The start of a new year is a time that is always filled with promise, hope, and resolve. Everybody loves the blank sheet of paper that appears January 1st: it seems as limitless as it does unblemished. Just like a child with a kite in a windy, open field, you honestly think you can go anywhere and do anything.

But roll the clock forward a month or two, and most of that promise, hope and resolve has vanished under the weight and routine of the daily rhythm of life. A quick look around reveals the deflating view of no real change in our world.

Finish the following sentence: “Most New Year's resolutions fail despite having the best ________." You know the word that belongs in that blank: intentions.

Intentions are that mental spark that help us move from the idea in our mind to a reality in the world. Think about every successful project, endeavor, or change in your life that has truly made an impact. What was the common denominator? 

"You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you." - Maya Angelou

You remember those times where you deliberately took a step, purposefully put the pen to paper, meaningfully applied a brush to a canvas, or openly began to speak. You remember those times when you gave something more than your usual energy and focus. And what happened? Something more than the usual. The work got done early, you lost the weight, the project shipped, or whatever large task you were working moved forward.

So where is this source of intention, and why does it not happen all the time? Is it in a bottle somewhere inside you, ready to be tapped if you only knew how?

Well, yes and no. Yes, it is inside of you. It is always there, ready to be engaged. But also no, it is not available via the push of a button, on demand when you show up to do the work. While showing up to do the work is extremely important, to get that momentum to build the bridge from your mind to your heart to your hands, there has to be meaning. The work has to mean something. It has to resonate with your personal 'why" or else it will not be your best.

Some call it finding the pebble in your shoe to drive you forward. Others use the musical analogy of a tuning fork resonating with your ideas or passions. Regardless of the metaphor, if you can connect your work to something of meaning to you, then the drive to forge ahead will come with it. The ultimate source of your intention is a necessary connection between an idea in your mind and a state in your heart and a something in the real world.

Your challenge this New Year is to find that missing connection between head, heart, and mind. Find that one unified arc that moves you forward. Find that pebble in your shoe, that tuning fork that makes you smile. Find where your best intentions lie, and that is what will make this year better than the last.


J.D. Nolen is a physician who expresses his creativity through writing. His book, Unlock Your Creativity, is now available on Amazon. You can follow him via his blog or on Twitter.

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This article is part of our series on the theme of Intention.

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Distilled from our Manifesto, positive psychology, the science of mindfulness, and ancient philosophic studies we have identified twelve themes core to living both fully and mindfully. We mapped these twelve themes to each of the twelve months in a year. Together with our community we explore one each month.


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