NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS OR NEW YEAR’S INTENTIONS? The difference matters.
If making new year’s resolutions has left you frustrated and feeling deflated for not following through, set intentions instead, our brain behaves differently when we set intentions. Learn why and how.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius
Oh, the hopes and dreams for the brand new year, and all of the resolutions.
At about this time, every year, most of us sit in silence with pen and paper in hand, our hearts and heads full of hopes and dreams and write down our new year’s resolutions: lose weight, exercise more, save more, make more money, drink less, speak up more, speak less, stop yelling at the kids, etc.
And halfway through January two-thirds of our resolutions have fallen through the cracks because for one reason or another, we don’t follow through with them. Studies show that nearly 40 percent of us break their resolutions because they have too many other things to do, while 33 percent say they simply aren’t committed enough to the resolutions they set.
And once we break one resolution, it becomes easier to break another and harder to stick to the other ones.
The way I see it the problem about resolutions for most people is mindset: how we approach resolutions and what they mean.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a resolution is “a resolve, a decision to take an action”. From this perspective, we make resolutions to resolve – problems, issues, something that is wrong or broken.
Because the resolution is usually personal, about us, our resolutions are to fix what’s wrong with or in us. Let’s be honest, it is hard to succeed when our goal comes from a place of negativity, of fixing what is wrong or broken in us.
So, what to do instead?
“Intention is the starting point of every dream.” – DEEPAK CHOPRA
BEGIN WITH INTENTION INSTEAD
According to the dictionary, an intention is “a purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s action or conduct”.
Looking from this perspective, our intentions are still about us but they come from a place of purpose, which is kinder and more positive. When we set intentions, we are usually looking at what we want to cultivate. It comes from a place of positivity and mission. It changes our mindset.
When we start from positivity our chances to be more successful are better because positivity feeds more positivity. A positive mind will look for evidence to fulfill the desire and it will find it. Then a positive cycle starts: positive thinking (intention), evidence found, action taken, happy hormones released, more positive thinking, more action taken, more happy hormones, etc.
It is easier and more motivating to stick to following through with an intention to create and grow, then it is to fix something that is broken in us.
Am I right?
The difference is very subtle from a semantics perspective but very impactful from a mindset perspective. An intention is more forgiving and less judgemental; it honors effort and process; it takes into account how we want to feel and cultivate. A resolution, on the other hand, comes with a built-in succeed-or-fail dynamic that is only looking for results: if you achieved it you succeeded, otherwise, you failed. It seems as if resolutions are setting us for failure from the get go.
An intention looks into what we want to cultivate; it honors effort and process, and it stems from how we want to feel.
HOW TO SET INTENTIONS, SUCCESSFULLY
We can set intentions daily, weekly, monthly, annually, for each new project, whenever and for whatever reason you may see fit. The process is the same.
When you are ready to set your intentions:
* Choose to be present – do not multitask.
* Take a few deep breaths and connect with yourself.
* Write your thoughts on a paper – just thinking does not really do it.
Then ask yourself:
* How do I want to feel? (this is the most important question you will ask yourself)
* What do I want, or What do I want to achieve?
* Why do I want this?
* How will I know when I achieve this? (what will I feel, do, hear, be)
* What resources do I need to achieve this?
* What resources do I already have?
* What steps do I need to take?
* What is my first step?
When setting intentions we focus on how we want to feel. This feeling is grounding and our north-star for no matter what happens, no matter what challenges are thrown our way, no matter how far we detour, we can always find our way by going back to how we want to feel. This also helps make any adjustments along the way. As things change, our feelings may change, and actions will follow.
“Intentions” offer grace and purpose. We instinctively understand that not one day is like the other; that we may face challenges and setbacks but we know that there will always be a tomorrow, and what I did not get to today, I can get to tomorrow, or the next week, or even the next month because my intention honors the process.
As you set your intentions, be patient and kind to yourself. Be kind to others, as well. Always show up and give your best, whatever your best is that day. Not one day is like the other. This is a new year, an opportunity to start something new, to improve on something already started, or to just keep doing what you’ve been doing, but with intention.
Happy new year! May 2021 be filled with love, laughter, peace, movement, rest, and memories. Cheers!
To facilitate your intentions setting (of course!) I created this simple yet SUPER-EFFICIENT INTENTIONS SETTING PDF. It’s free. Enjoy!
Focusing on what matters most, let’s improve our communication and transform our interactions one conversation at a time.
With love and gratitude,
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