Bringing Positive Intentions Together for the New Year

new year's kiss

It’s so interesting returning to a life on the West Coast to become one of the last people in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve. On social media I can jump on and watch everyone else celebrating at midnight, while I’m still getting ready, cracking open my first beer, and waiting for my turn.

Every year Mr. H and I have a tradition of doing a play-by-play of the year together, going through each memorable month to explore all that happened. It’s always fascinating to see what we can remember, what stands out in our minds—an unforgettable sunset on the Oregon coast, the ups and downs of our jobs, that time we learned something about ourselves that changed us forever.

I’ve never been a huge New Year’s Eve fan, often dismissing going out to avoid amateur night. This year was an exception, as we were able to share it with a group of wonderful friends, who were all in the same boat as us—without plans, but wanting to get out of the house to do something chill and grown-up.

A couple of our friends own Muse Wine Bar, a magnificent spot around the corner from where we live. After many hours of yummy conversation and wine, we stumbled and laughed all the way home, proud of ourselves for braving the night.

It was worth it to bring in the new year with a great group of people. It helped us erase those earlier NYE attempts, the disappointing ones with questionable company and cheap champagne at midnight.

You can listen to the countdown and glasses clinking like crazy by pressing play…


As the year comes to an end, I never doubt its significance. Looking back at the year with Mr. H is one part of that, and looking forward with a positive intention is another.

Most of you know that I am not into resolutions, but I create a sankalpa instead. While resolutions can carry a negative vibe (lose weight, don’t drink, etc.), a sankalpa is more about purpose.

The past two years I have shared my sankalpa on the blog. In a way it’s a public profession, and it has helped me remember to stick with it throughout the year. Unlike resolutions that can be quickly forgotten, a sankalpa tends to stay with you because it’s deeper—it’s intentional.

2014 was “To Love More” and 2015 was “To Simply Enjoy.”

Quite literally I faced my sankalpa in the reflection of a window this summer. It was painted on a wall inside an empty art gallery by my office. There is a lovely irony to it, with the man walking with his smartphone in the background while I snap a selfie.

positive intention

So, my intention in 2016 is to “Live Consciously.” This may be one of my most challenging sankalpas to date, but I believe it is a crucial one for me, and well…most of us.

Living consciously is difficult in our society. Multi-tasking and distractions are the norm, just being is not.

I struggle with it as much as anyone. Hell, I’m a Content Manager at a marketing agency and a blogger/author when I’m not at work. If anyone’s digitally bound and gagged, it’s this girl.

I am very aware of the perilous nature of living life behind a screen. This is why I have stepped back quite a bit with my author platform this past year.

  • I took the entire summer off from blogging, because I needed the time to write my first draft and enjoy the sunshine.
  • I stopped worrying about keeping up with too many blogs and only focusing on a small group of writers I cherish.
  • I don’t spend as much time on my social media channels anymore, so I can shut down the digital madness in the evenings and relax.
  • I chose not to get down on myself for not working on my novel a weekend here or there, as it isn’t necessary to try to win a race against myself.

Have I sacrificed the “growth” of my blog, social media channels, and book sales by making this decision? Depends on how you look at it. From a numbers standpoint, yes my growth has slowed. But numbers have never been important to me, relationships have. This past year I continued to deepen relationships with others and myself, and that’s all the growth I really need.

I’m devouring a fantastic book right now, which I highly recommend to anyone, whether you are into Yoga or not. It’s called A Life Worth Breathing by Max Strom.

In the opening of the first chapter, he hit it right on the nail:

We live in a unique time in history, both promising and ominous. As technologies continue to develop at an unbelievably increasing speed, it seems mankind is not maturing nearly fast enough to adapt. And so we find ourselves in a global crisis. Billions of people now covet the industrial world’s wealth and are replicating its system of modern consumerism as rapidly as possible. But what they are ignoring, perilously so, is the fact that as materially well off as the West is, we are also chronically living what Henry David Thoreau coined “a life of quiet desperation.”

Though Strom starts with a jarring intro, interestingly what follows is his point that there has been an upsurge in people embarking on self-examination over the past decade—exploring Yoga, meditation, and reflection. He says that Yoga may be one of the great rays of hope for our future…and, I totally agree with him.

I got a jumpstart on my 2016 intention by reconnecting with Yoga and meditation, incorporating educational and spiritual books into my predominately fiction repertoire, falling in love with all of it again.

But it’s a new kind of love, with a deeper understanding focused on being present, returning to the student mindset. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve practiced a pose or rolled out my mat over the past 10 years, I’m pretending that each time is the first time.

If Yoga isn’t your thing, living consciously can translate into so many other parts of your life. I can relate this to writing very easily.

