A Guide to Setting Intentions Instead of Resolutions

There is always something about the end of the year, the end of month, a big birthday coming up that makes us think about how we can start fresh. Out with the old, in with the new! A fresh new calendar page! A clean slate! But how quickly our thoughts and new plans can dissolve. How many New Year's resolutions have you set only to not remember what they were a month later? Well, maybe it's time to rethink how we make those resolutions. 

In my earlier post on self-care this winter, I discussed setting intentions instead of resolutions. I'd like to expand on that today. A resolution is a strong determination. A big change. An intention is more of a will or a purpose. They have room to grow, to work with you. Intentions bring you to how you want to feel instead of gaining or eliminating something from your life. In yoga we often set intentions at the beginning of a practice and revisit it at the end. These are often small intentions and new ones don't have to be set all of the time. You can stick with one until it sticks. What if we set small intentions throughout the year, say on the new moon, instead of waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square? What if we held on to that intention until it sticks?

Start slowly and repeat your intention to yourself. 

One thing (of many!) that attracts me to yoga, is the development of habits. By taking the time to do another sun-salutation and repeating an action I am developing a habit without me even knowing that is what I am doing. Before I know it, I have created something healthy my body will miss if I slack off. The reason why so many big resolutions fail is that change rarely happens all at once. It takes time, often baby steps, and repetition to create a new habit. If you resolve in the New Year to "go to the gym everyday" you will be disappointed the first day you miss because you caught a cold or had a hectic day. You will miss more days and get more upset. Then you will stop going all together. A smaller intention made when you wake up such as "I will do some form of self-care today. I will go to the gym afterwork" leaves you some wiggle room.  Rinse and repeat.

Sunrise in L.A. It's a new day!

Sunrise in L.A. It's a new day!

Discover freedom, instead of punishment.

Resolutions usually lead us down a path of feeling worse about ourselves after springing up from feeling bad about ourselves. We usually make the resolutions we make because we're not good enough, or so we think. If you resolve to not over eat, if you resolve to not over spend, if you resolve to NOT you are punishing yourself. Just like going to the gym mentioned before, once you break your statement you are bound to fail. Don't think about what you should be doing, think about how you want to feel when you do it. Sure, you might want to lose some pounds or you might want to get out of debt but you don't have to punish yourself in the process. Change your wording to I WILL.  "I will feel happy when I take care of myself by not buying what I don't need." Slowly but surely create actionable steps to pay off your credit card. You will get there. Be kind to yourself along the way. You are good enough. 

Take small actionable steps to get you there.

Take small actionable steps to get you there.

Be careful what you wish for.

Creating a new habit or reaching a goal is really just a shift in priorities. Think real hard about what your priorities are and why you want what you want. I believe in intentions that are positive and I believe that if you put the thought out into the universe you will get it. It might not be right away or look how you imagined but it will arrive. However, you have to be careful what you wish for. Leave your ego at the door and break down your intention to get to the core of what you desire. Then and only then will what you receive come to you in its truest form. Ask yourself "what more is possible?" and "what do I truly want?". If you answer fancy car and mansion realize what it will take to get it. You may find yourself over-worked and in debt to achieve that goal. Maybe what you truly want is a comfortable home that gives you enough space for you and your family. Maybe, if you break it down even more what you truly want is a safe family that you have time to spend time with. Before I was in a relationship with my husband, I used to ask the universe for a boyfriend. We often put that wish out there- to find a significant other. After receiving what I asked for I always found myself with the wrong guy. It wasn't until I simply asked for "someone that loves me for me, that knows what he wants and wants me" that I found myself with someone that deserved me. True story. It worked because my intention was about how I wanted to feel not a vague object. 

It all boils down to opening yourself up to new possibilities. Look within and think about how you want to feel. Set intentions daily, monthly, or as often as you want and enjoy the process along the way. 

Happy New Year!

xo, Karen

Photo credit: Karen LaPorte