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USING ONE-WORD INTENTIONS TO FOSTER DEEPER CONNECTIONS

This post was originally published in my Living My Legacy substack channel. Do check it out for other writings/musings.


A yearly practice that I have been doing for 9 years now is taking the time to reflect on the year that was and to tune into a one word intention that can guide my decisions for the new year. Last year I had re-rooting as my one-word intention and true enough I have experienced re-rooting in different forms. It also helped me spread the message of the importance of rootedness. (Check out this re-rooting talk I gave for Happy Start-up Summercamp!)


This year I settled on “unfurl”. It was inspired by the poem FOR A NEW BEGINNING by John O'Donohue:


In out-of-the-way places of the heart,

Where your thoughts never think to wander,

This beginning has been quietly forming,

Waiting until you were ready to emerge.


For a long time it has watched your desire,

Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,

Noticing how you willed yourself on,

Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.


It watched you play with the seduction of safety

And the gray promises that sameness whispered,

Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,

Wondered would you always live like this.


Then the delight, when your courage kindled,

And out you stepped onto new ground,

Your eyes young again with energy and dream,

A path of plenitude opening before you.


Though your destination is not yet clear

You can trust the promise of this opening;

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning

That is at one with your life's desire.


Awaken your spirit to adventure;

Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;

Soon you will home in a new rhythm,

For your soul senses the world that awaits you.


Reading this I was instantly drawn to the word “unfurl”. I have been seeing this word since last week and after reading this poem, I knew it is the energy that I want to bring into for 2024.

I was even inspired to write this poem on what “unfurl” means for me:


Unfurl


Unfurl

Spread out

Let your wings

Unfold

Roll it open

Make it wide

Spread it out

Deep or high

Slowly release

What you have

Tightly held

Extend

Uncoil

Let your body

Feel relaxed

Your muscles loose

Your shoulders dropped

And like a sail

Let the wind

Move you in flow

In this space of chaos

Of uncertainties

Of liminality

Invite what needs to be revealed

To emerge

To evolve

To unravel

To unfurl


Yet, doing my own intentions is one thing. Doing it together as a family unit is another experience all together. Every year for the past 6 years, our first family conference is about:

  • revisiting our experiences from the previous year

  • sharing our dreams and longings for the new year,

  • sharing our personal one-word intentions, and lastly

  • to collectively agree on a one-word family intention

Throughout the years I have tried different ways to facilitate this process and for the past 3 years, this practice seems to be the one that enables our teenagers to fully be into it:


  1. 3-2-1 Share at least 3 celebrations for the past year, 2 challenges that you’ve encountered, and 1 learning (can be a skill or shift in mindset) that you have embraced.

  2. Give ample time for each one to share  their celebrations first, then after everyone had their turn, to share the challenges, and lastly, the learning.

  3. This next part  is all about exploring our dreams and longings. It might make it easier to focus on one specific area at a time (create buckets) and to list down the wishes under each area. Areas to reflect on can be around:

         - personal habits

         - relational (family/friends/partners)

         - school/career

         - new skills or experiences to do alone, or with others

         - contribution (what to do for others)

         - ongoing wishes from the previous year

         - challenges faced from the previous year

         - goals (i.e. financial, physical)

  1. Take the time for each one to share their longings and dreams.

  2. This year as the kids are also older (15 and 16), I added another layer to our new year intention setting. We did a collective harvesting on each other and shared how we experienced each other’s connection (as that was our one-word for 2023). I am truly loving this process of sharing, asking questions, and hearing from our kids how they experienced our parenting.

  3. Once that was done, we then individually tune in with words that can anchor us in our dreams and longings as a family. After sharing the words we thought of, we select and agree on a one-word intention to support us and guide our family for the coming months. What we all agreed to was “Presence” as our 2024 one-word family intention.

  4. The next part of this collective reflection and intention setting is making the one-word visible. Since we didn’t have ample time for this, we will be doing this “See-hear-feel” for the next family conference.

  5. How do we see this word in action?

  6. How do we hear this word in action?

  7. How do we feel this word in action?

Collective One-word Intention Setting



Collective one-word intention setting




our one-word intention family board




We placed the board in a prominent place in our living room so we are easily reminded of our intentions. We also made an agreement to revisit our personal and family intentions on a quarterly basis. This was because we all agreed that the first half of 2023 seemed to have passed by in a blur.














What do you think of this process?

Is this something that you, your family, your collaborators can benefit from?


Let me know in the comments or email me. I would love to know how this practice can support you, your love ones, and those that you collaborate with.


Hiraya manawari,

Lana


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