I have a confession to make: I am terrible at sticking to new year's resolutions.
In fact, I've been so bad at keeping up with them in the past that I now don’t bother coming up with any sort of transformation plan for myself come January 1.
Why make the silly resolutions, anyways? What's so special about a current year ending and another one beginning? Are our lives going to dramatically change just because of the calendar and the way that we count days?
I've got to admit - the attempts of others to give up refined sugar, take up a new hobby or exercise daily are pretty impressive to observe in January and February. After all, it takes 30 days to implement a new habit, right? (By the way, not really - you can read more about that here)
But little by little these resolutions are abandoned as other priorities take up space. Eventually, they are forgotten and the old habits return.
So my question is: what if there's a better process than resolutions?
Joan Hyman, a professional yoga teacher and instructor, sees resolutions as specific and measurable goals that set us up for failure.
Often times it happens that the resolutions we make are too challenging and too narrow - it's either black or white, good or bad etc. We either cut out all fast food, or we fail to do so. There is no plan on how to achieve it - only a clearly defined goal.
If we focus purely on semantics, the word 'resolution' suggests that there is something incomplete or faulty about us. It implies that there is something in the way that we function that needs to be resolved, fixed and upgraded. Maybe even unconsciously we try to pick ourselves apart - we look for all the things that we “should” do. Usually, we make some sort of sacrifice in order to attain our rigorous future-oriented goals.
What’s the alternative then?
The energy of the new beginning, a fresh start, a clean slate is undeniably powerful, and we can almost feel it in the air at this time of year. Of course, our desire to shake things up and diversify our lives doesn't magically appear on January 1st. I believe that our wishes or dreams are deep within us at all times. The new year can provide a little motivational push towards starting again or from scratch with a calm, positive mindset.
What if we take a moment to listen to our hearts and become aware of our desires?
Gillian Florence Sanger, in her article, suggests that we always have a choice to "set mindful, clear and compassionate intentions" for the new yearly cycle.
Now, intentions are very different from resolutions. To begin with- they're not goals. Anchored in the present moment, they focus on our experience as it unfolds before us. When our life changes - intentions change as well.
While resolutions constrain us and limit our freedom, "intentions set us free to be our best selves".
With intentions, we don't put so much pressure on ourselves to do every single thing right, at the same time. They keep us accountable throughout the process in a compassionate and kind manner.
Intentions also facilitate the path of growth and self-development. When we decide to come back every day to the essence of who we are with an intention, the magic starts to happen. Our mind is given a direction, a purpose. There's a sense of clarity in our hearts.
The long-term effect of that? Living a life aligned with our values and yearnings.
Deepak Chopra once said:
“Everyday life surrounds us in swirling chaos, and it's easy to fall into the grip of our ego's fears and confusion.
Remind yourself each day of your intentions and spiritual purpose.
Meditate, find your centre, look closely at yourself, and don't let go of your intention until it feels centred inside yourself.”
Take as much time as you need to reflect upon various areas of your life: professional, romantic, personal etc. Listen carefully to your inner voice. It will connect you to the truth deep within you.
Here are some questions that might help:
What would I like to spend more time and attention on the upcoming year?
What brings me the most joy and satisfaction?
Where can I introduce a positive change in my life?
Imagine what it might feel like, maybe even you can visualise a life in which you implement these changes...
Finally, grab your journal and note everything down…
Can you see any common points?
Is there a pattern or a clear priority emerging?
Try to put your intention into a mantra. It can be one sentence, or even one word if you feel like it's enough. Sometimes less is more. Whatever the length, make sure that your words are saturated with compassion.
Here are some examples that might help:
I embrace myself just the way I am.
I prioritise my health and treat my body well.
Patience and Kindness.
Dedicate this present moment to meditate on your new mantra. Turn your attention inwards and notice how your body, mind and heart feel.
Surrender and put your trust in the power greater than you.
End the intention setting process with a mindful ritual which will still your mind and comfort your heart.
A friendly reminder:
The work that we do with intentions is an everyday practice. It's absolutely crucial to come back to them, to show up to the practice in order to be able to fully embody our intentions.
These seemingly small decisions of dedicating 10-15 minutes per day to remind ourselves of our essence, of the definition of who we want to be and how we want to carry ourselves, when accumulated have a huge impact on the course of our lives.
What will be your first step? Let us know in the comment section below!