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Happy New Year! The possibilities of a new year are always exciting. Maybe you will get all A’s in your classes. You could land an internship or a new job. In 2023, you may have more thrilling adventures and time with friends and family. A new year is a chance to write another chapter in your life story.

You may be thinking about new goals and creating New Year’s Resolutions. It’s a common practice and helps you learn more. Before you start making your resolutions, I want you to consider something different. This involves a new way to envision the year.

Have you ever heard of setting intentions? 

Discover Your WHY

What is the definition of “intention”? Defined by Merriam-Webster, intend means “a determination to act in a certain way”. For me, intentions mean having a reason for our actions. It is focusing on the WHY.

What do I mean by WHY? It’s referring to your purpose, like an internal anchor for what is important in your life. It keeps you grounded to make sure you are staying true to yourself.

Intentions allow you to not only set a goal, but understand the WHY of the goal.  When you know your WHY, it can support your personal and professional growth.

For example: If I intend to be kind, then my action would reflect acts of kindness. It may involve smiling more, actively listening in conversations, and giving positive affirmations to my loved ones. I want to spread kindness, so I intend to use acts of kindness. 

Set an Intention

What brings you joy? What makes you happy? What makes you feel passionate? These questions are a good start to setting an intention. Your intentions should be both positive and motivating. The purpose is to find inspiration in our actions.

As students, consider what intentions you can set this year. What do you want to learn and WHY? Dig deep to not only get a good grade, but think about what you can gain from your classes. Having an intention will help you stay focused, both getting good grades and learning something new you may never have expected.

Below are some ways you can start the practice of setting intentions. 

Choose a Theme or Word for 2023

When setting an intention, consider choosing a theme. A way to choose a theme would be by choosing one word. The word is a way to stay committed and responsible for the actions you take in the year. Think of it like a guidepost. Whenever you need to make a decision, ask yourself if the choice aligns with your word.

Examples of words you could consider include: Adventure, Gratitude, Action, Learning, Wonder, Responsibility, Focus, Compassion, Connection, Courage, Balance, etc.

The word choices are endless. When deciding on the theme and word, be sure to make them positive and motivating.

Try a Mantra to Stay Centered

Life has many ups and downs, some planned, but most are unexpected. There are moments I still find myself overthinking new challenges. When this happens, I take a deep breath, and say, “Everything will be okay.”

This is my mantra, the statement I use when challenges happen. For example, when feeling anxious while preparing for a big project, I’d pause and repeat to myself, “everything will be okay.”

A mantra is repeating a statement to keep us centered. It can be focused on a belief system, our values, or how we want to overcome an obstacle. It’s a way to stay focused and uplifted in both positive and difficult situations.

It’s common to bring intentions and mantras together. It’s a way to get under the layers of stress and to feel confident in ourselves.

Make a Vision Board

For you visual folks, it’s time to be creative! Find some old magazines, get your markers ready, and have some fun. Create a vision board with intentions you have for the new year. Again, think about your WHY. What matters most to you?

Visualization is a great way to set your intentions. It creates mental clarity and direction. Use images, words, and bright colors to make your intentions stand out. Put your board somewhere you can see every day.

This would be a fun winter activity with your friends and family. 

Dig Deeper into Your Classes

In college, I took a Geology class with no interest in the subject. It was a required class for my general credits but not on my top-class list. On the first day, the professor said, “I’m not here to make you a geologist, but I want you to leave with a better sense of critical thinking.”

From that moment, I went into class intending to be a better critical thinker. It gave me insight on how to ask different types of questions. Now in daily conversations, I can ask questions from multiple perspectives. It keeps me curious and wanting to learn more.

When you are in a class, ask yourself WHY you are learning something. Every class has a purpose, no matter how interested you are in the course. You may gain new insights by just setting an intention. 

Connect your Intention to Your Education

I had a professor once compare getting an education to getting a car. She said being educated just to get good grades was like getting a car with no engine. It wouldn’t work. When I first heard this analogy, I didn’t understand it. I assumed the goal of school was earning good grades to get a degree and a job.

We attend school for multiple reasons. Importantly, education provides a platform for building skillsets to help in life and work. It is a direct path toward landing your desired job. Education can also teach you valuable lessons you will use in life.

Bring on 2023, you now have new tools to make it a great year!

By Alex Jurgens