Essays

New Year’s Intentions

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Ta Prohm Cambodia
Ta Prohm Cambodia

One of my absolute favorite times of the year is the few days between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The world seems sleepy. Everyone moves a bit slower and the hope for a better following year is palpable.

I love using this time to recoup from the craziness of the holiday season, reflect on the year that was, and set my intentions for the new year. Looking back and reflecting is key to making sure memories last, to appreciating what you’ve been able to do and achieve, and making adjustments going forward. I’ve done this every year for as long as I can remember. (2018 in review post coming tomorrow!)

Most people make “New Year’s Resolutions” but I call them “New Year’s Intentions”. While resolve is defined as “settle or find a solution to” intention is defined as “an aim or a plan.” I love the idea of making a plan: coming up with ideas on how to improve and where we can reallocate our resources. Finding a solution doesn’t quite feel like the right phrase as there is often no concrete solve to life’s problems; it’s more trial and error to find what works in the given moment, and then when that no longer works, finding a new way forward. Always ebb, always flow.

Here are my intentions for 2019:

1.) Owning my time

As Oprah says, “I believe that one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself is time.” In 2019 I want to make sure that I’m using my time in the most productive, joy-filled, and useful ways possible. Here’s how I plan to do that:

  • Saying no to things I don’t want to do
    • Obviously we all have things we don’t want to do. But where I do have the choice, I want to be honest with myself about it. Is going to some random bar with friends last minute better than being restful and getting up the next day to go to yoga? Is an after-work event better than coming home to have dinner with my husband? Is scheduling a phone call first thing in the morning better than going to the gym? Basically: Is this thing I’m contemplating serving me? I want to be doing what is best for my own mental and physical health. I can’t feel bad about saying no to others and in turn need to say yes to myself.
  • Voicing my opinion when I want to/don’t want to do something
    • How many times do we say things like “Oh, I don’t care where we go to dinner” when all we really want is a burrito? I want to make sure that I’m saying and voicing my needs. If I need a night to myself to do a face mask, I’ve gotta say that. If I don’t feel like a work project is the right thing for the business, I’ve gotta raise my hand and challenge the status quo. If I feel like I need help cleaning or getting groceries, I’ve gotta let Nick know. Saying how I feel will allow me to use my time in the best way possible.
  • Unfollowing or hiding social media accounts that do not contribute to my productivity and joy
    • This was a big one for me at the end of this year. In the past few weeks I’ve unfollowed or hid all of the meme accounts that are such a giant time waster, and in the coming weeks I want to be mindful of the accounts I do follow. Do I get angry looking at someone’s posts? Then they’ve gotta go. I don’t have any time for being anything but happy or inspired looking at social media.
  • Being present. No more multi-tasking!
    • Being present is such an all-encompassing thing to say, but I do want to make sure I’m doing a better job at it in 2019. One way I plan on doing that is not multi-tasking. If I’m at dinner with you, my phone is not going to be out on the table. If I’m checking email, the TV is not going to be on in the background. If I’m deep in excel, I’m not going to have my email open in the background. Multi-tasking is making our attention spans shorter and doesn’t make us more productive. Here’s to doing one thing at a time in the upcoming year.
  • Establishing a morning routine
    • For the 6 months prior to our wedding I had a solid morning routine: I woke up between 6:30/7 and went to the gym four or five times per week, then went to work. I felt accomplished and filled with energy to tackle the day. Since we got back from our honeymoon, I’ve let my morning routine slip and I now sleep in instead of getting up to do things. While I totally need to listen to my body and if I’m tired I need to sleep in, I can’t let laziness take over. I’d like to get back to the gym some mornings and then other mornings I’d like to start the day by writing. Establishing a better morning routine is going to help me make the most of my time each day.
2.) Eating better to feel better

This is a big one for me this year. In the months before my wedding I was eating healthfully hardcore. I cut out most carbohydrates, alcohol, and sugar. I felt and looked amazing but it wasn’t sustainable. Here’s what eating better means to me in 2019:

  • Looking at food as a way to make me feel good longterm
    • I think framing food in this way is going to be a breakthrough for me: Is eating this thing going to make nourish my body for the days to come? Or is my gut going to hurt for hours on end afterward? I just can’t eat the same as I did when I was in my early twenties anymore: pizza and endless cocktails are going to make me feel like shit the next day. And I don’t want to spend weekends hungover binging Netflix on the couch. Honestly, I’m too old for that now. I want to be eating good, nutritious food that is going to make me feel good so I can accomplish the things I want to accomplish.
  • Figuring out my happy medium
    • I’ve learned during the past year that I can’t have everything I want all the time when it comes to food. I’m not happy when I’m totally depriving myself, but I’m also not happy when I’m eating whatever I want. Generally, I’ve figured out that I feel my best when I don’t eat a ton of meat, when I don’t drink during the week, and when I only have a few drinks on the weekends. Food is all about balance and I need to keep eating things that make me feel my best and avoiding things that don’t.
3.) Embracing my life stage

Contrary to popular belief, your 30s are freaking amazing. I love this life stage and I want to continue to embrace it in the following ways:

  • Not letting pop-culture define me
    • Really popular phrases out in the world right now are things like “adulting”, “Sunday scaries”, and all things basically making it seem cool to be lazy. If adulting means paying my bills, having real responsibilities, and being in charge of my own destiny, I’m here for it. I LOVE making my own decisions and not having to ask someone for permission. I love being married. I love living in New York. Basically, I love being a grown-up. I don’t have the Sunday scaries because I made the decision to leave a job I wasn’t passionate about and I’m now writing and making a career of something I do care about. Find something that inspires you and that you’re passionate about. Life is too short to do something you don’t want to do. I’m in my thirties and I’m loving it. (And please: It’s not cute to brag about things like falling asleep in your makeup or not having real food in your fridge.)
  • Health means everything
    • When you’re in your 30s you start to get a sense of your own mortality. You realize that you’re not going to be around forever. Your body lets you know when you don’t sleep enough. You definitely know when you drank too much. You know when you ate the wrong thing. I want to honor that and take care of my body. We’ve only got one life and I plan on living to 100 with Nick right by my side.
4.) Continue to write, create & make

One of the highlights of 2018 was launching my website. I’m finally writing about the things I care about and doing what I want to be doing. I’m so excited for 2019 and what it’s going to bring for me professionally. I want to keep creating, writing pieces about living sustainably, using clean beauty products, living with less, and taking beautiful photographs. You’re either creating or consuming and I want to be creating.

Thanks for reading! What are your intentions for 2019? I plan on making it the best year yet!

Ashley

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “New Year’s Intentions

  1. I like the term “curating” when it comes to intentions. Curate what makes you happy and healthy and everything will fall into place. Curate the finest. So instead of cheap sugary drinks, an amazing artisanal cocktail. Instead of a 20oz T-bone, a 3oz Kobe filet. Instead of binging series, pace it out, dwell on it, decide if it’s worth continuing, there’s no rush.

    1. I love that! Definitely going to adapt that term, it makes so much sense. One definitely wants the best in life and I love the idea of being particular about what you select to do/eat/enjoy.

  2. I plan to focus more on self care. You can’t give from an empty cup so I plan to cultivate more time for myself and to invest in myself so I can continue to help and support others. Love the idea of owning your own time! That is so important since time is so valuable and being present is critical.

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