New Year’s Intentions Process
I’ve appreciated reflection as an intentional practice for as long as I can remember. My tradition of creating what I've come to call 'New Years Intentions' really began when I started journaling in 8th grade, thanks to an assignment from a favorite English teacher named Mr. (Jeff) Hoeg. Since then, journaling has been one of my most trusted methods for sorting out my own inner chaos alongside the external chaos we all have to learn to swim through.
Somewhere along the way (perhaps during college? I’ve found lists back to 2007), I began having increasingly-lengthy year-end journaling sessions to reflect on my most recently completed trip around the sun in relation to the calendar year. I’ve gone through various methods in how to coax out the best results, including lists I’ve found on blogs, prompts suggested by friends and things I’ve dreamed up on my own.
Over time, I've whittled these ideas down into a set of steps that work for me in directing my year-end reflection. These steps are most helpful for people who 1) already have a writing practice and 2) perhaps also already have a history of making New Years Intentions or Resolutions:
- Priming writing: Take a little time to write what's on your mind as a way to 'clear the slate' and get the words falling out of your brain-body, through your pen and onto the page.
- Revisit previous year’s intentions: This step is useful for folks who created some sort of list or set of ideas from the past year. Locate them, sit with them a bit, and write down anything that comes to you immediately.
- Review past year’s personal writings (journal and blog), writing about progress and areas of opportunity related to your intentions, as well as new themes or ideas that emerge.
- This year reflection questions: Guided by what you uncovered in the previous step, answer these questions: What did you experience this year? How did you progress/ achieve, and what are areas of opportunity in relation to your intentions?
- Next year reflection questions: Guided by what you uncovered in steps 3 and 4, answer these questions: What do you want to experience next year? What continued and new themes emerged in your writings from the year that could use some of your focus?
- Framing your intentions: Examine your writings from the step 5 prompt, and format them into words/ phrases/ a list you can remember and revisit throughout the coming year to help you toward your desired experiences.
Steps 1-3 occurred in physical writing in my journal. Steps 4 and 5 will live in this post, and Step 6 will live in it's own. Here we go Step 4!
Step 4: This year reflection questions -
What did you experience this year?
Having gone back to read my writings from the year, it became increasingly easy to say "So many good things!" Professionally, I brought Rhythmically Speaking to year 10 and reimagined our impact, I quickly wrote and funded a revised annual program for RS that makes me excited to continue with this work and will (hopefully, we'll see!) allow me to fulfill a lot of my own goals, and established a re(new)ed board. I had my best grant year ever, getting three! - competitive MRAC Next Step, MRAC AA and the St. Paul Cultural Star on my first try. In this, I continued to realize how pivotal grad school was to me in being able to efficiently and effectively communicate about my artistic interests and their ability to impact. I produced my best-attended show EVER (CHILL) with more than 500 people in attendance, great audience and press reviews, and real artistic glow - assisted by the fact that I'd wanted to do that show for SO LONG! A DECADE! I created an evening-length solo(eqsue) piece that was almost entirely improvised and heavy on collaboration. I performed three separate Contempo engagements, and learned a lot about how I wish to treat and be treated in professional performance scenarios. I completed my fifth season as goofball Nerdette, and even got booked for it outside the stadium!
I revamped my own website and RS's, I opened and closed a fiscal sponsorship for short-lived idea Erinn Liebhard Dance, I put a great deal of thought and action into professional strategic planning, and am really excited to see where it will all go in the upcoming calendar year (as well as how it will impact beyond that). I also created a Facebook page for my own work as "Erinn Liebhard: Dance Artist." I developed marketing and financial systems for both RS and my freelancing that feel concurrent with one another and in that easier to use. I attended the national NDEO conference again and booked a national gig (Idaho) that I've wanted for years. I further developed professional and artistic connections at Melanie's "The Woodshed" - what an amazing week. Proof that sometimes investing in your art (without certain return) can be HIGHLY worth it. I continued to build a group of dancers that understand my work and gel so well with each other, and I continue to learn how to handle that "project based" model as a creator. I learned a great deal about how I work and my inspirations when creating the Right Here piece.
