A revision of my 2013 piece
In 2013, I wrote this NYE intention ceremony piece after discovering a journal entry for 12/31/12 where I had listed my goals for 2013. By the end of 2013, I realized I achieved all of them minus a few odds and ends that were largely due to laziness. That piece is lengthy and requires a deep retrospection on your past year, reviewing highlights and lowlights. If you’re down for a deep retrospective dive, check it out.
That said, as I get to the end of this year… I feel called to write a new version that can pack a punch in a shorter process. One catch though, it’s shorter but not easier. This practice leans into discomfort as the catalyst to growth. It allows us to simultaneously dump baggage gently while gearing up for the New Year.
This piece is written quasi “Choose Your Own Adventure” style. Under each Bold heading, you’ll see the assignment. You can choose to just read the bold sections, do the assignments and zip on through. Following each assignment section however, there will be an italicized heading that says My Experience. If you want more clarity or to know how this assignment works for me / played out in my life — read that.
You can do this practice alone or with a friend or partner. Don’t share what you write unless you feel OK with that. “Protect your magic,” as my friend Fadia says. It might take longer to read this than do this, I think… so I recommend reading it first if you can manage.
Journal / paper (no typing)
A good pen (I can only write with Pilot G-2 07s… true story)
Music (if it inspires you… I prefer Tycho, Ludivico Einaudi or Philip Glass for writing)
Candle and/or incense if that’s your thing (definitely no harsh overhead lighting)
Here we go!
NYE Intention Practice
Set up your environment so you feel good. Maybe have a glass of tea or water, but don’t drink alcohol or take any drugs (and yes, I mean even weed or shrooms). We are operating with sobriety since we’ll manifest through sobriety.
I like to start with a short grounding and/or centering meditation or prayer off the app “Insight Timer.” It’s a free meditation app and there are a ton of guided meditations (for all kinds of faiths too). Some are as short as one minute. It’s important to leave your day (and year) behind when you start writing because you don’t want outside influences clouding your vision. If sobriety is uncomfortable for you, I recommend getting “high off your own supply” with a breathwork video like this.
Here we go…
1. What is your word?
Get quiet and ask yourself, “What is my word for 2023?” Now, you’ve probably read something like this in other NYE practices before. Maybe you’ve chosen your fuzzy feel good word and put it on your vision board or in your journal. This is not that. This is a dig deep moment.
What one word would absolutely change your life if you embraced it wholeheartedly as a verb. There’s nothing wrong with choosing “abundance” or “love.” But in order to create change our words need to be action oriented. Here’s an example,
Let’s say your word for 2023 is Love. You’d probably be thinking you want to manifest more love or a relationship in your life… that’s great. What happens when you encounter someone you really dislike? How could you use that word then? How could you actively love yourself more? How could you love your enemies more? When love becomes a verb, your life will dramatically change vs. waiting around for the magic vision board fairy to plop your perfect partner in your lap. Our manifestations are a direct result of our actions.
So dig deep and choose a word that you’re ready to take action with.
I have been reading Self Compassion by Kristin Neff recently and had my hair blown back by a very simple practice in her book. She says that we are often hard on ourselves because we overestimate our abilities in every area. (Reread that again.) So in order to cultivate self compassion and let yourself off the hook, she has you write down what you’re actually above average at, what you’re only average at and what you’re below average at. (It’s a humbling process, if you’re rigorously honest.)
Doing this exercise made me mad. I scribbled down my answers. For some I was confused, “Am I actually average at X or am I above average?” It took me days to get to the bottom of the truth for me. Here’s what I realized…
I am above average in a good number of things in my life. However, it has yielded mixed results at times because my sense of discipline is a solid average. Sometimes it’s even below average. (Here comes that discomfort again.) If I became as disciplined as I’m capable of being I know my life would transform.
I originally thought my word for 2023 was going to be abundance… however, I have realized over the last few weeks… my actual word for 2023 is discipline.
2. What will you leave behind?
Knowing your word and knowing you will take action with it, we can now set the stage for what we will discard. Again, this section is about discomfort. Answer the question, What am I leaving behind?
The answer should be YOU oriented and not others oriented. Dig deep and get quiet to find the truth. Hint: You will know your answer is the right answer if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Here are some examples:
“I’m leaving behind checking out by engaging in x addiction when I feel discomfort instead of dealing directly with my problems.”
“I’m leaving behind working for jobs I hate and having financial issues because I mismanage my funds and won’t work hard…”
“I’m leaving behind making excuses for my bad eating habits when I know I am just lazy and I also know I truly want to lose weight.”
The antonym to discipline is chaos, disorder, permissiveness, neglect and reward. Part of what I’ll leave behind in 2023 are behaviors where I neglect my health (emotional / physical / mental) in favor of a quick reward. I’ll be more specific in my journal as to how this works out, but for the general reader, this informs you as to how I’ll frame and answer this question.
What do you want?
