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A Fresh Perspective for 2018

Why I'm setting intentions, not resolutions

Photo by Tyler Lillico on Unsplash

January 1 is the traditional time for a “new start”. It’s also the day of a Super Moon – which increases the power of whatever you put your energy into. This year I am thinking a lot about intentions, rather than resolutions. Intentions are reflective of how we want to feel and act going forward. In my mind, it’s a kinder, more compassionate way of considering (and accepting) who I want to be as my best self.

I’ve tried resolutions in the past. Who hasn’t said some version of: “this year, I’m going to the gym 5 times a week, no matter what!” and then felt bad, or guilty, when the resolution “failed” before the end of the month? It may not have been the gym. You might have made a resolution to eat “better”, or to stop complaining, or some other behavior that you felt you “should” change.

The problem with resolutions is that it’s a set-up for seeing yourself as succeeding or failing. A resolution is a commitment, but without the compassionate understanding that as a human, there are going to be bumps in the road. And all so often with resolutions, once you hit a bump and don’t make it to the gym, or eat French fries, or have a crappy day at work, you begin a negative internal dialogue. You know the one – it goes something like “Ugh, it’s only January 19th and I’ve already failed at my resolution. I never stick to anything. Why do I even bother setting resolutions? Nothings going to change anyway”. And so the spiral begins.

Maybe you’re not quite as harsh to yourself (I certainly hope so!), but working with people for over 25 years has given me a lot of data to support this point. And once you begin to view your resolution (and your behavior) in this way, it becomes harder to stop the negative cycle. And much harder to move forward with enacting your resolution.

A resolution is defined as “a firm decision to do or not to do something”, while intention is defined as “a thing intended; an aim or plan”. An intention is a means of clearly stating your goal while maintaining a compassionate (and likely more realistic) stance towards yourself. Let’s face it, doing something 100% of the time is hard. And for those of you who are perfectionists, anything less than 100% equals failure – and also means you’re way more likely to not even try.

So, what if this year, you decide to set an intention for yourself, using the kindness and compassion you freely give to everyone else? What if this year, you set an intention for how you want to feel, and how you want to treat yourself? What if, this year, you use the power of the Super Moon to enhance your commitment to being your #ownbestfriend?

For example, you might say “I intend to treat my body in a loving and caring way, by going to the gym”. Your focus is on how you’d like to act towards yourself, and the gym is one way of meeting that intention. It’s also a reminder that if you’re not moving your body, or going to the gym, you have an opportunity to assess whether or not you are treating your body in a loving and caring manner. And if that happens, it’s a lot easier to say “Oh yeah, that’s right – the reason I wanted to go to the gym is about treating my body well”, and pick up right where you left off (or come up with a different means of meeting your intention).

Of course, you don’t have to make a resolution or set an intention. You might already be living your best life and feeling awesome. If that’s the case – give yourself a huge “Yay for me!” congratulations, and keep on doing what you’re doing.

But if there’s an area of your life that doesn’t feel great, or doesn’t bring you joy, then consider setting an intention. And consider setting this intention as something that reflects your best self, not who or how you don’t want to be. And do this remembering that you are human, and that none of us are perfect. That being human is about trying, falling, and getting back up with new knowledge to try again.

And one more thought for consideration – think about how you define success. In my book, every time you try something, regardless of the outcome, you have succeeded. You’ve succeeded in living your life and that’s what is most important. So instead of thinking “I tried and failed my resolution” – with compassion and love as your #ownbestfriend, say “Good for me – I set an intention, and therefore I’m succeeding at learning and living. I’m awesome!”

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