I started in on my fourth and final (for now) year teaching in higher education at Winona State. I had the pleasure of attending a third ACDA as an educator and continuing to build connections in that sphere. I was hired by my alma matter to do an audition panel, and later asked to teach a class (which I unfortunately had to turn down, but none the less!). I had some amazing residencies with the Cowles Center, including my highlights - the Creations day at the Cowles and the MovementWise off-sites. What an electric experience. I created a new work for SPCPA and remounted a work on River Falls. I taught a J-term for Gustavus, and worked my way through the disappointment of not getting hired there. I served as a Minnesota State Arts Board Evaluator and got to see and review some great performances. I made (better) on my desire to keep my professional writing up by creating reviews of shows I saw and posting them here, AND I got an in-practice article written up and selected for the Dance Education in Practice journal. I continued to teach the Friday Morning Jazz class with Karla, working to keep our community regularly excited about training in jazz. I MCed EEE's fundraiser and the talk-back for their final show before a potentially indefinite pause, and that was very gratifying. Finally, I reduced my 'buckets' from five to two - Education and Performance.
Personally, I travelled to Colorado with Kris for Josie's high school graduation, and we got to have dinner at Jill's for our anniversary and spend a lot of time with Jessica. Man, I'm so grateful for those friends. I continued into my now years-long (seeming perhaps life-long) journey exploring personal growth, and came to appreciate and be really interested in the value of sleep! In fact, a couple times in my journal, I wrote about nights I woke up and could really FEEL how my body had been working to regenerate me! I (re)discovered interests in clothing style, cults, food - cooking, nutrition, diets and policy in specific, and hoarding - all, as Kris put together, interests that seem to revolve around human habit and expression. It felt really good to allow myself to invest in these I don't want to say hobbies (seems disparaging), but areas of curiosity that have fed my growth as a human. I also feel I'm finding systems that allow these curiosities to feed one another, making it more efficient for me to pursue them. For example, I like to watch videos and listen to podcasts about my interests WHILE I cook. I saw a lot more live music than I thought I had, so I feel like I'm mak(ing) good on this intention/ desire. I took myself on a professional/ personal retreat to Myer-Big Island State Park and camped for a night.
I had a couple NASTY days and nights of drinking, decreasing my overall alcohol consumption (particularly casual consumption - I still tend to hit it hard on the big ones, but wish to do so with intention). I finally got to Dance Church, and stepped up my game (not as much as I would have hoped, but DID) on getting out to dance socially, at swing dances in particular. I officiated and MCed the wedding of two of my best friends - one of my deepest honors to date as a holder of friendships. I finally took a self-defense seminar. I coaxed Kris into letting us dog-sit and we did a lot of it!
How did you progress/ achieve, and what are areas of opportunity in relation to your intentions?
I think part of why I want to have more clear, literal intentions this year is that I am finding this question difficult to answer, cut and dried. Here's what I've sussed out:
- Vitality - Bettering my diet and sleep: I definitely think I have progressed with this desire. I continue to cook more, expand my nutrition and other food-related knowledge, and have started to delve into research about sleep, as well as putting it into action. I definitely see myself continuing with this as an intention, continuing to place importance on sleep.
- Vitality - Having one purposeful physical experience per day in addition to profession: This included circuit workouts, yoga, etc. (not morning walks). I went in and out of being committed to this practice. Sometimes I lagged because I was sick, and found it the right thing to do to take a break. Sometimes it was just - not laziness - perhaps setting unrealistic expectations for what I could do in a day? I desire to continue working toward this goal, with building of reasonable expectations in mind as something that will help. I also want to add to the list of possibilities for this yoga in the living room (gotta get a mat!) and tapping on the tap board downstairs.