Yes, it’s important for me to continue pursuing my creative dreams. However as any author knows, writing a book means shutting yourself off from the real world, and unfortunately, that means disconnecting from people around you.

So, I try to time my writing when Mr. H is busy with something else, because I don’t want to sacrifice the little time we have together. That also means, saying to hell with it some weekends to get out of the house and live. For me, that’s all part of living consciously…absorbing everything fully, with intention.

On New Year’s Eve, I woke up and decided I wanted to throw out a request on social to gather up sankalpas to include in this blog post. Why? To start 2016 on a positive note as a community.

A rather small community responded, and perhaps others did not want their intentions listed on a blog, because it was too personal of an ask.

So, thank you to the five ladies who responded to me on Facebook and Twitter for being open to sharing their sankalpas. I love that two of the five had the same name…

Bring more play opportunities to kidlets!  – Karen

Prioritize work, play, creativity, love, and laughter equally.  – Letizia

Express creativity!  – Courtnay

Learn to love myself.  – Laura

Not only will I open myself to more opportunities, I intend to CREATE them!  – Karin

Thank you all for continuing to share delicious slices of life with me. I wish you all an insanely beautiful 2016!

P.S. If you’d like to leave your sankalpa in the comment section, you are absolutely welcome to go for it.

WWII thriller

51 thoughts on “Bringing Positive Intentions Together for the New Year

  1. Letizia says:

    Beautiful first post of the year and thank you for providing me with the opportunity to articulate my own purpose for this year. I love the audio of your NYEve countdown: it captures the fun and intimacy of friendship in such a sweet way, haha! Cheers to purposeful, fun year, my friend!!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Thanks, honey! So glad to be a part of your 2016 purpose planning. 🙂

      I was quite tipsy, so I’m surprised I thought to record the voice memo! I remember wanting to record a video, but I needed my hands free for toasting and my lips free for kissing. Happy New Year, babe!

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    Britt, you have so wonderfully summed up what has very much been on my mind lately, mainly the concept of being tethered to a screen. I stepped away from it a bit over the holidays, and it freed up time for me just to *be*. I don’t typically make New Year’s resolutions, but I do tuck a few goals in my mind, and this year it’s to spend less time in front of a screen so as not to allow life to whiz past me. So I think your sankalpa of “Live Consciously” perfectly captures what my own would be to.

    Wonderful post.

  3. Karen Whittier (@RentTheToyChest) says:

    Fabulous post Britt! I’ve never been one to make resolutions–I think it must’ve been because I felt there was such a negative vibe to it, but I really like your sankalpa idea! I also share your interest in yoga and will look into Max Strom’s book. I agree whole-heartedly that yoga can be the ray of hope for our future. I see a parallel between society seeing multitasking and distractions as the norm and over-scheduled activities and ipads for toddlers being normal…quiet desperation indeed! But in my case, not so quiet 🙂

    Thanks for letting me share my sankalpa!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Same here, hon! I stopped making resolutions years ago, because I thought they were kind of ridiculous. The times I did make them, I always forgot them a week after NYE.

      You should totally check out A Life Worth Breathing. It was brought up during my teacher training some years ago, so it’s been on my list. I just got into Max’s book and it is already speaking to me. How can it not, right? We live in such a fast-paced society, and self-exploration is something we should do more of.

  4. Gallivanta says:

    I haven’t got a sankalpa yet but I like the idea of having one. Resolves and positive intentions are just floating around in the back of my mind at the moment, wondering if they are going to be allowed to see the light of day! Some have been waiting for a couple of years. 😦 May you and Mr H reap many blessings from your year of living consciously.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      No worries, Gallivanta doll! I had it easy with mine in a way. I took that “Live Consciously” photo in the summer and I kept thinking I needed to use it for a blog post. Then, I could never find the right place for it. Last week I realized what I needed to use it for.

      It doesn’t matter what time of the year you create your sankalpa. Naturally I bring this up around New Year’s, but any time is perfect. 🙂

  5. Smaktakula says:

    I am a big fan of New Year’s, although I don’t go out. It’s a reflective time for me, a time for taking stock (which it sounds like you do with your partner, which is even better because it’s a shared history). And although I’d never previously heard of a Sankalpa (which sounds to me like an instant coffee crossed with a llama of some kind), my focus (like you, I’m not a fan of “resolutions”) for the coming year is thematically similar to yours (in fact you hit upon it later in this piece): to be present.

    Hope your 2016 is an awesome one!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      A new year is truly the best time for reflection. As we change the calendar, it’s a bit like crossing a life milestone. To be present is an awesome sankalpa…love it!

