January 13th will be the first new moon of the year. If you are late to set new year resolutions or have already lost your motivation, a new moon ritual might be just the thing to start. Unlike a yearly resolution which loses its luster a couple of weeks in and feels more like a chore than a joy, setting intentions monthly opens up a year of real possibilities and growth.
When we set our sights on creating new habits, reaching for new goals, or just understanding what our desires are- there should be reflection first, then evaluation of process, then any necessary revision. Many new habits require several attempts before they become set in practice. If you have the opportunity to revise your plan, you can take into account new information, overcome unexpected challenges, and set yourself up to succeed, ultimately, through many smaller victories.
By allowing yourself monthly progress rather than demanding immediate conversion, you are more likely to see those intentions come to fruition and with less self condemnation along the way. A simple process for setting intentions is to use the monthly new moon, a traditional time to plant seeds of growth. If you surround your monthly practice with ritual, it becomes more meaningful and gives you a basic structure for practice.
The most important part of the ritual is actually setting the intentions, what are those things that you wish to address? Where do you want to go, what to do wish to learn? Since you are setting intentions only for the month ahead, progress is much more likely. Instead of making a resolution to lose weight this year, maybe your January intentions include eating no junk food or increasing the amount of raw food you eat. If your resolution is to find a new job, perhaps first intentions are to create an amazing resume and do more networking. Most experts recommend 2-3 intentions for the month, but no more than 10, otherwise focus is difficult.
You can add other things to your ritual that add to your anticipation and enjoyment of the practice, like a special place to set your intentions, which should be quiet and private. You can also prepare by lighting a sage smudge to clear negativity or a candle to bring light into the darkness. I recommend writing your intentions on paper and then focusing on each individually. Some write on two pages and burn one at the end of the ritual. Some will even prepare themselves with a special bath prior, cleansing oneself of negativity and the past.
If you are reading this after the new moon’s exact date, you can still get started this month. Generally, you want to make your intentions within 48 hours of the new moon. Start small, after all, in just 29 days you will be able to do it again, revising or adding as needed.
If you must make an annual resolution, make it be one to be kinder to yourself. To use words like “should” less often. Friend and author Beth Caldwell advises us to stop “should-ing” all over ourselves!” Try words like “I would like to… It would feel great to…” instead. It might surprise you how that frames your intentions, and changes the way they sound to you.
Maybe this is the year to try something different. After all, progress is generally made in small steps. Remember, all steps in the right direction will get you there, as long a you don’t give up at the beginning.