I’ve done some version of annual review and planning every year since I can remember. When I was growing up, on December 31st my family would sit in a circle on the living room floor on sofa cushions. We would turn out the lights and my mom would put on some of her woo-woo chanty music (which, of course, I listen to now in adulthood.)
She had a huge book with a soft leather cover that looked like she got it off the shelf at Hogwarts. Our New Year’s Eve ritual began by lighting a candle for the year past, a candle for the year to come, and a candle for the present moment. I remember sitting across from my sister watching the light flicker on her porcelain moon face as we set our intentions as a family.
We each went around and shared completions from the previous year: things we wanted to acknowledge that had happened. For my sister and I they included things like taking our first ballet class or sticking with soccer for an entire season. For my parents they included trips they’d taken or career related accomplishments. My mom would write them all down in the sacred Hogwarts book as we spoke.
Next we shared our intentions for the new year. My dad would voice a yearning for more time out on his sailboat. My mom would share something about the book she was working on. My sister and I would talk about play dates and adventures in the woods.
Each intention was uniquely our own, distinct by stage of life, proclivities, and soul qualities. Each one was recorded in the Hogwarts book for posterity. As a little girl the fact that my dreams were being written down in a big leather bound book made them feel important. It made me feel magical. It wired into my psyche that I can have what I desire. But first, I have to speak up about it.
This past Saturday I sat with a group of women at an event called Radical Sexy Self Care that my friend Thea cooked up. We started the morning going around the table sharing a brag (something we wanted to celebrate about ourselves), a gratitude, and a desire. What struck me the most was that before stating her desire, almost every single woman at the table said, “Wow. This is hard.”
At what point in time did we let it become hard to desire?
When I was a little girl peaking across our little family candle lit coven at my sister it wasn’t hard for me to say what I wanted. I didn’t judge myself for wanting a pink tutu, to play fairies in the woods, or to take a trip to Disney World. I didn’t censor my words. I didn’t put a lid on my glitter and ribbon little-girl desires. My mom wrote my annual desires in her big leather book right next to her financial goals, intentions to deepen her relationship with my dad, and career aspirations. They were important, valuable, and most significantly, right by sheer virtue of the fact that I’d dreamed them up.
Listening to the women on Saturday struggle to state their desires was sad at first, but immediately liberating as soon as they gave themselves permission to say them out loud. My little girl did a twirl each time one of these women let themselves want what they want.
If you don’t have an annual review and planning practice, I invite you to do one this year. Nothing compares to the feeling of being well digested after acknowledging everything that happened in the previous year. And if you have even one creative cell in your body that wants to set something in motion, whether it be a business, a relationship, or a new spiritual practice, you have to let yourself want it first.
Creating a safe, loving container where you’re allowed to want what you want may be the most powerful thing you could ever do for yourself.
When setting goals, laying your intentions, or writing your 2013 desire list (however you want to say it), here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Make it a ritual. Light a candle. Get out some glitter and crystals. Play some chants. Find a Hogwarts book of your own. Make it sacred, like you.
- We tend to over estimate what we can do in a year but under estimate what we can do in a decade. What would it feel like to intentionally leave white space this year?
- Let your little girl come to the planning party. She’s unabashed about her desires. She’s playful. She’s wise. And she hasn’t yet forgotten who she is. Listen closely to her and weigh her desires for rainbows and unicorns just as heavily if not more so than your profit margins and client counts. (My friend Nisha Moodley wrote beautifully about exactly how to include your little girl in the planning party here.)
- Remember that every goal or intention we set is based on some way that we want to feel. Focus on the feeling more than the thing. There are a million ways to create the feeling of freedom that you crave. Releasing your grip on exactly how that feeling will come to pass is one of them. (Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map drops today. This guide will teach you exactly how to chart your life to feel the way you want to feel more often.)
- Include the people in your life who are most important to you. Plan with your hubby. Ask your daughter what she desires for the next year. At the end of your life you’ll probably remember your candle lit New Year’s Eve with your partner and your kids more than some of the stuff you manifested. Share the love.
Do you have other annual review or planning tools that you love?
Is it hard for you to state your desires? Is it easy? Why?
How do you want to feel in 2013?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!