      And, I love that it sounds like instant coffee crossed with a llama. Because who doesn’t love coffee and llamas? 🙂

  6. lillianccc says:

    I really like the idea of a sankalpa, thanks for introducing that here! Up until a few years ago, I was big on writing out my New Year’s resolutions in my journal and then just as quickly forgetting about them as time went on. But now that I’m a bit more grounded and mature (I hope), I definitely think tuning into your inner self and being honest is the way to go if we want to get ourselves to a better place. Wishing you and Mr. H all the best in 2016!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Glad to share that with you, doll! Until I did my teacher training, I had never heard of it either. Chances are, I would have gone forever struggling with meaningless (and forgettable) resolutions.

      Tuning into your inner self and being honest…that’s a winning combo. Happy New Year, honey!

  7. Les Petits Pas de Juls says:

    Fabulous post and mantras, Britt! I’m with you! I’d love to fill 2016 with much more love, understanding and cherished little moments.
    I didn’t see your call for sharing sankalpas but I’d share mine here then…
    “Be happy of every day that passes, however beautiful or hard it’s been; be aware of it and be grateful.”

    I wish you and Mr. H a gorgeous 2016 filled with joy and many little and big moments of happiness.

  8. MarinaSofia says:

    Love this, Britt, and your sankalpa! I would probably choose something similar, but for this year specifically I would also add the rather selfish-sounding ‘Please no one but yourself!’ (after years of pleasing everyone but myself).

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      I was lucky to stumble upon my sankalpa this summer. Took me a while to let it sink in. 🙂

      That’s not selfish, honey. It’s important to take care of yourself and live your life. If you are content with your experiences, you’ll be open to others.

  9. diannegray says:

    I love your Living Consciously sankalpa, Britt.
    We all need to step away from the screen and inhale the beauty of life (this is also why I avoid the news like plague) 😉 Have a wonderful 2016, my friend xxx

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Absolutely, Dianne love! Oh, man. I quit the news many years ago. Every now and then my family will bring something up: Did you hear about this [insert suffering]? And I always tell them, “No.” They are shocked every time.

      Happy 2016, sweet cheeks!

  10. Zen A. says:

    Beautiful post! I’ve started getting less hung up on New Year as I grew older, so this year I stayed in with a good movie and some mac and cheese, and it was great. Of course, it’s nice when unexpected plans come up. 🙂

    I like the idea of the sankalpa, and I’ve “unconsciously” made one myself – “Care less.” It sounds a bit bad, but most of the time when I care, I care to the point of unhealthy obsession and end up hurting myself in the process. So this year I’ve decided to care less and focus a little more on myself, if that makes sense!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Oh, man! I love mac and cheese any day, so that sounds like heaven. I’m glad we had some unexpected plans that worked out awesomely this year. There was no build-up followed by disappointment, so it was really lovely.

      “Care less” isn’t bad at all. I can fall into that habit as well, and it never fails to make me miserable. I’ve started physically shrugging when I feel this coming on now and it totally helps. It’s kind of like smiling when you’re in a bad mood. It works!

  11. Andrea Stephenson says:

    Happy New Year to you Britt, this is a joyful post to begin the year with and I think that would have to be my sankalpa – joy. I think you already live more consciously than many, so I hope you can extend that to bring you a great year!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Love it, Andrea! Especially since mine was “enjoy” last year. I kept that with me throughout 2015, and it was a good reminder when I needed it.

      I try to live consciously, but I get wrapped with everything too. The screen time is the most difficult thing for me to balance because of work and blogging/writing. Even if it slows my progress down, I need to relax and get outside more.

  12. Karin Van den Bergh says:

    Fabulous post Britt and thank you for inviting me with the “opportunity” to express my own intentions for the new year.! 😉
    Happy New Year hon, and cheers to the Year of Conscious Living! I’ll be with you on this one 🙂

  13. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Awesome post, Britt! So sorry I was “checked out” during the move and subsequent holiday season. I am working on “being more open to change” this year. Our move made me realize how long it’s been since I was footloose and on the move more often than not. So this uprooting put me in a very scary place. I wasn’t able to maintain the intensity of my writing program these past three months. And I’ve become increasingly anxious about that. But at the same time, I was able to focus more on making our new house a home. On getting little things done. On spending time with some friends in our new space. I’ve missed my blogging community and am trying to figure out how to have everything by having less of any one thing and by increasing the intensity of the one thing I’m experiencing at any given time. Does that make sense?

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      I hope you’re settling in, Jilanne! I’ve been around, but I feel super behind on catching up with my fellow bloggers.

      Being more open to change is a great sankalpa…love it! Even though you haven’t been maintaining the same intensity with your writing, those all sound like good healthy things. Soon enough you’ll have a cozy home to write in.

