The Secret to A Guilt-Free and Purposeful New Year
Starting a new year is always filled with so much hope and promise. I love the idea of a fresh start, but the notion that we need to “repent” for enjoying many of the holiday “extras” hasn’t been appealing to me for many years now.
I think it’s important to remember that even though this is the most popular time of year to re-evaluate our lives, we can give ourselves permission to begin anew any time of the year. Whenever we recognize something in our lives that doesn’t make us feel our best or that no longer serves us, we can decide to do something to change that.
But, once we acknowledge the changes we wish to make, what do we do next? This is when most people start to create resolutions, but I’m going to suggest that intentions be created instead.
How do intentions differ from resolutions?
Dr. Wayne Dyer defines an intention as “a strong purpose or aim, accompanied by a determination to produce a desired result.”
An intention is something you aim to achieve. Intentions have a purpose and are something that you actively work to manifest in your life over time leaving room for “hiccups” and self-reflection along the way.
What I like most about intentions, is that when we establish them, we’re not coming from a place of lack. We know that we’re already “enough” as we are and that’s always a healthy place to begin. This allows us to move forward without having an attachment to the outcome or self-judgment. Intentions are more about the journey and what we learn in the process. Instead of looking to “fix”, we’re intending to fine tune.
A resolution is relatively simple: it either is or is not, it sticks, or it doesn’t.
Resolutions don’t come with much wiggle room. Because of their nature, they often leave us feeling guilty, make us feel lazy (or unfocused, undisciplined, etc.) and lead to a cycle of negative thinking. All this negativity eventually dissolves the resolution and makes us feel worse in the long run. And, unlike intentions, resolutions are generally made from a place of lack and make us feel that we aren’t “good” enough the way we are. They imply that in order to be enough, we must change. This kind of thinking erodes our self-esteem and keeps us from achieving sustainable changes.
I know you may be thinking that setting intentions are too gentle, lenient, and won’t bring about change. I understand why you might believe that. After all, we live in a “no pain, no gain” kind of society! However, I urge you to think about how being hard on yourself and making unrealistic resolutions in the past has served you.
The truth is that in order to usher in healthy, sustainable changes in our lives, we need to begin looking at our patterns and behaviors with self-compassion, kindness, and curiosity.
Doing this allows us to loosen our grip and create space, so we can see opportunities to do things differently. It also helps us to recognize what may be fueling these behaviors in the first place. Once we loosen that grip and do so without judgment (or at least with minimal judgment), opportunities for change begin to present themselves. This is how we can make changes that make us feel good without all the negativity and spiraling lack of self-worth. This is why setting intentions instead of resolutions is a good idea.
Patience, flexibility, and self-compassion need to be your co-pilots during the change process because that is what will help to minimize stress and anxiety which enables our brains to function optimally. When we are operating from this relaxed and open space, we are bound to have more positive outcomes.
Now that you know the difference between resolutions and intentions, which intentions will you create in 2019? Remember that change generally happens in phases and not all at once. So, look for small, subtle shifts instead of big, broad strokes.
Cheers to a satisfying and intention filled 2019!