As we step into the New Year it has become a traditional practice to set New Year’s resolutions. But I would like to suggest instead setting intentions. Resolutions are too often broken, creating a sense of failure. Intentions are more like an arrow pointing a general direction we’re headed, and have a more forgiving feel to them. They’re also more realistic.

Some questions that may be helpful to you when considering what intentions you’d like to set are: 1) Does your life feel like it’s aligned with your current purpose? 2) what are the distractions that most often pull you off purpose? And 3) where and how do you get the most support for staying on purpose?

The answers to these questions can guide you in setting intentions. For example, if your life does not feel aligned with your purpose, or you have no idea what your purpose even is, you might set an intention to be open to discovering it for yourself and even asking for help.

If you have a sense of what your purpose is, but have difficulty staying aligned with it, the other questions can be helpful. Identifying the ways you distract yourself is important. These are usually addictive behaviors but not always. Anything that pulls you off your path and keeps you stuck is not serving you.

This is not about being perfect and never doing these things but about bringing more awareness into your life. Setting an intention to do less of something is more realistic than resolving never to do it. And stating it in a more positive way, as something you can do, rather than as something to not do, is even better. One of my intentions for 2017 is to be kinder and gentler to myself. Another is to trust life at a deeper level.

Knowing who and what are actual supports for staying on purpose is essential. Being around people and activities that inspire and uplift me is the easiest way I know how to stay on purpose. For instance, I can’t imagine life without a daily meditation practice. My morning meditation sets the tone for the day. I do this with my life partner so we support each other in this practice.

How about you? What helps you keep on track for yourself? Has it become embedded in your daily routine? Are there people in your life you know you can count on to support you and offer appropriate guidance? One of the things I set an intention for last year was to meet new people who could help lift me to the next rung of my personal and spiritual development. I’m happy to say that happened.

What I like about setting intentions in this way is that it is not so much an act of personal will but a kind of prayerful aligning with our higher self, or the Universe, in a working partnership. I invite you to try and let me know how it goes for you.