  14. Sheila says:

    That’s a great idea to look back and talk about the year with each other. I’m used to looking forward and thinking of how to change things, but I’ll have to adopt your tradition and start looking back too. I’ve also been trying to disconnect here and there from social media because there’s never enough time. I end up missing everyone, but I’d rather be outside and away from the computer whenever possible. If I lived around the corner from a wine bar, I’d never get around to writing. 🙂 Happy New Goat Year!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      It is good to look back too, Sheila doll! I think our driven society makes us all concentrate too much on the future, and it’s important to remember the experiences that led us to where we are.

      Social media will get you, for sure! I’ve been scaling some of mine back as well. Going through the usual battle with trying to squeeze in time for my second draft right now, so I need to evaluate where I’m spending my free time (social/blogging) to make room.

      Living in our neighborhood is tough! There’s delicious food and wine/beer around every corner.

  15. Minuscule Moments says:

    Britt fantastic thoughts here, imagine a world if most people practiced yoga, it would definitely be a calmer and more loved world. I have noticed more people are searching for something. For me I chose to bring yoga back into my life for many reasons, healthy mind body and spirit. Im remembering how good it use to make me feel but also I feel more connected with my breathing and meditation than I ever have before. Early days but I am loving it and trying to do it daily.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      I love the idea of a Yoga world!

      Yes, you’ve been talking about reconnecting with Yoga and that makes me so happy. I went away from my routine when we moved to Portland, and I have slowly been returning to the Yoga/meditation practice I had back in Milwaukee. It’s crazy how a life event like that can totally change us, but I’m glad to reconnect with Yoga now. It’s amazing how those feel-good benefits happen instantly!

  16. vsvevg says:

    Thank you Britt, this post hits the mark for me on many levels. I always appreciate your wiliness to share. It has more impact than you may know 🙂 at least with this girl. I will start thinking about a sankalpa and get back to you 🙂 peace to you Britt.

  17. Roy McCarthy says:

    How interesting Britt. Really you should become a guru living in a remote cave (with WiFi of course). It’s great that you have that deep relationship with Mr H – something I was never capable of developing. No resolution or sankalpa for me but I love this post and your outlook on a renewal of your outlook on life.

  18. Kate Johnston says:

    I love the idea of making a sankalpa instead of a resolution. I think mine will be live, dream, and think positively! I’ll need this as I make a decision about traditional publishing vs self-publishing my MG novels. Gulp!

    I am attached to my computer, but for my stories, and little else. If I didn’t have a computer, then I’d be attached to my notebook. If I didn’t have a notebook, then I’d be attached to my imagination — I’m just naturally detached from the human world and I’m usually up in my head thinking and dreaming about people and places that don’t exist.

    When I do take a deep breath and come back to Earth, I can handle it for a little while before I have to get away again. Don’t worry, I remember to feed the kids and the pets whenever I’m in the real world. 🙂

    If you don’t live in a remote cave that Roy McCarthy suggests, I’ll live in it instead. 🙂

    Happy 2016!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Sounds like you need that cave Roy mentioned, for sure! For me, I have to be careful about being too much in my head. I used to go into hermit mode a lot, but Mr. H doesn’t allow that. It’s a good thing, because we balance each other out. I encourage him to relax at home, and he helps me get out of the house.

      Live, dream, and think positively is amazing! I’m excited for your writing journey this year. I’m going to attempt traditional when I get this WIP finished and see what happens. I figure there will be an expiration date, and then I will self-publish if nothing pans out.

  19. jmmcdowell says:

    I definitely like your approach to the New Year. Normally, I don’t make resolutions or set goals, but this year, the timing was right to take better care of my health again. So I’m increasing my physical activity and improving my food intake rather than set a deadline to lose “X” pounds. Upping that physical activity also gets me away from computers and TVs. 😉 And since better physical health leads to better mental health, I hope to also increase my creativity over the year.

    Best wishes with your sankalpa!

  20. Browsing the Atlas says:

    I love your sankalpa. Live Consciously. I need to ponder that a while.

    In 2015, I did have a mission for the year: to become stronger. I had no idea that it was almost going to be a requirement for me last year. 2015 was tough. I can’t say I succeeded in becoming stronger, but I was strong enough to survive the most brutal year of my life.

    So I want something less intensive for me this year. I want a quiet year of sorts. I think if I were to choose a sankalpa for 2016, it would be: to be me again.
    Yes. I like that. Here’s to 2016! 🙂

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Sounds like you had the right sankalpa last year to get you through the tough stuff, honey. I agree that a gentle more reflective choice will be good for you in 2016. Wishing you all the best as you get back to yourself.

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