- Purpose - Social dancing and live music: I feel off and on on hitting that goal. I again think I may have been unreasonable in how much I thought I might go do this. I do think giving myself a pass when (if!) I am in rehearsal with Contempo is advisable, and also think planning to get these kicks more frequently though Dance Church, Temple Tuesdays and Sunday sessions is a good idea - they are more my speed time-of-day-wise! As for music, I want to be more planned about which shows I'll go to - maybe make it a goal to get more on my calendar.
- Purpose - Writing reactions to live music and dance shows: I came to this with more than I thought I had. I think I got disappointed in myself for not writing a reaction EVERY TIME I went, which looking back on it seems like an unreasonable expectation. Perhaps I'll hold myself to the intention to write them when I feel moved. I often do, so I am not worried that I WON'T actually do this.
- Purpose - Performing and choreographing more: I performed with Contempo three times and in my own work three times this year, now that I think about it (along with Nerdetting and various other little gigs). I basically released myself from trying for EE, and feel pretty confident in that decision. It was exciting to do those gigs and to start to learn interesting skills like fire twirling, but that was another one of those "I can get interested in anything!" scenarios. Would I like to twirl fire? Yes. Would I like to go to more festivals? Yes. Would I LOVE to keep building my own work? Yes. Hell Yeah or No (Sivers). I love this concept. I'm feeling really good in this category, and things look good for the coming year/s in terms of my plans for making - two shows a year through RS - a me project and the annual project, and occasional freelancing (specific opportunities I apply to, grants I receive, opportunities to create work for educational institutions) feels like an excellent balance. That said, I noticed how easy it was for me to get out of whack when too many of these things overlapped. It WAS helpful to recognize the ebbs and flows of my level of commitment throughout the year, though there were a couple of times that felt, despite that, like too much. I want to keep committing myself to looking further out and better understanding where things lie before saying Hell Yeah. I do have to see what happens with Contempo, but I am honestly feeling really at peace with whatever may come.
- Contribution - Donating 1% of income: Done, and will do it again!
- Contribution - Practicing my 'inner smile': Always working on this, and really am feeling my mindset and defaults change. Planning to change this to "practicing kindness."
What do you want to experience next year?
Performance, teaching, social dance, live music, good food I make, increased nutrition and food policy knowledge, increased fitness, increased ability to balance commitments, travel.
What continued and new themes emerged in your writings from the year that could use some of your focus?
- Vitality: Embracing that gratitude is not about thinking, it's about noticing (Cain).
- Vitality: When writing, label not only when, but where as well.
- Vitality: Placing focus on moving, eating and sleeping for wellness - cooking often, having one purposeful physical experience daily outside of professional activities (walks (not including morning), tapping and yoga at home, circuit workouts, classes and social dancing.
- Vitality: Understanding complexity as a means of simplicity as the overarch of the human puzzle.
- Vitality: Expand yourself - including activities for growth (cooking, reading, listening to podcasts about style, food, cults, hoarding and any other interests!) within daily habits.
- Vitality: Camp three times.
- Vitality: Continued recognition of the ebbs and flows of my level of commitment throughout the year as a means of distributing my time, energy and attention resources, and the need to look further out and better understand where things lie before committing. Is this where expectation management plays in? Protecting my time before 9:30am whenever possible. Keeping time open and embracing the conditions to choose how to spend it (summer especially - ex: weather!).
- Vitality: Continue expansion of financial success with endeavors, understanding there will be ebb and flow given changes in professional commitments.
- Purpose: Social dance and live music experiences - attending Dance Church, Temple Tuesdays and Sunday sessions when I am not in night time rehearsals, and putting more live music shows onto my calendar and buying tickets to make it more likely I'll go!
- Purpose: Writing reactions to live music and dance shows I experience and posting them on the blog.
- Purpose: Successfully balance producing two fully-fledged productions and creating as a freelancer contracted by educational and performance institutions.
- Contribution - Donate 1% of income.
- Contribution - Practice kindness. Recognizing insecurities as opportunities.