Resolution or Intention?
“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden
At this time of the new year, we encounter the idea of creating resolutions - actions that we determine we will either do, or stop doing, that we think will propel us to a version of ourselves where we'll be happier, smarter, healthier, richer, or - you can fill in the blank for yourself.
And yet, the reality is that most of us abandon our resolutions before the end of January. I was having a conversation about this the other day, and someone offered the visual of the old Peanuts cartoon, where Lucy holds the football up for Charlie Brown to kick, and every time she pulls it away, and he falls flat on his keester, and every time he comes back, thinking that this time, she won't pull it away. And of course she does. And so each January, we come back to resolutions that may be very well worn - and that we'll very possibly abandon before the end of the month.
I decided a number of years ago that my resolution would be not to make resolutions. This means I can't abandon my resolution, but if I decide to change nothing, then nothing will change. This is great, if I don't want anything to change. Not so great if there are circumstances in my life that I would like to improve.
And so I've been exploring the idea of setting an intention instead of setting a resolution. Here's how I see the difference.
Resolution - You set a simple intention that you think is in your best interest - e.g., I need to lose weight, so I will stop eating chocolate, drinking lattes, or eating sweets. These may be great resolutions. And there may come a day (maybe before the end of January), where you fall off the wagon, and the resolution is broken. At which point, what do you do? Renew your resolution, climb back on the wagon, or shrug and say "it's too hard, I'll wait until next year"?
Intention - You find some quiet time with yourself, and ask yourself "what do I really want?" Better health? More prosperity? Richer relationships? Then still looking within, you set an intention to bring forth this reality. Perhaps your intention is to become healthier. Maybe you are carrying more weight than you would like. So your intention might be, "My intention is to become the weight that is perfect for me, for optimal health."
How to manifest this, to create this reality? You can choose to go for longer walks; eat less chocolate; start swimming lessons; start a yoga practise or practise more often. The sky is the limit. The possibilities for bringing this intention to fruition are seemingly endless, and you haven't limited your choices simply to cutting out chocolate (eating less is another option here).
A resolution is a small way of looking at the big picture. It's focusing on one thing, and assuming that if that thing changes, your life will improve. And changing that one thing may in fact improve your quality of life. Or it may be that one thing is not going to take you where you ultimately want to be. And unless you get quiet and spend some time with yourself, how will you know where you truly want to be?
An intention, on the other hand, means that you are looking more deeply into what you want to bring into your life - better health, a better financial situation, better relationships - and then offers you the opportunities to understand the choices you are making that don't allow this reality to come into being.
Now, there are many things in life we don't control. If we are born with only one leg, we will never have two. But an intention allows us to "co-create" with the situations that Life offers us. Intention allows us to decide how we will use the leg we have to stand on.
Intention gives us power. It allows us to see where we are sabotaging ourselves. It allows us to see where we can change - and where we don't want, or are not ready to change right now. It is a call to action, to hold ourselves accountable, and to forgive ourselves when we feel we haven't come up to scratch. Intention allows us to fall off the wagon. And get back on. Again, and again. Through this process of falling off and getting back on, we are transformed, and our reality is transformed.
Intention over resolution, every year.
May health, prosperity and happiness be yours this year.
Donna offers a holistic perspective on the relationship and healing of physical and emotional pain.