Happy new year! We’ll exclaim this wish to each other, and hear it from each other, over and over this week.
It’s a great sentiment. But what does it take? What will actually make 2015 a year that’s good and rich in what matters for us?
New year’s resolutions were invented for this type of thing. “I’ll lose 15 pounds”. “I’ll get a raise of $20,000”. “I’ll find the man (or woman)I’ll marry”.
But resolutions that are that specific tend to be brittle and quickly broken, like kindling.
My experience is that intentions are more powerful and enduring than resolutions. They allow for the fact that there are many players besides us, many needs besides our own, and situations we cannot anticipate. But intentions set our course. Without them, we have no particular course.
Intentions are supple and can bend with new situations that arise, like evergreen branches that curl to form a wreath.
When I hold clear intentions going into anything – a relationship, a road trip, a year — I find myself taking the actions that will realize those intentions.
For example, when I met my husband twelve years ago, my intention wasn’t just to have a relationship. I wanted a loving marriage. I was clear with him about that early on. And that’s what happened. (It’s taken ongoing intentionality to sustain my loving marriage :)).
To create a 2015 that’s rich in what matters, we decide: in what direction do we want to move? Do we want a repeat of the past year? Without clear intentions, repeating the prior year is our likely default.
Do we want to grow? Improve our relationships? Increase our physical health? Do we want to become better contributors? In our work lives? In our family lives? Through volunteer work for organizations we respect? What are our intentions?
How do we follow through on our intentions for 2015? We embrace the fact that they take our time. And we set intentions for how we use our time.
We all have 168 hours in a week. (Note: an Excel spreadsheet can come in handy here). Assuming we sleep eight hours/night, we have 5,840 waking hours/year. If we work full-time (I do) that takes about 2,000 hours/year. Let’s be generous and say it takes just as much time (40 hours/week) to feed, clothe and otherwise care for ourselves, pay our bills and be responsible citizens. That still leaves us with 1,840 free hours/year.
That means five full hours per day that we can devote to our intentions, if we choose. Personal and professional growth, improving our relationships, contributing to things greater than ourselves are all choices that we can exercise.
What do I intend for 2015?
Well, my 2015 moreless started in December 2014. I learned early last month that my 91 year old father and another family member have health care needs much larger than I had realized. I’ve been helping them navigate the labyrinth of medical care, so far via a dozen or so hours per week on the phone and online (they live out of state). But my 2015 will also be about spending time in person with them and their health care providers.
I’ll be honest: living out my intention to be loyal to loved ones like this makes me anxious at times. The health care world can be draining and confusing. It can seem like an endless river. But helping my family is meaningful to me. And I’m blessed that my job is flexible, so that my days can look like both work AND family, rather than work OR family. I intend to devote more care and time to my family in 2015 than I did in most of 2014.
Happy new year. What are your intentions for 2015? How do you want the 5,840 waking hours you have waiting for you in 2015 to serve your intentions?