I’m so excited because it’s that time of year again! Time to reflect on 2017 and set intentions for 2018. I’m not talking about resolutions but supercharged goals and intentions and tools that keep me focused on my vision of who I want to be and what I want to do and manifest in the next year. Magical, life enhancing stuff!
For the past two years, I’ve been using the My Shining Year Life Workbook to set goals and intentions, and it’s made such a positive difference! I’ve also been using a (recently discontinued) companion daily planner with pages for setting intentions at the beginning of each month and reflecting at the end of each month, which are monthly rituals I really look forward to. Since it’s the end of the year, this week I’ve been going through all the monthly reflection pages and am compiling a big list of all the dreams and goals that came true, the difficulties and challenges, the lessons I’ve learned, and what I’m immensely grateful for. It’s a deep and meaningful process that helps me to put the year in perspective, acknowledge the big and little things I have accomplished, see patterns, and LET IT GO with gratitude, to prepare for more wonderful things to come in the New Year.
It’s an opportunity for celebration and an invitation to cultivate self-compassion and equanimity and to reaffirm my inherent worthiness despite anything and everything that happened or didn’t happen during the year. It’s a time to realize that I am no better or worse than anyone else and to feel connected with everyone who struggles with human shortcomings and wants to feel good. Which is everyone.
In 2017, I checked off lots of goals, experienced huge personal challenges, and bombed abysmally in some ways. However, it’s been a big year for learning HUGE, pivotal lessons, and that list alone is massive and makes me grateful for all the challenges that contributed to so much deep learning and inner transformation.
It’s all grist for the mill, every bit of it. It all serves a purpose in our spiritual evolution, even the stuff that didn’t feel good at the time.
I have to admit that I’ve felt some sorrow acknowledging some of what I’ve experienced in the past year. Lots of whys: Why did I put up with some of the things I did? But it only hurts because hindsight is 20/20 and because I am wiser now as a result of what I have experienced. You can always look back and wish you had done things differently. But we have to give ourselves some credit and trust we did the best we could at the time with the understanding, experience, and resources we had. It’s useful to take an honest look at the patterns of the past year to understand ourselves better, especially if we can have compassion for ourselves rather than judgment.
Even though I have shed some tears this week, these realizations don’t sting as much as they would have if I hadn’t learned to be kind to myself, which is what I focused my attention on this year. And THAT is a HUGE personal victory for which I am profoundly grateful! Even if it doesn’t show on the outside, today I am very different than I was a year ago.
The New Year is a great opportunity to reflect on the past year, look for patterns, push the reset button, and envision a new path ahead. It doesn’t mean we have to put pressure on ourselves to be perfect going forward. Not at all. This time of reflection should be a time of joy and hope, connecting with our true essence, and re-envisioning how we can express it more authentically. It’s not about perfection. It’s about being authentic and true to ourselves!
Although the planner I’ve been using for the past two years has been discontinued, it’s okay because even though the process of using it has been so rich and fulfilling, I found the format too thick, bulky, and hard to open and flip through. Even before I learned it would be discontinued, I planned to create my own version because I found myself skipping certain sections every month that didn’t resonate.
So ta-da! I made my own customized planner! And if you’d like, you can make your own, too. In fact, I’ll share with you my monthly system of intention- and goal-setting because it is so fun and gratifying and has made such a difference in my life that I’d love for you to experience, too!
Customize an Ordinary Planner to Make It Awesome
Originally, I’d considered making a planner from scratch, including designing weekly and monthly page templates. But then I thought: Why reinvent the wheel? Why not work with something that’s already available and just needs a little tweaking to customize it to my needs?
So I shopped around for the most perfect planner I could find. I had to love the weekly and monthly layouts and overall design. It had to feel good in my hands and look nice. I decided on an At-A-Glance planner from Staples.
It didn’t knock my socks off straight off the shelf, but I saw possibilities in it. It had potential.
I didn’t love the cover. Red isn’t the color I would have chosen for a planner, but it is an energetic color that wakes you up and inspires action. I came up with a way to de-emphasize the redness by attaching inspiring quote pictures to the front cover and end pages. BAM! Instant, customized upgrade. I chose quote pictures that I created and that resonate strongly with my vision of how I want to grow in the new year. Quote pictures that could serve as a compass and keep me on track. I covered the front side of the pictures with clear packing tape so they’d better withstand daily use and then glued the cover photo on with tacky glue and affixed additional pictures to the inside cover and end pages.
Now it absolutely sparkled with the energy of what’s most important to me!
