I am typically not a puzzle person, but I bought one for Thanksgiving 2019 thinking it would be a fun diversion for those family members who are not into watching endless hours of football. While we managed to work on it a little bit, it mostly sat unattended for much of 2020 - SIP and all - until we finally finished it New Year’s Eve morning. Yay!
During the course of working on it, I was often struck by how when looking for a piece, I thought I knew what it should look like - what colors it had, or what shape it was - and I often found myself frustrated after carefully checking each remaining piece to no avail.
It wasn't until I returned sometime later with a fresh set of eyes and a different perspective that the piece miraculously appeared in front of me, instantaneously looking NOTHING like I thought it would but fitting perfectly in place.
And so it is with New Year’s intentions.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals and vision for the coming year, and that inevitably leads me to thinking about my intentions. I choose to call them that instead of resolutions because the latter to me seems like something is ‘broken’ that needs to be fixed.
There is a rigidity and discipline to a resolution – if I resolve to lose weight by quitting chocolate or wine, I am immediately a failure if I decide to have a glass with dinner, or my favorite dark chocolate treat for dessert.
Living with intention is stating a desire to live a healthy lifestyle, which pulls me towards it, and gives me room to be human. I can exercise, eat well and cut myself some slack for indulging once in a while without beating myself up. My intention is about how I want to feel, and how I want to show up in my life. It’s not about punishing myself for failing to adhere to a specific image of how it should look.
On New Year’s Day, I participated in an online visioning class where we created a vision board. Not realizing this until it was too late to prepare, I decided to pull out my vision board from a workshop I ran in January of 2020.
I was curious to see how much of it was laughably inaccurate given the pandemic, but as I reflected on it, I realized that many of the feelings I wanted to feel and the photos I pasted to the board actually came true.
Like the puzzle pieces, they just looked nothing like I thought they would.
You see, my vision board wasn’t filled with rigid resolutions at which I would fail or succeed. Instead it was filled with the feelings I wanted to feel, and how I wanted to show up during the year. It was filled with my intentions.
Words like ‘Fun’, ‘Worthy’, ’Kind’ and ‘Connected’ spoke to how I wanted to be as a friend, a sister and a mom. While these moments weren’t shared over a glass of wine or a meal, in 2020 I found plenty of ways
to share a laugh and connect with friends over zoom or a board game on our family vacation.
And with all the heartbreak and unrest, I found ways to focus on those things I could control and try not to get bogged down with the things I couldn’t: I marched, I cried and I dropped off bagels and coffee for nurses at the local hospital COVID wing. I donated money to people in need and causes that I cared about and I pushed myself to consider possibilities about myself that I never knew existed. In many ways it was incredibly painful, but through it all, I showed up the way I intended – ‘Resilient’ ‘Kind’ and ‘Strong’.
While my board had lots of pictures of travel given the plans we had for the year, even though they didn’t turn out to be as grandiose as I thought, they were even more meaningful because I spent them with my family during a time when such gatherings were rare, and I may have previously taken them for granted. Hello ‘Grateful’.
How often have you looked for that perfect thing in your life - knowing exactly what it should look like only to have it show up and look totally different, yet still fill your heart and make you happy?
Or, on the flip side, it shows up exactly like you wanted it to but didn't make you happy at all?
As you think about what you want for the year, consider the intention you want to have. What you want more of in your life. How you want to feel.
You never know – it may just show up looking nothing like you thought it would, but even better than you could have ever imagined!
Happy New Year!