The countdown to 2013 is nearing the end. The new year is right around the corner. Yes, it’s that time again – when people want to shed bad habits and start fresh.
It’s time for New Year’s resolutions.
Or rather let’s not talk about New Year’s resolutions, but New Year’s intentions.
What is the difference between resolutions and intentions?
Resolutions have this notorious reputation for being difficult, unenjoyable, and somewhat of a sacrifice. Although some people are able to stick to resolutions, about one-third break them before the end of January.1 Popular resolutions include lose weight, quit smoking, save more money, eat better, drink less, travel more – all the most commonly broken resolutions according to Time.
The goals people often set are firm, restrictive, draconian, and likely ghosts from New Years Past. It’s something difficult enough for people to postpone to “later”, like the new year, to attempt.
One reason resolutions barely see the light of day is many people are simply not ready. Some of these resolutions, like losing weight, often result from indulgences over the Christmas holidays. Other resolutions come about because people are either doing it for loved ones or think the resolutions will make them happier, healthier, safer…even though they may still enjoy or are addicted to the “bad habit”.
Intentions, on the other hand, are empowering affirmations and announcements of how people want to live their lives, whether it is being kinder to oneself or creating deeper shifts.
While resolutions focus on the future with the goals, they address faults, real or perceived, in the present and seek to correct them. Resolutions are often based on lack or fear, like a health scare. Intentions, on the other hand, are rooted in the present and are formed from what is important now and how to move forward and unfold. When people meet themselves in the present and bring it back to what they can do now, it is empowering. It is not about fixes but rather an inner journey and a daily practice. More of a heart-based right-brained activity.
There are no end goals and no final destinations. No “must” and no “should”. Life is change and an adventure. Instead of setting goals for the entire year, receive each day as new and full of possibilities. Start the day and see what can be done to affirm the intentions. It is about mindful living.
Because intentions are set from a place of self-love, faltering is just another lesson. These road bumps are opportunities to check in with the inner guru. Stop and smell the roses. Stop and tie the shoelaces. Stop and readjust the compass. In contrast, breaking resolutions, especially early on, often causes self-confidence to plummet and self-judgment to set in.
In a society that often measures worth by external parameters, setting intentions can create powerful personal shifts. Getting to the why of what people want to do helps them set more meaningful goals, goals aligned with their life vision.
Setting intentions is not about doing away with goals altogether. There is no less accountability and it is a concrete but creative process. It is about setting the stage for maximum success to realize potential and to achieve real change.
Tips on Setting Intentions and Living an Intentioned Life:
1 Write Down Your Intentions
Put on paper your intentions in a positive and affirming way. Try posting them at key places like your bathroom mirror, computer, and front door. Speak your intentions out loud every time you see the reminders, and whenever you are having a “bad day”.
2 Use Compelling Words to Set Your Intentions
Words like authentic, clarity, freedom, gratitude, and abundance are power words that are compelling. Using words that inspire us helps us keep on track. Using short powerful statements helps keep the intentions and us focused. They also make good mantras to use on a daily basis.
3 Share Your Intentions
It’s been shown that sharing what we desire helps us be more accountable, and thereby more likely to get where we want to go. Choose positive and supportive people who want you to succeed. These people know when to cheer you on and when to call you out.
Why not start an Intentions Group and meet regularly?
4 Do Something Every Day
Setting intentions is the first step. Living your intentions requires you to take steps every day. Do something, no matter how small, to affirm your intentions. Try to be creative and have fun.
Intentions are an ongoing process and are not set once, for an entire year. Life changes and we change and what we desire changes along the way. Check in often, get to know yourself well, and recalibrate your intentions to reflect these changes.
Celebrate the life you desire, especially as it unfolds. Acknowledge the change and celebrate you.
1Will Your Resolutions Last Until February? by Tara Parker-Pope.