During the cold, dark days of winter I love to bundle up in my living room and stare out the window at the chilly air and the twinkling lights of my neighborhood. While I don’t love some of the accompanying stress, I do love the holidays. I appreciate having days dedicated to being with the most treasured people in my life.

The past couple of years, I have added the ritual of intentional and deep reflection to the end of each year. I take time to reflect honestly on how I’ve spent my time and who I’ve spent it with. I take time to notice how I’ve changed and grown and to be truthful about the areas where change and growth are still needed.

I also participate in the ritual of New Year’s Resolutions! But in a nuanced way. Most of you are probably familiar with the concept of living with intention and have probably heard yoga teachers speak of setting an intention before practice. The idea of having an intention that underlies all of life is important to me. I view my intention as the lens that I choose to look through as I move about and act in the world.

It’s important to clarify that intentions are different than goals. Both are important and useful, but they serve different purposes. A goal is something that you work toward – something that can be accomplished or given up. An intention, on the other hand, is something that simply is. It isn’t something that can be strived for or achieved. I encourage my students to work to articulate an intention that is brief, simple and in the present tense and then to work with it for several months or years. Part of my personal intention is: “I choose joyfulness and believe in abundance.” Keeping these concepts at the forefront of my mind and heart isn’t always easy; they don’t allow me to simply slip into habitual behaviors and attitudes. But the action of working with these intentions has transformed my life – relationships, situations and actions – in dramatic ways.

I offer two articles you may find useful as you work to set your own New Year’s Resolutions:

Many blessings to you in 2012!