“This year can’t end soon enough.”
I’ve heard this at least 10 times in the past two weeks. What is it about the closure of a year that makes us feel as if turning a calendar page will erase all of our struggles of the previous year?
For many of us, there is comfort in knowing that on January 1st, we have a proverbial blank canvas. We get to start over. We get to do things differently “this time” around the sun. We curse the year and wish it away, hoping it will take our pain and suffering away with it. We think about everything we will do differently next year with the hope that it will be a better year.
I’ve never liked the phrase, “New Year’s Resolution.” To resolve is to, “settle or find a solution to a problem.” We are not problems. We are perfectly imperfect human beings that are learning and growing constantly.
As the new year approaches, we analyze the past year and beat ourselves up about all of the things we did wrong and every moment that we screwed up. We feel pressure to make our resolutions and announce them to our friends and family so that they may hold us accountable and then when we don’t follow through, we beat ourselves up once again. This all seems counter-productive to me and a sure way to feel worse about ourselves.
So what if this year we all said “screw you” to resolutions (because we are not problems) and instead we set intentions?
An intention is, “a thing intended; an aim or a plan.” Instead of thinking about all of the things we did wrong in 2017, let’s think about all of the things we did right and all of the things that made us feel good, and make a plan to do more of that next year. Instead of resolving to stop doing things, let’s make a plan to do more positive things instead.
I believe that subtle changes in our vocabulary can have profound effects on our happiness. If we can change our resolutions, which tend to have a negative tone, to an intention, with a more positive tone, perhaps we will set ourselves up for more success in 2018.
Here are some examples:
Instead of resolving to lose weight, set an intention to fuel your body with healthy foods in 2018, or to take a walk in the fresh air X times/week (insert any activity here). And then celebrate your victories! Be proud of yourself every time you eat a healthy meal. Remember that feeling so you’ll want to do it again and again. Celebrate the days you get outside for a walk. Be grateful for the opportunity to breathe in fresh air. Figure out what activities you enjoy, and do more of them. Don’t focus on losing the weight, focus on your victories—it is much more enjoyable.
Instead of resolving to stop spending so much time on your phone, set an intention for what you will do instead—you will likely spend less time on your phone by default. “In 2018, I am going to read more books…go for more bike rides…see more movies.”
Instead of resolving to find the love of your life in 2018, set an intention to love yourself more. Focus on all of the things that make you happy and then do more of those things. Focus on self-care. Take care of yourself and love yourself more than you ever have before. You’ll slowly notice that you become more confident and less worried about finding someone to make you happy, and perhaps this is when the love of your life will find you, instead.
By focusing on what we want, rather than what we don’t want, our perspectives can shift. Setting an intention, and then taking action, becomes an exciting path of self-discovery rather than a guilt-trap set up with broken resolutions.
Above all else, setting intentions can help us manifest the life we want. So let’s all stop focusing on what we did wrong in 2017 and all of the things that didn’t go our way, and instead, open our hearts to all of the possibility that exists in 2018!
The late Wayne Dyer said, “Our intention creates our reality.” Go create your reality—no resolutions, only intentions.
Author: Kim Olowa
Image: Allef Vinicius / Unsplash
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Copy editor: Nicole Cameron
Social editor: Lindsey Block
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