Many years ago, I was juggling too much as a communications manager at a small nonprofit amid a lot of organizational turmoil. I was feeling overwhelmed, under-resourced and burned out when I snagged a Groupon for a yoga studio in my neighborhood. My nerves sizzled with stress as I pulled the door open on the evening of my first class.

I wasn’t new to yoga, but I tend to cycle in and out of a regular practice, and this was my first venture back to a class in several months. As is typical, at the start of the class the instructor invited everyone to set their intention for the evening: a word, mantra, person or other article of inspiration to which we’d all direct our energy as we moved through the poses. If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you surely have done this.

Honestly, I don’t remember what word I chose that night. It would make a much better story if I did. What I do remember, though, is that whatever word I chose was like a tuning fork, smoothing and slowing those jagged spikes of stress that had kept me awake at night, made me clench my fists on the steering wheel as I pulled into the parking lot of work and click aimlessly through my emails, unable to pull my focus to any one problem because they all felt so daunting.

I have a clear memory of folding over myself, focusing on this intention, and feeling tears well up in my eyes. The act of relinquishing myself to whatever intention I had chosen was the antidote to all the bad feelings I had been carrying around. It didn’t fix all the problems at work, but it made me more resilient, better able to see through the noise to what I was trying to accomplish and how I wanted to feel. It was a lighthouse when the fog got thick or the waves got rough, if you’ll forgive the extremely obvious metaphor.

Setting Intention: Not just for yoga

Like I said, I don’t do yoga on as regular a basis as I’d like (even less so now that I have two kids). But this intention-setting doesn’t require a mat and an hour in a candlelit room. You can direct your focus in everything you do, and I highly recommend this practice as you plan for the New Year.

My intention for 2019 is “courage.” Ever since the seed of the idea of Collective Reach started sprouting earlier this year, I’ve had to start shedding the beliefs I’ve carried that have been holding me back, and asking myself tough questions when I’m not sure what to do next. Going from casual freelancing to growing an intentional business has and will continue to take a lot of courage.

I know I probably will fall short of some goals or hit some pitfalls in 2019 as I seek to grow both personally and professionally, but if I can look back on this year and know I’ve been courageous, I will consider it a successful year.

Plan your best year yet.

As you’re wrapping up your year at work or setting off on the new one, I challenge you to go beyond goals and set an intention for yourself for 2019. I promise it will help you frame all those goals, and when the going gets tough and you feel those nerves sizzling, you can reflect back on that intention to help you figure out your next steps.

If you’d like some help getting your goals and intentions aligned with your skills and resources for 2019, you’re in luck: I put together my very first free resource for nonprofit marketers and mission-minded solo communicators: The Plan Your Best Year worksheet. It’s free to download. You just have to take a quick survey (no email subscription required, and it’s totally anonymous) to help me figure out what’s on your mind and what would be most helpful to you as I create more content and resources.

Here’s hoping you have a triumphant 2019! Let me know what your intention is for the year. Tweet at me and use #2019intention.

Featured Photo by Troy Taylor on Unsplash

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