New Year’s Resolutions & The Power of Intention
On the surface, the idea of “New Year, new beginnings,” seems positive enough. Turning a fresh page holds so much promise. In blankness infinite possibilities are born. When the holidays end and the coming year approaches, a corner turns. As the clock strikes midnight, champagne corks rocket through the sky like shooting stars... In this same dreamy spirit, New Year's resolutions are born. It’s an ancient custom. According to the History Channel, approximately 4000 years ago, the Babylonians originated the tradition. Although, unlike modern promises to one’s self, the Babylonians vowed to the Gods to repay outstanding debts and return borrowed objects.
Framed in positive energy, today’s New Year brings you heightened consciousness, and the desire to lead a more fulfilling life. The downside is, your bad habits don’t magically fall away. So resolutions rarely stick. And when they don't, hopes are dashed. Ultimately, what began as joyful, quickly morphs into a source of disappointment. Not because you don't want resolutions to happen, it’s more of a case of not enough time and commitment being assigned to each want. But it doesn't have to be that way. This year can truly be different. How’s that possible? January 1st is not your only day of awareness. With careful planning, resolutions can serve as a springboard for change, and set the tone for the year ahead. It all begins with intention.
Nebulous wishes that fade into the clouds aren't true resolutions. A resolution is a firm decision to do something. So flesh it out. Give each one the chance to fully manifest. Start with clarity. Keep your list short. Five goals, maximum. Even better if it's your top three. And instead of quickly jotting them all down, allow yourself time to meditate on what you want to materialize in the coming year. Ask yourself, “What would make me happy?” Close your eyes… see what surfaces. Then, as different ideas come to you, visualize the outcome of each one. Create as much detail as possible. Some ideas will be easier to imagine than others. However, if you can't see something happening, maybe you don’t truly want it. So think about releasing that one, and move onto the next. And when an idea seems natural to visualize, see where it takes you. Breathe into this future reality... Feel what it would be like if it happened. How would your life look? What might change? Write down the details, no matter how small. Only select ideas that you can readily imagine taking to the next level.
It could be said that intention is the backbone of desire. Instead of mindlessly floating through life, a well placed intention makes you the shaper of your own destiny. So approach your list from a pragmatic perspective. For each resolution, continue the meditation... But this time, for each resolution, ponder, “What would I need to do to make it happen?” As you envision each action, write it down.
Marry each item on your list with an appropriate intention or mindset. Ask yourself: what would I need to believe to make this come true? For instance, if you want to forge a new career path, perhaps your intention might be to mingle in your chosen field a certain amount of times each week. Your intention could be to start showing up regularly and expand your personal network. Maybe you want to find a romantic partner, and realize you need to involve yourself in social situations where you will be surrounded by different faces. So instead of sticking to your usual circle, go it alone, and brave unknown settings. Your intention could be opening up to intimacy by allowing yourself to show vulnerability.
A Thoughtful Approach
Don’t forget to offer yourself encouragement so you’ll be motivated to continue. Part of why resolutions can be daunting is that they read like an end result. And determining how to get to that end isn't always clear. It involves thoughtful planning. What distinguishes a dream from a goal is a course of action attached to a want. For instance, if you want to fly to Paris to embark on a photography project, unless you create space in your life for the trip, and clear your schedule, it won't materialize. However, if you research flights, and find a way to take time off work, then what seemed like a dream becomes grounded in reality. Ultimately, what will take you to the end of each want, is often a very small step moving in the appropriate direction, followed by another, and another.
Let resolutions become part of your daily practice. Experience gratitude. Appreciate your many talents and gifts. And remind yourself that you are working toward inner fulfillment.
Another reason many resolutions don't materialize, is because they are abandoned prematurely. So instead of giving up, view each to-do with positive energy and also as a realistic goal. There's no doubt, forming new habits is challenging; use the power of intention to lead you through each one, and enjoy each step along the path. Allow the New Year to serve as a call to mindfulness, and resolutions a reminder to honor your hopes and dreams.