Then I went page-by-page through each week and wrote uplifting, alliterative adjectives before each day of the week. For example:
- MONDAYS: Miraculous, Manifesting, Magic
- TUESDAYS: Terrific
- WEDNESDAYS: Wonderful, Wealthy
- THURSDAYS: Thriving, Thankful
- FRIDAYS: Fun, Fearless, Fabulous
- SATURDAYS: Super, Spirited, Spectacular, Sensational
- SUNDAYS: Soulful, Shining
I also indicated all new and full moons, astronomical events (meteor showers, eclipses), holidays, birthdays, school vacations, and miscellaneous reminders.
Once I settle on a sacred word/theme for 2018 (which I think will be EMPOWER), I will write inspirational quotes related to that theme at the top of each weekly spread. Or perhaps that will be part of my weekly ritual. It’s all about staying focused!
My planner has a fabric cover that probably won’t wear well if it rubs up against other objects on a daily basis. Therefore, I store it in a plastic ziplock bag for an extra layer of protection.
Monthly Intentions & Reflections Journal
Now, the only thing missing from my planner was the intentions and reflection pages for each month, which is what made it beyond awesome. So I created a little workbook to serve that purpose. It features a photo for each month with an original, inspirational quote based on themes relevant to that time of year. Although I’ve been setting intentions and recording reflections faithfully on a monthly basis for the past two years with the planners I’ve been using, I like the idea of following a lunar cycle for the upcoming year. Therefore, I included the dates of the lunar cycle for each month to allow for that option. Then I made space for monthly:
- pleasures to experience
- mantra/affirmation/quote/word to focus on
- desired feelings
- goal-supporting resources
- inspirational question related to what’s happening in nature.
At the end of each month or lunar cycle, there’s space to reflect on accomplishments and successes, difficulties, gratitude, and lessons learned.
You could do this in a notebook (perhaps a three-ring binder with sections for each month) or purchase my 2018 Monthly Intentions & Reflections Journal, which is the resource I created for my own personal use.
Inspirational Bucket List
The secret sauce that provides a lot of material for my monthly intentions is a bucket list of things to do in the new year. Simply make a list of everything you can think of (up to 100 items) that you’d like to do and experience during the year. It can include anything, in any area of your life, no matter how large or small. (I included my 2016 list in this post, which might provide you with some ideas.) You might have a certain goal or project in mind that can be broken down into a number of smaller steps, which you can pencil into the relevant months of the intentions/reflections journal. Do the same with goals you want to focus on at certain times of year, such as travel goals, for example.
Although it’s certainly not necessary, I’ve grouped my bucket list into categories mostly borrowed from feng shui, including:
- Abundance & Prosperity
- Fame & Reputation
- Love & Marriage
- Family & Community
- Health & Body
- Creativity & Children (including a sub-category of nature photography goals)
- Spiritual Growth
- Skills & Knowledge
- Career & Life Journey
- Helpful People
- Organization (this is where I listed my decluttering goals).
At the beginning of every month when I’m filling out the Setting Intentions page, I refer to my bucket list to see if there’s anything from it to include in that month’s goals. That way, I don’t miss anything!
I’ve been keeping a daily gratitude journal for more than ten years now and wrote a blog post a few years ago about how that practice enriches and has transformed my life greatly. Since my monthly reflection page includes a section on gratitude, my gratitude journal goes hand in hand with the other resources to help me live intentionally and mindfully throughout the year. It’s lovely to review what I’ve been grateful for each month and to select the most wonderful “gratitudes” to record on the reflection page. Writing five things in my gratitude journal at the end of each day helps to raise my energy/vibration and promote positive feelings, and when you focus on gratitude every day, you find more to be grateful for!
Putting It All Together: The Magical Manifesting Bag
I carry my “Magical Manifesting Bag” with me everywhere I go! It includes:
- My Shining Life Workbook
- Customized daily planner
- Monthly Intentions & Reflections Journal
- Gratitude journal
- A folder of supporting/relevant materials
- Pens and pencils
- A pad of sticky notes
- An eraser
- Shiny star stickers (it’s the kindergarten teacher in me)
- Correction tape
- A glue stick.
I carry it everywhere because I’m constantly coming up with new ideas for what I want to do and how I want to express myself in the world! My Magical Manifesting Bag is like an extension of myself. Keeping my written goals and intentions close keeps me focused on them and encourages me to take action toward my goals every day. It makes them more real!
Find a tote bag that raises your spirits when you look at it, or designate a special container or box to hold your “manifesting resources”. And be sure to refer to it as your Magical Manifesting Bag or something equally magical!
So there you have it: My tried and true system for supercharging my vision for the upcoming year! There are a few other tips I’m eager to share, but I think this is enough for now!
I wish you a very happy, healthy, and hopeful New Year filled with all kinds of sweet surprises and revelations about how magnificent you are and what you are capable of!
© 2017 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (River-Bliss.com) is a contemplative photographer, writer, and educator who lives on the Hudson River. Her work combines her passion for photography and writing with her deep interest in the nature of mind and perception and her love of the natural world.