Hello 2020: Intention-Setting for the New Year

A selfie with my 'new' friends Mariana and Nazhah and 'old' friends Gabriela and Nivia. 

Imagine if 2019 was a protective sibling or parent who asked: "What are your intentions with my sister/brother/daughter/son 2020?". That's what came to mind when I first thought of my intentions for 2020. But all silliness aside, when my friend Gabriela shared a post about The Demureist's Women's Social for setting our intentions for 2020 I knew I had to be there. I wanted to challenge myself and surround myself with conscious and ambitious women and most of all, I wanted to carve out the time to think about my intentions for 2020.

Mariana Aguilera and Nazhah Khawaja, the women behind The Demureist, facilitated robust discussions about redefining success according to our individual paths and goals as we introduced ourselves, shared, laughed and cried together about our gifts, challenges, and intentions for the future. The idea was to be aware of where we have been and where we are holistically - mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically - so we can be present - mind, heart, body and soul - before we set our intentions and goals for the new year. It was a timely reminder that everything that has happened until this point is significant and meaningful. Everything in the past was preparing us for this moment. It is up to you to choose to rise or not.

Being grateful for the past can make us see the present and envision the future with more clarity, positivity and hope. 

We also designed our personal intention/mood boards for 2020. My intention/mood board reflects my main intentions for 2020 and beyond:

  • abundance (as in, abundance mindset and 'heartset')
  • radiance
  • authenticity
  • progress

I defined what each intention meant to me and wrote specific goals related to each intention because specificity leads to focus and 'ruthless priorities'. At the same time, I am keeping my heart and mind open to possibilities that are beyond my imagination. If I could do anything differently that day, I would write a 2019 gratitude list before creating the intention/mood boards but it's never too late to do that. (It's also never too late to create your own 2020 intention/mood board and/or make changes or additions to it as the year goes by.)


My intention/mood board for 2020.

From the beginning to the end, the event consisted of nothing but vibes of positivity and perseverance. The room was filled with a mix of women who would shatter any negative stereotypes about women, especially Muslim women, as each and every one us there had different dreams, passions, strengths and came from different cultural and professional backgrounds while having the same unbreakable drive to do good and live purposefully.

Being an ambitious do-er is celebrated in our society. Do-ers get things done and make things better. Or at least, they want to. When do-ers can't get things done, they're thinking about it. But for 2020 onwards, I want to thrive not just outwardly (physically and financially) and go beyond the capitalistic view of getting things done. I want to challenge the notion that productivity is only about external work and worth and love myself and others beyond these ideas, and that begins with reflecting on my intentions and why I do what I do and challenging my beliefs, particularly about myself, while being gentle with myself.


Adapted from '10 Signs of a Doer and How to be a Good One' via LifeHack.org 


I've wondered what separates us human do-ers from animal do-ers, like lions who hunt for prey that they can feast on for dinner. Animals are motivated by their survival instincts but that doesn't mean they're lesser than us. Human beings can learn a lot about survival and even about empathy, creativity, community and altruism from various fascinatingly complex animals. In some aspects, we're not better than animals. However, we have a degree of advantage over animals due to a fundamental difference: our ability to self-reflect, have self-awareness and change our behavior due to our brain’s capacity for neuroplasticity.

Unlike animals, we were meant to do more than just survive. We were meant to thrive. (It's almost like we were created for a higher purpose!)

Neuroplasticity is defined as the brain’s ability to change continuously throughout an individual's life. While taking into consideration that neuroplasticity is extremely variable across individuals, it is an ability many of us possess. Billions of pathways in our brains light up every time we think, feel, or do something. But without this knowledge we might not know the significance of our ability to choose to reflect, adapt, evolve, grow and set intentions.




If being alive for 32 years has taught me anything, it's that life doesn't always go according to plan and that can actually be a very good thing when we learn and grow from it. How wonderful for things in life to happen beyond our limited imagination! The wisdom behind setting and renewing intentions is that we're more likely to find a way to move forward because we're able to 're-wire' our brains and train our minds to see the good in any situation and form new habits that support our dreams and intentions.




As we usher in the new year and decade, it feels good to strive towards our goals but I hope we will also think about how amazing it is to be given the gift of neuroplasticity and think about our intentions, not only our goals and to-do lists. Let's continue to ask and remind ourselves, "Who and what are we living for?" and find hope in the fact that we have the ability to self-reflect, challenge ourselves and a create a new and improved lifestyle with healthier habits, intentions, goals, and beliefs about ourselves while being kind to ourselves.

Happy New Year! May 2020 be the best year yet for all of us !



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