Even though February is nigh, let me wish you a Happy New Year!

Each January I tend to tweak or re-imagine my process for setting intentions, and this year I have learned a few powerful new options I wanted to share.

If you are still feeling oversaturated from 2020, or not in the mood to dream and plan, I’ve got you! These options are nourishing and varied, and may surprise you.

Option 1: Nothing New for Now

A coaching client shared this resource with me and I think it is brilliant. This mantra underscores how important it is to know and honor where we are in our own change cycle.

Just because there is “new year” or “planning/calendar” hype in January doesn’t mean it’s the right time for YOU to be dreaming.

If your plate feels very full, or you are still digesting all that 2020 brought, please don’t add pressure to map your future. There will be a right time for you to dream what is next. And, in fact, the fastest and most easeful way forward into future clarity may be to stop fighting the rest and integration time you need.  A nap can be your next best step. Or a salt bath. 

I have been healing from gum surgery this last week. Even though I’ve been on my own ‘overachiever recovery program’ for years, I still fight it when my health requires extended days of rest or healing. I usually give myself a set number, like the four days I slotted after gum surgery. Then, after that, I expect myself to “be back to normal.”

The body, as we know, has its own timeframe.

This week gave me an opportunity to really watch how I talk to myself when I’m physically vulnerable and to practice relaxing control.

While this isn’t easy and requires stepping over several Enneagram type voices inside, I am learning that the more compassionate I am to myself, the more present and nimble I am to changing circumstances. This approach allowed me to show up in small ways in my work and family when I could, which has been so meaningful for me, and to be generous with myself when I need to rest.

It all felt less pressurized.

I realize the old approach was dualistic and laced with pressure to show up either “full on” or “off.” I’ve been playing in shades of gray.

After days in bed/on the couch, I opened my journal to do some reflection and found that there was so much clarity ready to be harvested. Things I didn’t even realize I knew somehow got worked out under the surface during my down time. This was a delightful surprise and a reminder of *ironically* how efficient rest really is.

Option 2: Make a Gratitude Board for All That You Learned 

I love vision boards and the magic they bring so much so that I usually make one or more per year and keep them propped above my desk or on my bookshelf to remind me where I’m going. But, until now, I’ve always made them for the future.

2020 was such a unique journey. As part of a process of mapping the future I was invited by my coach to create a gratitude board to harvest the lessons of the past year. This process was deeply gratifying. I captured both big things, like the gratitude I feel for the poll worker featured at the top (I love that she looks like the patron saint for democracy) and the little but vital delights the year brought, like repainting our bookshelves, creating a seasonal home office on my porch, and time with our children. 

If you aren’t a vision board person you can turn to a fresh page in your notebook and write down what lessons you are grateful for learning this past year. The key is to settle yourself into the posture of a learner. Because if you are the learner, then you have the power to transmute the challenges you experienced into lessons that fuel your way forward and everything is compost for what wants to grow next.

I also like to put my hand on the vision board — or the lessons harvested in my journal — and do some deep breathing. I imagine that all that is old or stale from the past could just gently rinse off me, and that the lessons I name and honor are rooted deep in me for the future.

This practice really gets me in touch with my heart and is a wonderful release, which makes space for the new.

Option 3: Open a Dialogue with your Future Self

If you do want to do some visioning for the new year (or already have), consider making your intentions stronger by opening a dialogue with your future self. You can do this during meditation or in your journal.

Allow yourself to imaginatively inhabit the person you will be at the end of 2021 and feel into the gratitude you would feel when you experience the goals you are naming. 

This is also a great way to check your intentions: if you can’t imagine really embodying them, then maybe they aren’t your deepest or truest desires. Sometimes we get caught in “should” goals that come from our ego or our social selves. True soulful intentions feel delicious to imagine.

Going through this process of dialoguing with your future self, not just once but again and again, makes your intentions much more powerful. It infuses the words on a page with an emotional quality that you can feel in your body.  

I hope these ideas serve you now or the next time you are ready to release the old and dream new dreams for your life. 

One of my intentions for 2021 is to find fresh ways to connect to people and nurture this online Flourish community. I have been blogging regularly for many years and I love to write. But I also have an urge to connect more through interviews and online summits, and maybe even host my own summit one day.

So, I wanted to share with you that I’ll be featured in an upcoming summit with a session on Understanding Yourself (and Your Parenting) Through the Enneagram.

This summit is a free 4-day virtual event to help moms of kids with medical conditions go from being overloaded to feeling calm and in control. 

As a mamapreneur with three children ages 10-14, I believe parenting is one of the masterclasses of personal awareness work. But I am especially touched to be part of an event that is supporting moms of children with medical conditions because of the extra intensity and energetic demands these families face. Whether the medical condition is something visible to the world or mostly invisible, I know many moms are pouring their hearts into their child/ren’s thriving. (More challenging now because of the added isolation in a pandemic.) My sister Heather is a pediatric physical therapist and her work with families has long been an inspiration to me so I’m so proud to be a part of this event! 

If you know a mama with a child with a medical condition who could use some support and resources, I would love your help connecting. Please share this blog post with her. And if you are a parent and want to check out these great resources, you can read more and register right here.


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Courtney Pinkerton is a certified life coach and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever's Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More.

Courtney is an inner life coach and Enneagram mentor. She helps conscious women (and a few amazing men!) to pursue their most salient creative, professional and quality-of-life dreams and to discover more pleasure in their everyday.

She has dual master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is a certified Wayfinder life coach and has been studying the Enneagram with master teachers for over a decade. After selling their house and all their belongings and spending a year in Nicaragua tutored by their neighbors in the art of slowing down and living more, Courtney and her husband and their three children now make their home in a co-housing community in Asheville, North Carolina.