Are you planning on making any resolutions for the coming year?
Many of us make New Year’s resolutions – and then fail. A whopping 88% of well-meaning New Year’s revelers will “fail” in achieving the resolutions they set out as a goal at 12:01 AM, January 1st.
Though I have almost always met with success in my new year’s resolutions, I think resolutions come from a somewhat limited, and limiting, perspective. So instead of resolutions his year, I’ve chosen to make lists of Dedications, Intentions and WHY NOTs.
But always with any commitment I make, New Year’s or otherwise, I include one cautionary caveat, which I encourage you to adopt as well; remember that while any marker – New Year’s day, the new moon, an anniversary, or your birthday – can serve as an activator for a commitment, every breath is a chance for a new choice.
When you “fall short” of a commitment, offer yourself compassion instead of self-denigration. Gratitude for a lesson learned instead of self-blame.
It helps me to think of my dedications, intentions, and wishes (my WHY NOT list) as practices. For me, practice means that though I’m not perfect at it (that’s why it’s called practice, right?), I can grow more committed to my practice every day, or even every moment.
“I can grow more committed to my practice every moment.” I find this a great phrase, prayer, or mantra to remember as needed.
In the list structure I’ve designed, each list category has a descending, or higher to lower, level of commitment. 1: Dedications; 2: Intentions; 3; The “WHY NOT?” List.
Here’s a quick, easy guide on how to build these lists, and a few examples per category.
List One; Dedications:
The Mirriam-Webster Dictionary offers four definitions for the word dedication.
1 : an act or rite of dedicating to a divine being or to a sacred use, 2 : a devoting or setting aside for a particular purpose, 3 : a name and often a message prefixed to a literary, musical, or artistic production in tribute to a person or cause, 4 : self-sacrificing devotion <her dedication to the cause>, 5 : a ceremony to mark the official completion or opening of something…
I think all of these definitions have relevance here. Dedications are like vows that I’m making with God, my family, my community, the flow of life in general. And my life in specific. Of the three lists described here, this one carries the highest level of commitment.
In building this list think of the things you truly are committed to enacting in your everyday life. Consider the ways you want your life to shift, the relationships you will reconfigure, the people you are responsible for or to.
Then set pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as case may be), and get writing. You can write out as many or as few as feels right. If your list gets too long, you can number each item by level of importance or resonance, and cut the ones that rank lowest.
Here are a few examples:
* To recognize that every area of my practice is an act of dedication to the liberation of all sentient beings pervading time and space.
* To recognize that mindfully and selflessly being of service to my husband, my children, my family, my friends, and my community is an inherent part of my spiritual practice, and to treat it as such. And, to remember that this is also a practice that engenders the attitudes of enlightenment that will lead eventually to the liberation of all beings.
* To continue following the path that my practices open for me.
* To build a circle of similarly minded friends in my community, and to actively commit to this as a practice of faith, desire, and love.
* To continue trusting that God has a plan for me that is greater than I can see, and that everyday I’m fulfilling that plan by living my life in accordance with my True Will, and with as much consciousness as I am capable of achieving.
List Two; Intentions
Mirriam-Webster has six definitions of the word intention. Of the six, I feel that the following five are all interestingly relevant in this case.
1 : a determination to act in a certain way : resolve, 2 : import, significance, 3 a : what one intends to do or bring about b : the object for which a prayer, mass, or pious act is offered, 4 : a process or manner of healing of incised wounds, 5 : concept; especially : a concept considered as the product of attention directed to an object of knowledge…
And here’s the etymology, thanks to etymonline.com;
intend c.1300, “direct one’s attention to,” from O.Fr. intendre “to direct one’s attention,” from L. intenderein- “toward” + tendere “to stretch” (see tenet). Sense of “have as a plan” (1390) was present in Latin. A Gmc. word for this was ettle, from O.N. ætla “to think, conjecture, propose,” from P.Gmc. *ahta “consideration, attention” (cf. O.E. eaht, Ger. acht). …
Intentions are thoughts, experiences and occurrences that you are casting forward into your future. Intentions may not take as much day-to-day attention, or may not be as interactive with others in your life. Whatever they are, for me they often have a lot to do with feeling-states and the outcomes of them.
Some examples of Intentions list items:
* To allow perfect abundance to enter into and flow in my life, and to have less attachment about how that flow occurs. To trust that God knows best how to deliver this abundance.
* To follow the attraction and direction of my heart with grace, trust, and joy.
* To invest in and develop forgiveness for myself and the harm that occurred in my past.
* More and more, to allow the support I so deeply desire.
* To take what I have learned of trust, honesty, and openness from my husband and begin generalizing it to the rest of the world.
List 3; The “WHY NOT?” List:
I got the idea for a WHY NOT list from Self Magazine actually. I thought it sounded like a great idea – to give myself the chance to dream big, and think outside the daily details of family, plans, life, family, service, love, did I mention family?
WHY NOT take a few minutes and get very self-focused?If you could do anything, what would it be? And remember, anything you truly desire, you most likely can pull off.
In my life I have found so much inspiration from people who have come up against challenges and beat the odds; a man with a prosthetic leg finishing a marathon in just over five hours. My dad being diagnosed with cancer and, instead of succumbing, actually choosing to live for the first time in his life. My sister, an amazing woman summited Mount Everest in her mid-40s.
This resilience and willingness to strive relies so much on a WHY NOT? attitude.
Even if you don’t complete all of them, just the willingness to reach for your WHY NOTs guarantees that you’ll have a great time in the coming year, and beyond.
Some of my WHY NOTs:
* Work toward my best comprehensive health in my life.
* Explore new religions. (Catholicism, traditional Tantra, deeper into Tibetan Buddhism and Tantric teachings and ritual.)
* Explore excavation of darkness and shadow, in the light.
* Go dancing.
* Take a dance class.
* Take a voice class
And, my final commitment; to view these lists at least once every three months, and mark off the things that actually have a completion point, and put stars next to the things I’m doing well with that are paths without destinations.
An often suggested tip that will help you keep to your commitments is the creation of an accountability system. This may be a one-on-one buddy system, a group, or even a public declaration with scheduled check in days. Share your Dedications, Intentions, and WHAT IFs with people who care, people who believe in you, people who will support you in your desired growth. And you can offer the same support back.
If you feel brave, you can allow this page to be part of YOUR accountability system. Feel free to post some (or all) of your Dedications, Intentions, and WHAT IFs in the comments section below.
With wishes of joy, abundance, and greatest gratitude, a very heartfelt prayer for a New Year that is beyond your sweetest dreams, from my heart to yours.