If you are on social media, then you have certainly seen the movement to “pick your word” for the year. The concept exploded on Facebook and Instagram and even popped up on a few of my favorite podcasts.

It could all seem a bit silly… But what if it actually worked?

Several years ago, I attended a week-long retreat at Deepak Chopra’s mindfulness center in California. I came away with a new appreciation for the power of yoga and mindfulness – and a few concerns about Deepak’s choice to bedazzle most of his attire. I also walked away with a deeper understanding of the power of attention and intention.

Definitions are important here: Attention is where you place your mind at any given moment. You may give your attention to this newsletter, a feeling of hunger, a crying child or a conversation with a friend. Intention is where you aspire to go and/or what you aspire to do or be. So, you may have an intention to be healthier, happier, funnier or a million other things.

And, as you have already probably figured out, you are more likely to reach your intended goal when you place your attention on your intention. 

Setting an intention for the year, and then placing your attention on that end goal is very, very powerful. Imagine if you woke up every morning and reminded yourself of your intention for the day? (You can use a phase if it helps). What do you think would be different – over time?

When you remind yourself – daily – of who you want to be and/or where you want to go, then you can make small steps to move closer to that goal. And, as we know, small steps equal sustainable change over time.

So ask yourself:

1. Where do I want to be at the end of this year? 

2. What word or phrase summarizes that destination? 

Thought triggers: Healthier, Happier, More Confident, Stronger Public Speaker, New Job that I Actually Like, Mindful, Loving, Present Parent/Spouse/Partner, Empathetic, Compassionate, Sober, Tolerant, Patient

And then lean in. Each morning, say your intention out-loud. And then look for ways to lean toward that intention each day. Muscles have memories, so it may take a while to lean away from certain habits and behaviors, but keep trying.