Instead of Resolutions, Try Intentions
A couple teachers of mine have repeatedly spoken on how to make changes in life. It's simple: just make a decision. Once you resolve to do something new, truly, then there is no turning back.
There is a lot of truth to this approach. When we make a decision from a deep place, we are set. It is clear. We chart a new course for ourselves.
This can be a great approach, and works for many people. However, there's an air of practicality that I feel is missing with that way of being. And certainly it is folly to say that's the only way to make changes in your life.
When we make a change to our way of being, we will inevitably face the parts of ourselves which prefer the old way. The parts of ourselves which want to eat poorly, not meditate, not exercise... they have their reasons and are happy keeping things the way they are.
These parts will show themselves when we challenge the way they want to live life, and usually they will put up a fight. These parts prefer keep the status quo of the behavior we wish to change.
The path of making a change often asks us to deal with what has kept us in the old pattern.
So if we want to make a change, I will invite you to consider setting an intention instead of making a resolution.
By setting an intention, we create a long-term goal. We are saying that this is where I want to go. It's a gentle turn of a cruise liner instead of a hard-to-starboard zag.
An intention gives us room to make mistakes. It gives us time to face our inner gremlins as they arise.
A resolution is great, if our gremlins are on board, or if enough of us is able to strong-arm our gremlins into submission as we set a new path.
Many times a prerequisite for this to happen is hitting a proverbial rock bottom. That's when we sober up to the problems that our behavior is causing and say, "I can't do it this way anymore."
Resolutions are strict. They ask you to make a sudden shift, and fully embrace the new behavior starting now. A resolution is something you can fail at. If you do the old behavior, you have broken your resolution.
Intentions come with a softness that provides room for error. Intentions set a long-term goal and say this is where I want to go. I may make missteps on this path, but I am intending to go here. If I keep my eye on the horizon, I will get there. Intentions give us the leeway and freedom to falter on our path.
I will encourage you to establish intentions for the new year instead of resolutions. Try that on. How does that feel?