Living with intention instead of resolution.
How is it going with your New Year’s resolutions? Did you know that 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside by mid-February?
Change is hard, and resolving to make changes for the new year, and, in this case, new decade, is admirable, especially if you are in that 20 percent who are able to stick to your resolve. However, if you are a part of that 80 percent of New Year’s resolution “dropouts,” instead of feeling bad about it and beating yourself up for your lack of stick-to-it-ness, consider forgetting about your resolutions and look at setting some intentions for your life instead.
Rules are meant to be broken. Resolutions are basically self-imposed rules. I will do this, I won’t do that, i.e., “I won’t smoke,” or “I will lose 10 pounds,” ad infinitum. When we make a resolution, what we are actually saying is, I want to/will “fix” this about me. In setting resolutions for yourself, you are creating a negative assumption that something about you or your life is not right—something is broken and needs to be fixed—usually pronto. And, you are projecting yourself into the future.
Setting an intention for your life is different. In essence, it’s a positive affirmation of how you both want to be and actually are both internally and in the world. Your intention can then be used as a litmus test for any and all decisions you make, whether it’s a major life change decision such as a big move or simply ordering food at a restaurant.
What do I mean by intention? When I looked up the definition online, not only does it mean to “aim” for something, it also means to heal a wound.
To aim. I picture archer pose and holding that arrow as if it were projecting from my heart out into the infinite.
To heal. For me, that is the work of being human. So the word is both wholistic and powerful. How does that relate to you?
Think of it like this. Setting an intention for your life is creating a personal mantra for the here and now. Not the past, not the future—but today. It embraces all that you are and says this is who I am and what I care about. It’s not worried about the 10 pounds or the bad habits, the parts of you that you think are broken and need repair.
For instance, I have an intention for my life. It is to “live in divinity.” When I am making a decision, I can use this as the litmus test for just about anything. Any time I have a decision to make, I can ask myself which choice better aligns with my intention. If it does, then great, and if it doesn’t, I still might do it but with an awareness, a conscious choice.
This intention is my personal motto and my war call. It is my primary motivator at times and also my permission to “not go there” if something doesn’t serve. It’s completely nonrestrictive. It is my highest possibility and speaks not only to where I want my path to go but also where I am right now. It honors all the work I have done to get here and also creates sustainable energy for me moving forward. Most important, it is present tense. It’s not something that I want to happen in the future. It embraces me as I am right now.
I like to think of my intention as a prayer for my life—a direct link to my intuitive knowing that I can call on at any time to help me navigate.v
Although I’ve never talked to him about it specifically, I know my partner’s intention: “Every moment Zen.” He moves in it; it is both his compass and his shield, and it’s an honor to be a witness to his flow. He practices it not only on his meditation cushion but in everything he does—work, clients, chores, and relationships.
You see how these two examples of intentions are life-affirming and sustainable? Healing. Positive. Present. Relevant in every moment.
What about you? What is your intention for your life? If you don’t know, maybe it’s time to really hone in on one now. It’s a new year and a new decade. Why not start with a personal positive affirmation rather than trying to “fix” yourself or things you don’t like about yourself?
The truth is you that are perfect just the way you are and exactly where you should be in this mystery we call life. You only need to recognize this and honor it in such a way that your energy flows. Setting an intention is a good way to start.
Maybe reading this, you intuitively know what your intention is for you.
If not, try the writing prompt/journey work below and see what emerges.
Picture yourself on a long journey. You are walking on a footpath, and it is very windy. You can only see a short distance ahead. You are allowed to bring only yourself on this path and one message to keep you going when the wind is blowing or the path gets steep and icy or you are parched with thirst in the desert sun. This message should also apply when you are traipsing through the meadow and the wildflowers are in full bloom and the hummingbirds are dancing, and also when the moon is full and it feels like the wolves are howling.
Do any words come? Picture yourself speaking to the wildlife, the birds, the ancient trees as you walk along. If they were to ask you what you want here, now, for you, what would it be? What vibration would you want to share in this context? How do you want to experience yourself in relation to this natural world? Feel into your heart.
Write for 30 minutes. Once you have finished this exercise, read through it and see what comes through. If your intention is still hiding, spend time in nature and meditation and let it come through naturally without force. The last thing we want is to “resolve” to make an intention, so please be playful and know that it will come.
For all you “new-year-resolution dropouts,” take heart if they’ve gone by the wayside. Relax. Resolutions are restrictive rules, rigid and reactive to something. Setting an intention is life-affirming and nonrestrictive, flowing and nonreactive. What is your intention for you?
Once you have your intention, you can then set a life-affirming agenda by prioritizing choices that support your intention. I encourage you to play with this. Have fun with it and, most of all trust, yourself and this process.
“This and only this can be the new year’s resolution: I resolve never to make any resolutions because all resolutions are restrictions for the future. All resolutions are imprisonments. You decide today for tomorrow? You have destroyed tomorrow. Allow the tomorrow to have its own being. Let it come in its own way! Let it bring its own gifts.” ~ Osho