Intentions Over Resolutions

Happy new year AND new decade! There is something auspicious about this new beginning. You may have even made a New Year’s Resolution (or two) with a hopeful promise of what you will start, change, or do over the next 365 days.  You might have even written them in a journal, shared them with a friend or loved one or even posted them on social media. These resolutions can bring a sense of purpose and a promise of happiness… for about 2 weeks, until they dissolve into guilt for eating that cookie, taking advantage of that huge sale, or not cleaning the house before bed.

Research shows that about 80% of us don’t keep our resolutions past January. We also know that it takes about 2 months to change behavioral patterns, yet we sit down on the 31st of each December to make a bulleted list that we swear, this year, will stick. When we do this, we set ourselves up for failure. Here we are, seven days into 2020.  Maybe you’ve already forgotten your New Year’s resolution? Or, maybe you stopped setting them years ago because they’ve never worked?  

As we move into this new decade, we invite you to shift from making resolutions to creating intentions.  Pause for a moment and ask yourself, “How do I want to be in the world and show up every day?”  Don’t judge your response; just write it down, and make it yours.

The Latin root for Intention means “To turn one’s attention.”  Turn your attention to what’s lurking under your resolutions and how the practice of mindfulness can help us along the way.

Think about habits you have labeled as “bad” or tried to change. Habits that, annoying as they are on their own, are even more so when you think about the copious amount of time spent trying to change them, and all the negative feelings you may have about not being able to. Too often, we try to use will power to change behaviors by cutting them off completely, saying “today is the day I stop eating chocolate.” However, our brain’s behavioral inclinations are very strong; and when we try to resist cravings cold-turkey, we often lose control and fall back into our original pattern of behavior, only now with a new layer of self-judgment. 

Mindfulness is simply the art of being present to what is. Think about hard and fast resolutions you’ve set in the past. This year, rather than saying “I’m going to lose 15 pounds,” maybe I say “My intention is to be conscious of the food I put in my body, not to keep myself from eating it all together.” Research shows that simply paying mindful attention to cravings and your body’s responses is more useful than trying to resist the craving altogether; and having an intention rather than a set-in-stone goal can help ward off the guilt we too often feel when our outcome isn’t exactly what we wanted it to be. 

Even with a well thought out intention, you can expect to stray. Remember that with the support of a mindfulness practice, you can return to your intention without judgment and better accept the reality of imperfection

Follow us on social media for more mindful tips throughout the year, as you live each day with intention.  From all of us at Center for Resilience, we wish you a happy and healthy 2020!  

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more mindful tips throughout the year, as you live each day with intention.  From all of us at Center for Resilience, we wish you a happy and healthy 2020!