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? How will you build your writing life in 2023?

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.

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 realize we’re 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.

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?

(Read the rest of this post on my Substack newsletter)