From “Resolutions” to “Intentions:” Toward a More Easeful, Natural Way of Setting Goals

Writer’s Note: This is the 3rd in a 3-part series of embracing the natural, astrological or agricultural calendar that starts on the spring equinox, as a more easeful way of working for women. In Part 1, we looked at why biorhythms are so powerful, and women’s bodies natural want to follow them. In Part 2, we looked at how the natural calendar actually works throughout the year, and what it looks like to follow it. Today, we’ll look at a less-stressful way of setting “goals” for the year that incorporates a lot of potential for harmony, balance and flow.

The Spring Equinox just passed, and with it, my celebration of New Year. I’ve been running my personal life (and my business, when I was an entrepreneur) by the natural calendar for several years.

Switching from a January New Year to a March New Year is a tiny shift that has brought me so much less stress and so much more joy. I don’t feel anymore like I’m pushing my body to try to “be productive” at times it really doesn’t want to be. I ride the energy of the year up and then back down again. It’s like having the energetic wind at your back.

But as with any new year, it’s time to take stock of where things are at. So a few weeks ago, right before the new year itself, I dedicated a Friday morning–my most laid-back off day–to setting my “goals” (which I prefer to call intentions) for the new year.

I made it fun for myself by going to the beach, which is about ten minutes from my home in Dubai Marina. To get there, I have to cross this bridge. We’re having really gorgeous, balmy weather right now, and I couldn’t have been happier about how this day turned out!

Perhaps it’s worthwhile for me to stop here and talk about goals versus intentions. Goal-setting is a very masculine activity. It’s about developing fixed plans, with pre-determined destinations, which you will then strive to reach by sweat, blood and tears. Men love this. It’s what gives them their sense of accomplishment and speaks to their inner “conquering” urge that is part of their nature.

But this is not “me.” I am not a conqueror, I’m a nurturer. I’m not a striver. I’m into flow. In short, I’m a woman. And I like to chart my course like one, thank you very much.

This is where intentions come in. The idea of an intention is that it gives focus and aim to the direction I’m heading. But it’s not a fixed point. An intention allows me to let the unfolding journey guide the exact point I reach, rather than predetermining where I have to get to, exactly. Intentions allow me to love myself and discover new things through the journey of the year that will then impact my direction .

Goals own me. I own intentions. And if one of my intentions wanders into entirely new territory by the year’s end, so be it.

Last year didn’t turn out anything like I expected (mostly because, hello, I moved to Dubai on short notice!!) but I feel incredibly accomplished all the same.

One of the biggest ways we can release ourselves as women from the false guilt we carry around constantly is to let go of these hard-lined, masculine decision-making and planning structures that don’t really work for us–for our natural rhythms or our bodies.

So there I was, at the JBR Beach in Dubai Marina. I found myself a gorgeous upstairs spot at a Turkish restaurant overlooking the Arabian Gulf, where lazy brunchers were finishing off the last of their feasts, or were slouched over their shisha, scrolling their phones amid a cloud of smoke. And after I ordered by Turkish coffee, I got to writing.

For this year, I divided my life into seven areas:

  • God
  • Home
  • Ministry
  • Provision (my term for finances)
  • Love
  • Health
  • Travel

These are the major areas of my life. And then I just spent time noodling and dreaming around what this year could look like. What are things it’s been in my heart to do? What are deep, deep desires I want to partner with God to bring to pass?

I came up with things like, “Tour Dubai like a proper tourist” (which I haven’t done, almost seven months into living here). And “Get a queen-size bed for my apartment.” And “Blog every week” and “Make my yoga a consistent, daily practice that feels good.”

None of these are fixed points. They’re more about embodied ways of life. Practices I want to make a consistent, joyful way of living, rather than some fixed point I have to hit in order to feel good about myself or achieve an arbitrary goal.

I admit, along the way in this process, I might have ordered a thoroughly non-vegan, cheese-loaded veggie pide, a delicious Turkish bread dish. But oh my!!! It was so good!!And it gave me “brain food”–fuel for my work.

My idea as I worked on intentions for my seven areas is that each week, as I prepare for the week, I’ll pray over my intentions and ask God for one “next step” to take on them, or a small way to embody them in that week.

Where could I go on my day off to explore something new in Dubai? Should I allot an hour or so one day to research bed prices and options? Or troll Dubizzle (our Craig’s List) for used options? How about committing to seven days of just 15 min of sun salutations to get myself back into the groove with yoga.

These are simple steps. They aren’t rocket science and don’t require me to be a genius, climb a tall building with my bare hands, or jump off a cliff.

I’l just be weaving these activities into my daily life.

In the end, this is what I created after I journaled out all my ideas. The intentions on my wheel are super open-ended, but they represent specific paths I want to run down. I put my wheel where I can see it every day, and as I said, every week, I’ll be praying over how to manifest those intentions in that week. And the same for every month, planning for the month ahead.

I’m so excited about this new year. God has done exceedingly abundantly above all that I could ask or think here in Dubai. I know He has good things around the corner. And it’s up to me to dream big and follow Him.

I can do this best when I create intentions that partner with His heart, as I feel the beat of it now, but don’t dictate outcomes.

With intentions, there’s still room for creativity, joy and discovery on your path throughout the year.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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