Emily Articulated: New Year’s intentions

By Emily Erickson
Reader Columnist

There are times when it is appropriate for a person to be resolved, to be “firmly determined to do something.” A resolution is a venture into the future knowing a change must occur in the most absolute of ways. But that kind of determination also comes with high stakes; all or nothing odds that leave little room for incremental improvement or trends in the “right” direction.

Because of the stakes of a resolution, I most often don’t make them, especially at the New Year. Instead, I create intentions that I hope will steer my actions closer to the outcomes I seek; the sum total of the times in which I’m in alignment with them hopefully greater than the times in which I fall short. Intentions help me inch closer to the kind of person I want to be, to trend in the direction of improvement, without a steep cliff of failure to tip over when I can’t or don’t meet my own expectations.

Emily Erickson.

But despite their lack of rigidity, I don’t take setting these intentions lightly. I make them after reflecting on the year gone by, on what I learned and what I’ll bring with me, and on what I want to create for myself in the year to come. It’s a recalibration of my metaphorical compass and a “calling in” of certain aspects of the kind of life I want to lead.

In reflection, 2022 was a year of momentousness for me — a year of a month-long European adventure, of getting engaged, of career growth and of accomplishing big physical feats. But it was also a year of loss, of (ungracefully at times) bearing the weight of my responsibilities and of regularly being on the precipice of overwhelm and stress. From all the ambivalence of the past year, I’m entering 2023 having learned how well supported and cared for I am by the people in my life. I’m bringing with me confidence in friends and family who celebrate my successes and who also offer to share the load of my burdens when they get too heavy to manage alone.

And as I embark on the journey that will be 2023, I’m setting several intentions for how I want to navigate it.

My first intention for this new new year is to cultivate connection. I want to better understand the people with whom I’m already close, and also with those whom I’d like to be closer. I aim to prioritize meaningful conversation and genuine curiosity over anxious small talk and social apathy. And I also want to extend this seeking of connection to myself, creating space to examine all that I think I know about who I am and what I care about, and how I move through the world.

The next intention I’m setting for 2023 is embracing being a beginner. I want to seek opportunities to learn new things and to experience novitiate with excitement and humility. My boundaries of comfort and familiarity have value, but so too do the times in which I get to expand upon existing skills, discover new passions, and learn my limitations through first-time experiences and uncharted ventures. I want to be challenged and to intentionally push myself into places of discomfort, just to know I can come out the other side unscathed, if not improved.

My third intention for 2023 is welcoming silence. In a world where input and stimulation is accessible at all times, in which constant distraction and escape comes in the form of podcasts, audiobooks, tv streaming and social platforms, I want to practice being comfortable in quiet. I aim to set aside more time to get lost in my own thoughts and to access the calm of a brain at rest.

Finally, my fourth intention for 2023 is awareness. I want to pay closer attention to how I spend my time, to what brings me joy, and to things that make me feel bad — both in the moment and over time. I strive to witness the things going well for me while they’re happening, and also the multitude of large and small wonders accessible to me every day. I want to look into more fires and up at more clouds; onto loved ones’ faces, and into myself with nothing between me and the minutes, days, months and years comprising my life.

So, with the very best of intentions, I wish you a happy new year. May 2023 treat us well.

Emily Erickson is a writer and business owner with an affinity for black coffee and playing in the mountains. Connect with her online at www.bigbluehat.studio.

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