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Setting Intentions for the New Year

Updated: Dec 18, 2019

Every New Year, people tend to turn their focus to things they don’t like about themselves and then form rarely-kept resolutions that end up just adding to the stress of an already stressed-out season. As an alternative to the common goals of losing weight and making more money, below is a set of gentle intentions that prioritize self-care and acceptance.

I will be kinder to myself

Let this year mark the end the cycle of beating yourself up. One of the most useless of human behaviors, the constant onslaught of inner abuse does no one any good. Some people think their out-of-control inner critic is a source of motivation, but it simply adds to your stress which in turn holds you back. When you hear that familiar voice chime in, simply notice its presence then place your attention elsewhere. I, personally, place my attention on something bigger and outside of me, like on someone who needs my help. It reminds me the world needs my contribution, and I don’t have time for self-diminishing thoughts.

I will slow down

We’ve all gotten ourselves in a big hurry. Part of that has to do with the false belief most of us have that being busy equals success and part of it is just the nature of modern life with its constant, shifting demands. Give yourself permission to slow it down this year. To do that, we must learn to determine what is relevant and then be sure to say no to what is not. Meditation greatly helps us in hearing our intuition which is what acts as our relevancy filter. For example, there are some days if I am feeling stressed, I run around trying to be productive, and I might tell my daughter I don’t have time to read her a story when she asks. Then my intuition kicks in a moment later, and I realize the dishes really don’t need to get done in this moment, and we have some unrushed time together.

I will favor process over perfection

In the outcome-oriented society in which we live, most of us feel like we are failing a good part of the time because we are not “there” yet. But there is no “there” there. There is no holy grail of happiness on the other side of achievements and goals, just more goals. The truth is we are all evolving, and it is a process. Perfection is actually the enemy to evolution because, with perfection, there’s nowhere to go. Wherever you are in your evolution is simply where you are on the ride. As long as you realize this and keep moving, the ride can be a joyful.

I will go outside of my comfort zone

Most of us are stuck in the ever-repeating known. The same thoughts we had yesterday, we have today. The same patterns of behavior from years ago still come creeping back. The same places, the same people, the same coffee with one sugar and a splash of almond milk. It’s a common misconception that the known is where we are safest, however, this is stagnation, and according to the laws of nature, stagnation beckons destruction. This year, look for areas you can break out of your comfort zone. Maybe it’s a new route to work, or a new hobby, or a different way of reacting to your partner. If it makes you a little nervous, all the better, that’s how you know you’re on the right track.

I will start a meditation practice. If I already meditate, I will renew my commitment

There’s a saying that the best time to learn to meditate was twenty years ago, but the next best time is now. Committing to a new or existing practice is merely a matter of making a deal with yourself to make it non-negotiable. You may have reached a threshold of suffering from an over-stressed life or seen over and over again that happiness is not on the other side of outcomes and achievements. Once you’ve passed that threshold, and the importance of your inner experience of life surpasses your outer experience, then prioritizing a meditation practice becomes easier. For me, it was when I had the epiphany I was going to teach meditation. I figured if I was going to teach the stuff, I had better do it regularly twice a day. Nothing changed other than the mental shift to make it non-negotiable, and suddenly it was like the time opened up on its own.

Given the political drama that is presently playing out and the current environmental and humanitarian crises that are reaching a fever pitch, it seems needless to say that 2020 is going to be an intense year. This is the turn of a decade, and major shifts are happening everywhere. Now more than ever, we need to find peace and balance within in order to bring it to others. Even though the present, volatile state of the world can be daunting, times of great change can be the most dynamic and interesting times to be alive. I wish for all of us a year of harmony, understanding and unity.


Kristen Vandivier is an instructor of Vedic Meditation and the founder of The Vedic Method and Meditation Without Borders. She is regarded for her ability to make profound teachings relevant to everyday life and her mission of promoting meditation for social change. After completing an intensive curriculum of training under renowned Master Maharishi Vyasananda Thom Knoles, including a three-month immersion program in the Himalayas, Kristen returned to found her practice. She lives in Mill Valley with her husband and three small children.

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