What Does It Mean to be a People of Intention?

Our January theme is Intention.

“Here’s what I discovered. Intention is different from setting goals or resolutions in that it “pulls us into” who we truly are. Goals and resolutions “push us out” into future possibilities. To set intentions, we listen to our inner voice which tells us who we truly are.”

Katie Covey, on what she learned from Soul Matters colleagues during their brainstorming session on being a people of intention

So here we are again, in January with its talk of daring resolutions and its demanding call to “become better.” It’s hard not to buy into it. After all, it seems so well-intended. I mean, who could argue with the goal of self-improvement? And so most of us gladly go along and declare “This is the year I’m going to finally be a better me!”

But are we sure this is what we want? When you read that quote above about being “pulled in” rather than “pushed out,” what happens in your heart? Do you find yourself still excited about the New Year’s work of striving to become a brand new self? Or do you suddenly notice an internal whisper that says “I long to be pulled in more deeply to the self I already am?” In other words, maybe our real New Year’s work is not about leaping into self-improvement, but about pausing, stepping back and asking “What hunger has my heart?”

There is, after all, a big difference between becoming better and becoming ourselves. Self-improvement is not the same as self-alignment. Wanting to get from point A to point B is something quite different from longing to find your inner anchor. Goals and intentions may indeed be more distinct than we have thought.

So this month, maybe our most important work is to make room. All around us, there’s going to be plenty of busy talk about being “a people of goals and resolutions.” We are going to get more than enough advice about how to stay focused on a new future for ourselves. But in the midst of it all, may we, as a people of intention, also carve out a quieter place that keeps our attention closer to the present and who we already are at our center. May we make space for listening before we leap into the striving. And as we do that, maybe we will discover that this isn’t the year of “finally becoming a better me.”

Excerpt from Soul Matters Curriculum.