Sacred Bow Challenge: Review Your Year and Set Intentions for 2020

Don't think about making resolutions until you read this.

By MJgraphics/Shutterstock
By MJgraphics/Shutterstock

For the month of December, invite you to join my Sacred Bow Challenge (“bow” rhymes with “cow” as in “take a bow”) — it’s a way to become more conscious about how close out the year and enter into the new year.

The challenge is about:

  1. Reflecting back on 2019 to see what you’ve learned, acknowledge what you accomplished and have gone through. Getting clear on patterns and struggles, seeing victories clearly.
  2. Setting intentions for 2020. This isn’t a “New Year’s resolutions” kind of thing, but being conscious & intentional about how we enter the year. What habits would you like to create?
  3. Setting structure so that we can hold to those intentions as best we can.

As we move through a busy holiday season and the year comes to an end, I’ve found that it’s useful to take a little time to be intentional.

Reflect on 2019

How can we learn from what we did this year, so that we can use it to grow? This is about looking back at how the year went, how we did with our intentions and goals, what happened for us — without judgment. Just getting clear, so that we can learn.

For example:

  • Did you have any great accomplishments this past year? Make a list of the things you’re proudest of, so that you can really appreciate your own efforts. And so that you can reflect on what you did right.
  • Did anything big happen for you? Having a baby, getting a new job, moving to a new place, learning a new language. Appreciate your efforts here too, or be grateful for those who have supported you.
  • How did you do with habits you tried to change or form? What did you do right? What got in the way that you can adjust for?

You can see the value of this reflection — it’s a way to appreciate and be grateful, but also to see what’s been going on, what you can change, what you did right that you can keep doing.

Set Intentions for 2020

This isn’t about setting goals or resolutions, although it can be pretty similar. Setting intentions is about moving into the year intentionally, and not just mindlessly.

Setting intentions might be something like:

  • Deciding what you want to focus on, in terms of projects and habit changes
  • Deciding what one thing you’d really like to dive deeper into
  • Getting clear on a certain pattern you’d like to shift
  • Making a strong intention to improve your relationship(s)
  • Setting an intention of mindfulness and practice
  • Deciding you want to finally get healthy and do everything you can to make that happen
  • Setting a block of time aside for writing every day

It’s like goals, but without attachment to outcome.

And so that they’re not like resolutions, which you might drop after a few weeks … it’s important to hold your intentions front and center. And to create structure in your life so that the intentions are more likely to happen.

Creating Structure for Your Intentions

It’s one thing to set intentions, it’s another to make them more likely to actually happen.

But it’s important to remember that this is not about attachment to outcome — if the intentions don’t happen as we fantasize, we’re not going to beat ourselves up or feel like a failure. Setting the intention makes it more likely to happen, but we can’t absolutely control that.

The best way to make the intentions likely to happen is to create structure. Some examples:

  • Create a daily (or weekly) block of time for one of your intentions
  • Create reminders (physical and digital) so you don’t forget
  • Create accountability so you stay with your intentions even when things get off track
  • Join a program or course to help set you up with the right environment
  • Possibly create rewards or consequences, if they’ll be helpful
  • Have weekly and monthly reviews, so that you can adjust your structure as needed and learn from what’s been happening

These are just a few of the ideas, but you can see that with these elements in place, you’ll have the structure you need to make your intentions likely to happen.

Originally published on ZenHabits.

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