The Intention Ritual: Celebrate your life

Last night my husband Michael held a 50th birthday party for me with a surprise guest list of important family and friends. It was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the half-century mark with people who have touched my life in meaningful ways. It set the stage for another celebration - a gift I give myself every year, and one I invite you to give yourself, too.

During this time of year, I honor my birthday by practicing a ritual that I've used for more than fifteen years. I've shared it with you before, and since it reflects a powerful way to create your life with intention, I always like to share it again when November rolls around. Here's what I do:

  • 1. I schedule at least an hour of uninterrupted alone time.
  • 2. I think carefully about the year ahead and the intentions I have for my family and me.
  • 3. I review the prior year's intentions (written in an old journal), and write about whether or not they came to pass and how they've affected my life.
  • 4. I set ten new intentions for the upcoming year, taking into account all areas of my life - health, relationships, work, spiritual growth, etc.
  • 5. I finish the ritual by writing a letter to myself, acknowledging how I've made a difference in my life and in the lives of others.

I'm sure you've heard the old saying: "Most people spend more time planning their vacations than their lives." It's sad, but true. If you don't take the time to stop and consider where you'd like to be in a year, you may not like where you end up.

Setting intentions is easier than you may think. You don't need to spend hours working on them. Ten lines are all it takes. As you set them, make sure you choose intentions that you're ready to put your time and energy behind. Setting intentions in and of itself is only one part of the process. Taking action to fulfill them is what inspires doors to open and pathways to clear.

Your intentions might relate to your finances, your health, your career, the dreams you keep putting off, or the areas of your life that need your attention for a while. Whatever type you set, keep them simple. What matters most is that they feel right to you. You'll know this is the case when you look back over the list and think, "Yes! This is EXACTLY what I need to focus on or what I'd like to have happen!"

Last year, I set a few fun intentions like surfing (I had a great time but discovered it's hard work), singing in front of a live audience (completed that one thanks to Karen Drucker), and learning to paint flowers using watercolors (I now do it as part of my journaling). This week I'm in the process of setting new intentions. How about you?

Take Action Challenge

You don't have to wait for your birthday to set intentions. Schedule a time to yourself this week and answer the following question:

"What would I most like to have happen in my life between now and my next birthday?"

List ten intentions in a journal or notebook. Keep a copy of these intentions in a place where you'll see them occasionally. Then, on your next birthday, start your own self-honoring ritual to celebrate your life!

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Cheryl Richardson

Cheryl Richardson is the author of The New York Times bestselling books, Take Time for Your Life, Life Makeovers, Stand Up for Your Life, The Unmistakable Touch of Grace and her new book The Art of Extreme Self Care. She was the first president of the International Coach Federation and holds one of their first Master Certified Coach credentials.

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