There’s always talk of resolutions and self-improvement this time of year. I’ve got my own list in the making. But I made the mistake of looking at the list I made last year and the 50% accomplishment rate I achieved was partially a fluke (I purged every room of my house but only because we had our floors redone). Do we get kind of unrealistic at the start of a new year? Do we forget that we have to bring our same ‘ole selves into 2014? The same old resistances, habits, fears, and inner voices will be with us in 2014 even if we intend to make big changes in our lives.
In a couple of weeks I will be speaking to a group who invited me to speak on the topic, “A Fresh Start”. It has made me wonder what a fresh start really looks like when we bring our old selves into the fresh start. You can write down a weight loss goal, but you will still be as addicted to Doritos tomorrow as you are today. You can write down that you’re going to improve your relationship with your spouse, but tomorrow you will be as selfish and defensive as you are today. We often have no idea how to get to our goals because we have no patience for the day-to-day process required for any change to ever happen in our lives.
With that in mind, I think it makes sense to think in terms of intentions along with our traditional resolutions to lose weight and exercise more. Merriam-Webster defines intention as “a determination to act in a certain way”. I like that the word, “determination” is in there. After all, what change has really ever taken place in your life without determination? It also allows for the reality that whatever we intend to do will need to be something we are choosing over and over and over again. It isn’t a one-and-done-type of thing. To live according to an intention requires that we return to that intention with determination whenever we drift astray. And we will drift! Our habits and patterns are the same old self that we bring to the picture. A healthy dose of both realism and self-compassion will be necessary for the long-term outcome you seek.
What could be empowering intentions for you in 2014? Some examples:
- I intend to take risks.
- I intend to be prayerful.
- I intend to be mindful.
- I intend to be playful.
- I intend to be a learner.
- I intend to be less passive and more assertive.
- I intend to be less guarded and more authentic.
- I intend to be less defensive and more open.
- I intend to choose health above instant gratification.
Holding an intention can help us keep focus, make tough decisions, or even redirect us when we get off track. Why not choose an intention for the year and let it help you bring your old self into a new place?