This one is easy. What do you want for next year? What are your goals? The number one thing I say to coaching clients is, “You can’t get what you want if you don’t know what it is.”
The irony is, we live in a society in love with problems. We need to be in love with solutions. You should be able to more vividly describe your goals and dreams than all of your current issues. But most can’t because we love to be in love with our problems. Admit it. It’s the first step to freedom.
If you know what you want (i.e. your intentions or your goals), your motivation becomes a ladder to success. If you don’t, it’s another two week false start that will fall apart when discomfort greets you (and it will). I’ve been going down a rabbit hole lately on David Goggins* (arguably, the most disciplined / crazy man alive) and one of things he says that I love is,
“We like … very quick fixes in life, we want the 6-minute abs approach to life. Nah man, there’s no permanent in that.”
If we are building for results that are permanent, there must be discomfort. Things can be easy and also be uncomfortable. Two things can be true.
I know quite a few people who have sobriety dates of New Year’s Day. Mine was just before the Fourth of July in 2008. Having a date that I didn’t want to give up was sometimes the only thing that kept me sober. It sustained me when I hit discomfort. I don’t buy into the BS that everyone breaks New Year’s resolutions, because I personally know people who made life changing decisions on New Year’s Day — and kept them. You can be one of those people too — if you want.
How will you get it?
In the world of goal setting, one tool often mentioned is a SMART goal worksheet (this one is my favorite). Regardless of how you plan to achieve your goal or intention, you need a plan to get there. So the tl;dr of this section is, get SMART about your intentions. Write at least 4 steps on how you’ll achieve your goal or intention.
When I got sober almost 15 years ago, 12-step recovery worked for me (and still does). I am not great at discipline (as we mentioned), so the structure of community helped me. This also works for me with fitness (accountability buddies). For others, self motivation is their key or reward-driven motivation (make a bet with a friend or family member).
Regardless of your path, know that you can’t just throw a goal on a piece of paper without a plan on how to get it. The plan should also include some discomfort and room for growth. For example, let’s say you want to attract a healthy relationship. You might think, “OK, I’ll join a dating app.” To me, that’s not a goal strategy, that’s a tactic. The strategy I would chase is, “Becoming the best future partner I can be and embodying the traits I want to find in someone else knowing that like attracts like.”
Here’s the practice summary followed by the story of the best NYE intention I ever set…
- Choose Your Word
- What Are You Leaving?
- What Do You Want?
- How Will You Get It? (Four tactics you will take to get there)
I met my husband six months after the worst break up of my life. The break up was so awful not because I was heartbroken, but because I felt humiliated. I had settled so hard and was treated so badly in the end.
It was a cold October night in 2012 and I was calling dude from an ER two blocks from his house. I was bleeding in the hospital and had been told I was miscarrying our child. He wouldn’t come. Two. Blocks. Away. To top it off, my mother had died five months earlier. I was low as low could be…
Sitting in that sterile ER alone and scared, something came over me. Instead of playing the victim, I realized I had created this situation because I allowed myself to be with someone who cared so little for me. (And he wasn’t the first, either.) It made me feel so gross. Right then, I told myself, “Never again.” And I kept that promise.
Two months later on New Year’s Eve, I wrote a list of what I wanted in a partner. I had done this before — but this time was different. I now had standards I had never had before. If I went out with someone and heard they also went out on a date with someone else? Bye. I wasn’t interested. If I was worried you wouldn’t like me if I was honest? I was honest anyway. If you hit on me and had a signifiant other (and I worked with celebs then so this happened sometimes), I’d smugly reply, “How’s your wife?” instead of answering your gross appeal.
I was tired of wishy washy guys in LA treating women like insurance policies in case a hotter girl may come along. I was tired of treating myself as if I wasn’t good enough. I was tired of astrology (I joke it’s for single women sorryyyyyy), waiting for phone calls to be returned, unsolicited opinions from single friends with bad dating habits, using dating apps when I had a gut feeling my guy wasn’t there and being the one who always gave when I wanted to receive.
I had a word: Love
I knew what I was leaving behind: people pleasing and dating sub par guys
I had a goal: attract a faithful partner
A plan to get there: choosing myself first, turning down or friend zoning a guy the moment I knew he wasn’t right, a list of what I wanted in a partner that I wouldn’t deviate from, no longer using dating apps (I always hated them) and a renewed focus to better myself instead of focusing on someone else.
In short, I had begun to choose myself. I realized I was the prize not them. 2.5 months after writing that NYE intention list, I met my husband (at SXSW) who was everything on that list. (You can peep us on my IG if you’d like.)
It takes action.
It takes discomfort.
But you / I / we can have it all if we can push through.
Happy New Year.
*I linked to a Joe Rogan interview of David Goggins because it’s a great intro primer on him. Whether or not you like Joe Rogan / his views etc. is not the issue. As my mom would say, “Take the meat and leave the bone.” The interview has some good nuggets.