Many people have asked me about New Year's resolutions over the past week and my answer is the same as in years past: “I no longer make resolutions.” I have found resolutions to be less than helpful for me, sometimes even a source of disappointment or frustration. While they feel important when I make them I seem to rather quickly get busy with other things and the resolutions fall by the wayside. It is my own doing of course but after awhile I decided to no longer make resolutions. In my conversations with clients and friends it seems that my experience is pretty common. But it has left me curious about the mystique of resolutions and I have softened wondered whether there was a better way to approach change for a new year. In my experimenting I came up with something that so far has been quite useful.
Rather than making resolutions this year I decided to set an intention instead. My rationale was that an intention feels different than a resolution. While a resolution is something that I say I am going to do (or not do) an intention feels more like a way of being. For example, I could resolve to eat at least three home-cooked meals a week during the coming year, believing that if do I will save money and be healthier. Certainly saving money and being healthier are two worthy goals and many might say that the resolution to achieve them is perfectly reasonable and maybe even motivating. And I would agree. But for me such a resolve also feels a bit too boxed-in. If I manage to get off track and miss having three meals a week at home I have failed and would find it quite easy to simply give up. I’ve done in the past; I would likely do it again.
Reflecting on resolutions versus intentions this past week I realized that there is a fundamental difference that for me is a game changer. Resolutions, in my way of thinking, focus on the how of achieving a goal. Intentions, on the other hand, are more oriented to the why. Intentions focus on the goal itself. Surely everyone who sets a resolution has a goal in mind but the resolution itself sets out the path to achieving it. If that path is unrealistic or flawed, or if things change and the path no longer fits a few weeks or months down the road, then the resolution might well be relegated to the pile of failed-resolutions-past and if anything I may decide to never make a resolution again!
Intentions are different. An intention sets out the goal and allows the Universe to discern the best path. If the path changes course simply continue going with it. There is no box but simply a clear intention to reach a certain point and the recognition that the path could take many shapes and forms as it unfolds. As Law of Attraction teaches: Is not our work to figure out how to get someplace; all we must do is put out the desire and be open to the manifestation. Let the Universe determine the best path, and follow it in faith.
So my intention for 2017? To be passionate about everything I do. The past week has challenged me to either find a way to be passionate about some or to let it go. Those are the only two options if I am going to live from a place of passion. I’ve learned much already in a short week and I will share about that here in the next Integrative Mental Health and Wellness blog entry.
For now I invite you to consider setting an intention of your own for the new year underway. It’s not too late! What might your intention be? If you have already set a resolution how might you experiment with turning it into an intention instead? Let us know your thoughts and experiences as this amazing year unfolds!
With Blessings and Gratitude,
from Santa Fe, New Mexico