As yoga class begins, the instructor often invites participants to “set an intention” for the practice. It could be serenity, gratitude or being fully present. Or something else.
What’s your intention for the coming year, especially as it pertains to your writing? What will you focus on?
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The week between Christmas and New Year’s provides an opportunity to pause, to breathe. To set an intention for the year. Some folks choose a word, or let a word find them. Other make resolutions or set goals. I’m not real big on resolutions, as they’re easily abandoned.
But I am a fan of getting quiet and listening, of paying attention to life, opportunities, the voice of God.
I recently read and enjoyed Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life by Arthur C. Brooks. Brooks, a Harvard prof and social scientist who studies happiness, opens his book with a truth many of us would rather not hear: “your professional decline is coming.”
Yikes. And yet. The book is hopeful, as it outlines how those of us who find ourselves in the second half of life can continue to find meaning and purpose.
Our innovation and creative efforts, no matter our career, are fueled by what Brooks calls our fluid intelligence. Like anything, our level of fluid intelligence grows but then declines on a curve. Rather than clinging to the success that our fluid intelligence once provided, Brooks invites the reader to consider focusing instead on what he calls “crystalized intelligence—the ability to use a stock of knowledge learned in the past.” He writes about how to jump from one curve to the other, avoiding that decline by shifting our focus.
In other words, decline can be delayed by shifting from trying to gain knowledge (and struggling to keep up) to using the knowledge you have—in other words, tapping into your wisdom.
One way to use the stock of knowledge: mentoring and teaching.
What does your “crystalized intelligence” look like? What wisdom do you possess, simply because of your experiences? Your successes and even your failures have taught you more than you might realize.
I will hit a milestone birthday in February. Anticipating that has triggered some reflection. What do I want to do with the next decade of my life? What do I want to accomplish?
Believe me, there’s a lot. My goals spill beyond my writing life: I am “setting intentions” for travel, fitness, finances, and more. As a writer, I plan to continue to practice my craft. But reading this book intrigues me. How can I jump into using my crystalized intelligence?
I intend to pursue opportunities to use my “stock of knowledge” about writing and publishing. I already do that with my writing and publishing company, A Powerful Story. It’s why I’ve said yes to teaching at writers’ conferences. It’s why I started this newsletter: it’s a way to offer wisdom and mentoring to other writers.
I also plan to start an online writing community where I can coach writers. Be sure to subscribe to hear more about that very soon!
How about you? What are your writing goals and intentions for the coming year? Maybe they have something to do with finishing the book you’ve started. Maybe it’s finally sharing your wisdom (your crystalized intelligence) about business, parenting, spirituality, or something else by writing about it: a book, a blog, an article.
Not sure how to turn that intention into a reality? Wouldn’t it be cool if my goal of mentoring others, and your goal of finally writing your book could coalesce? Again, I invite you to subscribe so you can be sure to hear about upcoming opportunities.
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A great article!
I love the use of intention setting for the writing year ahead! Thanks for your wisdom.