when people feel drawn to the idea of renewal. You will see ads for “New Year, New You” related to any number of things you probably don’t need. But there is a desire to reset, reinvent, or purge yourself of the bad habits of months past. 

There is a motivation for active change versus the more passive changes that happen over time.

I recently came across this quote from Adrienne Maree Brown:

"Change is constant. You can’t stop change, control change, or perfectly plan change. You can ride the waves of change, partner with change, and shape change."

This resonated as I’ve thought about goal setting and the ever-present New Year's resolutions that permeate this time of year. I don’t like the implication in “New Year, New You” that a huge change is necessary or even desired. It makes it seem that there’s something wrong with the current you (there isn't!).

I’d rather approach the idea of active change from the foundation that you are pretty great as you are, but there are always things you can work on or approach differently. It’s a more reasonable, sustainable view from “change it all” to “tweak a few things here and there.” 

So, what if instead of a “New Year, New You,” it was a “New Year, More Intentional You”? 

A You that is more thoughtful about the things in your life that aren’t working as well as they could, or a You that is more intentional about how you approach or do certain things. 

As you look to 2024, how can a more intentional You support the active change you want to make?

Let’s unpack those through the frames of partnering with and shaping change and riding the waves!

Partner with change

Change can be tricky. It’s often uncomfortable and will bring up the instinct to resist. It’s the push outside your comfort zone or a foray into the unfamiliar and unknown.

When I think of what it means to partner with change, I think about what partnership itself means. To partner with a person, you must cooperate and show up for one another. It requires trust and belief in a common purpose. 

To partner with change, then, is to partner with the future version of the person you want to become. It’s cooperating with them, showing up, and trusting that you have what it takes to become that person.

So, consider the things you know about yourself when you think about the active change you want to make. You need to be honest about potential challenges.

For example:

  1. What has blocked you in the past? Have you tried to go to the gym after work but are always too exhausted? Think about a different time of day. Could you do something shorter in the morning? Or maybe another type of fitness that doesn’t require the gym?
  2. Are you unsure what the first steps are, so you never quite get started? Hire a trainer, coach or therapist to help. Having an expert to get you started can go a long way to setting you on the right path and giving you the confidence you need to keep going.
  3. Do you know it’s easier to stick to things when other people are involved? Ask a friend to be an accountability buddy. Maybe they join a class with you. Or perhaps you join a team. Or maybe you ask them to check in on you once a week. It might help you stay committed when you have someone to tell you about your progress.

Be intentional about the challenges you can expect so you can ease the way for making this change. Be a partner to yourself.

Shape change

In my article, Take Aim: How To Reflect, Set Direction, and Make Progress In The Year Ahead, I use an archery metaphor in relation to goal setting:

  1. Check your bow: What can you learn from the past year?
  2. Plant your feet: What’s the target's general direction?
  3. Take aim: What processes will you implement to move you in the right direction?

The gist is the processes you set up and follow matter more than the outcome you are trying to achieve. Your success comes from the processes themselves. You shape the changes you want to make when you set those processes.

Instead of focusing on the outcome you want to achieve, consider what intentional steps you can take to move you in that direction. And then start. 

For example, shaping your change might look like:

  1. An hour spent on meal planning and prep every Sunday to set your weekly meals. If your meals are ready to go, you are less likely to default to takeout because you are too tired to cook.
  2. Reviewing your weekly schedule and booking specific times when you will practise your change, like reading, a new hobby, or time with someone you love. Visually seeing something in your schedule helps you mentally prepare to do it.
  3. Picking a YouTube video to follow along with for a new fitness routine and laying out your mat and clothes the night before a morning workout. They are small steps, but they encourage you to follow through. 

Shape the change you want, one small piece at a time.

Ride the waves of change. (Photo by Jamie Curd on Unsplash)

Ride the waves of change

As Adrienne Maree Brown says, "Change is constant. You can’t stop change, control change, or perfectly plan change.”  Change will happen regardless of what you do, so how will you ride it out so it goes in the direction you want?

Active change, where you partner with it and shape it, is demanding. It requires you to shift how you do things and step away from the familiar. It sometimes requires you to think about yourself differently and to show up when something feels hard. It requires you to adapt because life will happen and disrupt your carefully laid plans. 

You will get sick or feel tired, work will ramp up, your kids will need more of you, or something will make your day not go as planned. Your change might be more complex than you anticipated or take longer than you want; it might be frustrating and not what you expected. You might need to take a break from it or want to quit.

To ride the waves of change, the key is to notice. Notice your resistance and discomfort. Notice if something is not working. Notice when you stop showing up the way you want. 

And don’t be afraid to re-evaluate and adjust. When you think about your change, whether starting a new hobby, picking up an old one, adding more movement to your day, drinking more water, or spending more time with a loved one, think about why you wanted to make it. 

If it’s important to you, change the time of day, length of time, or frequency. Ask for help, remove other commitments, or try a different but similar thing. Make intentional decisions to fit your change in your life.

Don’t fight it. Ride the wave and see where it takes you.

You don’t need to change all the things. You don’t need to reinvent yourself as a New You. You might not even want to change anything! But if you do, approach it from a perspective of thoughtfulness and intention. 

Be an intentional You who is willing to trust your change is possible and be the partner who makes it happen. Be an intentional You who takes the small steps to shape the change to fit into this season of your life. 

It won’t be perfect because nothing ever is! But ride the wave as you experience how that change becomes the next (slightly different) version of you. 

Need to make a change but don't know where to start? Get in touch to talk about how I can help.