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Out with the Resolution, In with the Intention

It's a new year. This is usually the time we reflect on the past 365 days. And if you follow the pressure of society, you may be setting your resolutions. Naming all the bad habits you want to stop and all the healthy habits you're suppose to start. Maybe you've heard, you've probably experienced... Resolutions don't work!

Here's the definition of a resolution according to Oxford Language, "a firm decision to do or not to do something." A firm decision. That sounds hopeful and motivating. I mean if we're making a firm decision we have thought it through, made appropriate plans, and are very confident in this decision, right? ... Right?

Hummm... I don't recall being that thoughtful, planned, or confident in my resolutions over the years. Am I the only one? What I remember is the 31st abruptly presenting itself and me being smacked in the face by all the goals I haven't met and areas I'm falling short in. So I make my resolution.... the new year will be different, better!!

And how long does this last? A few days, weeks, if you're lucky, a few months. And low and behold, the resolution has stopped, I'm beating myself up for it and feeling pretty crappy for not making this life change.
Why can't I stick to it? What's wrong with me? Why can't I get it together and be better?

Here are a few reasons resolutions don't work.

  • They aren't thought out with detailed plans of how to follow through and accomplish them.

  • They are not broken down into small, manageable steps, making them easier and less intimidating.

  • We often make these resolutions out of negativity, disgust, and criticism towards ourselves instead of from compassion and love for ourselves.

  • Resolutions are usually very big life changes, meaning, we don't know how to change it, we can't make the changes completely on our own, and they take longer to see results.

  • Resolutions are big commitments and a lot of pressure.

  • They're simply not realistic!

I propose we make intentions instead. Here's what Oxford Language says an intention is, "a thing intended; an aim or plan." An intention is less direct and less pressure.

Rather than changing one huge habit, we are creating a new way of being. An intention is more broad, it's a commitment to yourself, and a mental focus for how you want to live your life.

Examples of intentions:
  • Healthy mind, body, and spirit

  • Love myself

  • Connect to nature

  • Be vulnerable

  • Stay in the present moment

  • Build my relationships

  • Have fun

  • Be creative

Here are 10 steps for setting an intention.

  1. Come into a meditative and reflective state, quieting and focusing your mind.

  2. Allow yourself to connect with your intuition, true-self, inner wisdom, core being, or whatever else you call this place within.

  3. Ask yourself these questions: What matters most to you? What would you like to let go of? What would you like to build, create, or nurture in your life? When are you your happiest self? What does that feel like? What fears would you like to release? What are you grateful for?

  4. Bringing these thoughts and feelings together, make a list of what stands out or shows up the most.

  5. Decide on your intention for the year. What do you want to live by? How do you want to present yourself to the world? How do you want to feel about yourself? What commitment are you making to yourself about how you want to live in the days, weeks, and months to come?

  6. To bring it all together and organize your thoughts, come up with a mantra, a statement or slogan that represents your aim for the year.

  7. Write this mantra down, or if you're feeling creative make a collage, drawing, or painting with this statement.

  8. Post your intention somewhere visible and read it every day.

  9. Don't beat yourself up if you miss the mark. This is a target, it's okay to not get the bullseye every time. We keep practicing and try again. Eventually we get closer and closer to that target.

  10. Set time to reflect on your progress. Maybe each week or each month, see how you're doing. Do you need to adjust your sights or try something different? Practice gratitude for your efforts and compassion for being human and not perfect.

Cheers to Intentions for the New Year!


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