Making New Year’s Intentions, Not Resolutions

photo-1-1024x768The New Year…it’s that quintessential time to reflect on the past, look towards the future, and probe deep inside with a lens of self-inquiry, introspection and honesty. It’s the season to make resolutions for all the things we want to change, do better, let go of, or fix about ourselves so we can achieve a healthier state of mind, body and soul. There is only one problem with New Year’s resolutions…they usually never work!

According to Statistic Brain, 45% of people make resolutions but only 8% of people are successful in keeping them. Why is it so hard to stick to resolves that are so beneficial? It’s because people can’t make a drastic change overnight. It’s common to wake up January 1 with the determination to make it to the gym at least 5 days a week, cut out your extra 2 cups of coffee, limit alcohol to only the weekend, call your mother more often, and of course curb your spending habits. People don’t normally stick to their surefire goals because it’s simply not natural to shift habits that quickly. It takes time, patience, practice and the retraining of your brain to actually create new neural connections that lead to lasting change. This does not happen magically as the clock strikes midnight, while you are drinking champagne, kissing the person next to you as confetti falls from above.

However, New Year’s resolutions really do have a purpose and place in your life. You can and should change all the things about yourself in order to live optimally and authentically to become your best self. But you don’t need a specific date on the calendar to start making those changes. You need awareness to notice what isn’t working for you and the intention to make it better.

I hate the word “goal.” I actually get really annoyed when my husband asks me what my goals are. I tell him that I don’t have goals because it implies that if I don’t meet them, then I haven’t succeeded and clearly I’ve failed. I tell him that instead of setting goals, I set intentions.

Having an intention keeps me present and grounded in my moment-to-moment actions. And because I have a strong mindfulness practice, I constantly am inviting inquiry to my inner state, being aware of what is arising in my present moment experience and deciding with intention and skill how to proceed forward. Having intentions, rather than goals or resolutions, keeps me in the here and now rather than in the future. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know I have control over this very moment, inextricably keeping me connected to my actions that support my intentions. I also have the faith to know that what is meant to be will be, and if I don’t reach a particular “goal” it’s because my process is about the journey not the destination and that my path will lead me to where I’m supposed to be.

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