Wednesday, February 22, 2017

6 questions for setting intentions for 2017

I started writing this after Christmas, and then totally forgot about it. So I finished it today!

6 questions for setting intentions for 2017, which I have modified into 7 questions. The original 6 came in a blog post over at Medium, from Jessica Semaan, Lebanese poetess who "writes about love, life and what we are scared to talk about. Always unfiltered. Always from the <3"

I like her approach because it's so much making resolutions, which so often fail and then we feel or get depressed about the failure. These questions feel to me to be much more well-rounded to our humanity, our spirit, and our grounding by looking at experiences, relationships, growth, self-care, and approach to the world. On new year's day, which was a Sunday in 2017, my sermon was about looking toward 2017 and no so much making resolutions (see my previous danger statement on those), but to face it as a new slate in which one can strive to be better. It's an ambiguous term, "better", but I like it more than trying to achieve some specific, and perhaps far too ambitious, goal. Instead of "I'm going on a diet!" say, "I'll eat better." Instead of, "I'll exercise every day!" say, "I'll be better at taking time to exercise." Or instead of, "I'll get the novel written!" say, "I'll be better about fanatically protecting my writing time." And as the preacher, my suggestion was to be better at being Jesus' disciple.

I also offered the 1% rule. This is something I first came across last year in some reading of a blog post somewhere, and then started seeing in more places. The idea of the 1% rule is that we don't set the goal to be perfect, but to be 1% at the end of today than I was this morning at whatever skill one wants to improve. I'll be 1% better at being a disciple today than I was yesterday. I'll be 1% at writing at the end of today. I'll be 1% better at being a dad or a mom or a lover or a salesperson or a caregiver or a sibling or a mail carrier or a grocery clerk... I'll be 1% better at being generous, compassionate, merciful, hopeful... I'll be 1% better at not being sarcastic, caustic, ridiculing, bullying, greedy...

See the difference?

Here are the suggestions:

1) What are 1–3 experiences you want to have in 2017 [maybe: skydiving, travel to another state, go to a rally/protest, swim in the ocean, eat at a fancy restaurant, help someone learn English...]

2) What are 1–3 relationships you want to focus on deepening in 2017 [maybe: mother, father, aunt, boss, someone you knew as a kid but have lost touch with, a neighbor, or maybe even yourself]

3) What are 1–3 ways I'd like to get out of my comfort zone in 2017? [maybe: stay away from Facebook, move to a new city, do something you dread (attend a funeral; visit someone in a nursing home; speak publicly, learn to drive a stick shift), finish that book or short story that you haven't finished because you fear what it would be like to complete it; hang out with people not like you (maybe you need to go hang out a dive bar with working class folks; or maybe you need to go hang out at the bar that the Wall Street or educated professorial class are at]

4) What are 1–3 ways I want to show care and love to myself in 2017? [maybe: take all the vacation I am allowed at work; not check work email outside of work time; start riding a bike; upgrade those clothes that you don't like but feel like you don't deserve to spend the money to replace (you do deserve it - go for it!), turn the phone off for a night or a day or a whole weekend, eat better, take up something you've always wanted to do and don't feel guilty for spending the time or money doing it, saying "no" to things that you aren't interested in or don't really have the time to do]

5) How do I want to be feeling exactly a year from now? [maybe: happier, more centered, more at peace with myself and the world, more energetic]

6) What is the word or phrase for my year in 2017? [this is a tough one! What will guide you through the year? I don't even want to offer suggestions here for fear of contaminating your creativity and your deepest need]

I will also add a seventh one, something else I came across last year as a way to frame positively a negative, and a way to stay on target for the year.

7) What will I say "I don't do that" about in 2017? [Maybe: I don't re-schedule time with my family; I don't skip my exercise dates; I don't work overtime if I've made plans with friends; I don't eat fried foods; I don't check work email when I'm on vacation; I don't disappoint my lover by failing to show up; I don't say "no" and then feel guilty about it (or maybe "I don't say "yes" to everything that is requested from me")]

So instead of saying, "I will exercise every day", schedule your times and then say, "I don't skip my exercise times." Or reframe it as "I'm the kind of person who doesn't skip their exercise time."

Saying, "I don't do that..." is a way to keep focused, and make sure that you get the experiences, work on the relationships, do the self-care, find ways out of your comfort zone ("I don't let fear keep me from trying"!), to feel the way you want to feel next year.

Best wishes and all blessings to you in 2017!

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