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  • Writer's pictureAmy Pinnell, MSW, RSW

How to Set Intentions for the New Year

Updated: Jan 11, 2022

After hearing many of my clients express feeling disheartened or fearful about setting New Year's resolutions for 2021, I decided to share this guide for transitioning into the New Year. By the end of this blog post, you will have concrete tools to facilitate closure of this past year and invite hope and intention into the New Year.

End 2020 with Ease and Grace

As 2020 comes to a close, it is time to get still, go inward and reflect on the year.

This is a practice I do every year, but this year it feels more essential than ever. 2020 has brought a drastic amount of change, disappointment, and grief on a global level. We had to change and adapt in unexpected ways, often in ways that felt unnatural or uncomfortable. We didn’t just experience one loss but had 10 months of cumulative losses and sustained uncertainty, putting many of us into survival mode.

We have learned, lost, and grown, over and over until we felt exhausted and depleted.

As we enter Winter, the coldest months with the least amount of sunlight, you may notice a shift in your mood, especially if you usually experience seasonal depression. Winter is a season to rest and rejuvenate. After the year we have had, you know that we need it.

It is a time to go inward and care for those parts of ourselves that are aching and tired.

Give yourself permission to slow down, to rest, to reconnect with yourself and with nature. This can be incredibly healing during this time. When we ground and recenter, we may notice feelings and emotions we have not processed. Before we can have a fresh start in the new year, with new intentions, we must process and let go of this past year.

The following are some journal prompts and a 3-minute meditation to guide you through this process. Take your time sitting with these questions, and write, draw, or paint your answers and feelings to each. Allow yourself to feel what arises, knowing that it will pass. Be gentle with yourself in this process, sprinkling in self-compassion and self-care as needed.

Journal Prompts for Letting go of 2020:

· What did 2020 encourage me to face?

· What was the most challenging part of this year? How did I overcome this?

· What moments in 2020 brought me the most joy?

· What am I ready to leave behind from 2020? What do I want to let go of?

· What do I want to bring from 2020 into 2021?

3 Minute Guided Meditation for Letting go of 2020: Click here to access

Setting Your Intention for 2021

Entering a new year, it can be helpful to start off with an intention. Rather than setting new year’s resolutions or goals, I encourage you to set an intention. The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. You cannot predict what challenges you will face in 2021. However, you can choose HOW you want to ride the waves of change and uncertainty.

You can choose what anchor you want to return to when things are challenging, overwhelming, or downright terrifying.

Your intention can be a single word or a phase.

Some examples of intentions include:

· Stay grounded

· Make space for play

· Let go of guilt

· Look for the light

· Trust

3 Minute Guided Meditation for Setting Your New Year's Intention: Click here to access

Once you have your intention, write it down, paint it, create a visual you can post on your wall, and come back to it again and again. Your intention is your guidepost and your anchor as you navigate this upcoming year. I have included some additional journal prompts that may help you further explore your intention.

Journal Prompts for Embracing 2021:

· What do you need as you enter this new year? What is your heart asking for?

· What will be your intention, word or phrase for the year?

· How will this intention guide you during uncertain or challenging times?

· How will this intention help you invite hope and joy in the new year?

May you enter into this new year with strength and resilience.

May you enter into this new year with lightness, hope, and joy.

Amy Pinnell, MSW, RSW Brave Spirit Counselling


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