A Powerful Ritual for the New Year

by Erica Quam

Beginnings...bring a different energy! 

I love the start of a new year. There's something exhilarating about a fresh start and a clean slate: a new calendar, writing the number 1, and re-training the brain to write a '16 instead of a '15 on checks (if you still write checks).

In the sport of swimming, teams are often at training camp over the New Year's holiday. We started a tradition of sitting down as a team and thinking about an intention for the year. Since we were training hard and the team was pretty tired, I didn't want to add another serious "goal" to their plate..like coming up with a bunch of resolutions. I wanted something more fun...more powerful...more meaningful.


There's nothing wrong with setting a new year's resolution. It's great to work towards things you want to change and set goals to get there. For me, they just never really worked.

Resolutions bring out perfectionist tendencies - leaving lots of room to fall short and end up feeling guilty. By the end of January a pretty good "not good enough" hangover has kicked in. Bad habits return and along with the familiar shoulder shrug..."oh well" attitude.

The best order for creating positive changes in your life is the BE-DO-HAVE model. This means that if you want to transform, you must start from the BE level.

When you begin changing on the BE level of your life, then the DO level and the HAVE level follow more easily.

When you start only on the DO level, then all of the blocks on the BE level will soon become the obstacles that you can’t overcome.
— Christine Kane

My coach provides a simple explanation for this: When we set resolutions, we are trying to DO this thing so we can HAVE this other thing so we can BE more of this other thing.

Here's a great example: Let's just say you've set a resolution to workout more.

Essentially, by working out more (do) you hope to (have) more self esteem so you can (be) more confident. This approach skips the most important part of the equation...which is who you want to become in the process. Confidence is built from the inside out...instead of the outside in.

Setting the resolution 'to work out everyday' rarely leads to any lasting change - because it's more about what you think you should do. The first time you skip a workout, the downward spiral starts. You get down on yourself, feel guilty, and probably end up less confident than before - unable to live up to expectations, again.

There are plenty of obstacles, reasons, & excuses that get in the way of resolutions. All of the 'should's' and 'have to's' set us up for failure.

How do we become?

Change happens when we choose who we want to become - the BE level - first. When we shift our focus to 'becoming' we can tap into our true potential. 

We 'become' in three simple steps. 1 - set an intention, 2 - take a small step forward, and 3 - acknowledge progress. Intentions can be more powerful goals. You don't have know the exact steps to get "there". 

It doesn't mean that you don't do anything. You always have to take action for any change to happen. It just means it's not all about willpower or how driven you are. This approach opens you up to the freedom of allowing an intention to unfold and all of the possibilities that come up as you align yourself to it.


Choose ONE WORD to be your intention of the year

1. Allow some time and space to get quiet

Reflect on the past year. Write down a few things that you are proud of or grateful for that happened in 2015. This helps move you from your head to your heart.

2. Choose one word

Words are powerful. Words evoke images, emotion, and energy. Choose one. 

You can read over a list of words to give you some possibilities and ideas. Highlight, circle, or write down the words that "speak to you" or you keep coming back to.

Don't choose the word that "sounds best" or the word that you think you "should" choose. Maybe even choose a word that questions or challenges you. Maybe there's a word that keeps coming up for you - and you're not quite sure why.

3. Align yourself with your word

Write your word on a piece of paper and look at each day. Put it on your mirror, or your locker or computer, or have it in your car. When you see it, be open to the ways it will appear in your life.

4. Reflect

Reflect to notice any changes or progress - at the end of the week, the month, & definitely at the end of your year.

What's your word and why did you choose it? Share your word for 2016 in the comments below.