Intention Setting vs Resolutions

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Happy New Year everyone!

So here we are at the start of 2019. I personally love the new year, the turning of the wheel, the reminder of the passing of time, the chance to stop and reflect as a community – not merely on our own, to take stock and to make plans…

Probably like many of you, New Year has traditionally been the time to set “resolutions” – usually self improvement goals like exercising more or giving up chocolate that invariably waned as the year passed. Now I have noticed amongst my friends and community we talk about “intentions.” This is more than a swapping of words in a world growing in consciousness. Intentions are different from resolutions in a very important way: Intentions are what we really want to do, while resolutions are what feel we “should” do. Intentions come from within, from our deepest selves. Resolutions may be an internal voice, but it is that judgemental one that implies you won’t be good enough until… you won’t be happy until… The voice that says you are never Enough. The voice of “should” and “shouldn’t”. The voice I have been working very hard to replace with a voice of kindness and compassion to myself.

Resolutions are based on a “future” mind set – they pull us out of the here and now into a place of wanting, of striving. Intentions keep us present, and come from the heart. They are based on acceptance, on being present. Intentions help us grow in mindfulness.

And so my intentions this year centre on aligning my outer behaviours with my inner values. Of integrating how I live and why I live into a beautiful, simple Wholeness. In addition, my health has not been great in recent years, so a focus on physical and emotional strength and vitality at the core of my objectives right now. This includes rest, and self care. It is allowing myself space and time to simply be, to reconnect with my deepest Self and allow my TRUE inner voice to guide me.

Dianna Raab on Psychology Today suggests some intentions include:

  • practice mindfulness
  • achieve inner peace
  • make spiritual connections
  • initiate detoxification
  • celebrate life with joy
  • relax more often
  • increase self-awareness
  • be love to yourself and others

She also includes these items, which I think are more “habits” that can be a manifestation of an intention, but which are similar to some activities I am also focusing on so shall repeat here:

  • stretch daily
  • work out regularly
  • learn a new skill
  • practice abdominal breathing

The intention for me is the starting point. The next step is to plan actions into my day that align with my intention. For me this is no small feat in itself! If it was so simple to make life changes, I would have done it ages ago! For you it may be easy to remember to be joyful, or to pay attention to the small details of your life… But I needed to sit down and look at how I spend my time in a day and a week. I drew up pie charts and weekly plans. I worked out how much time I really want to spend sleeping, working, exercising, as family time, spending time on me. Sleep and family time take up about a third each of my average day. The rest needs to be divided carefully. The idea is to find ways to simplify and enhance my living, not to add more things and feel overwhelmed.

I have small children, so each year is a change of schedule as they move through playgroups and kinder and into school, as their independence slowly blossoms and their complete reliance on a grown-up evolves. This year I will have a few more hours in the week to “achieve goals” – fit in extra activities. But the awareness of the rapid maturing of my little babies has (again!) made me take stock and want to slow down, to spend time with them and really appreciate their childhood. My actions must not only not take me away from them, but enhance my life and wellbeing so we all enjoy the richness and beauty of life together.

So, with all that in mind, I have set some new “habits” into my life:

  • Go to bed at a set time each evening
  • Read each day (before sleep)
  • Walk each day in nature (if it’s too rainy I will use my ellipse machine and find 5 minutes in the garden)
  • Practice abdominal breathing
  • Meditate

These are not “resolutions” of things I think I “should” do. These are things that make me feel happier, more grounded, with more energy. These are my foundation: walk, breathe, read, meditate, sleep. The only thing here that really needs time is the walking, which I can do most days either after school/kinder drop off or with my youngest boy. The breathing and meditating I will do as breaks through-out my work times. The breathing especially I also do when walking, and have introduced the boys so we do it together before bed time too.

There is much more I plan to do, and other goals that will help me achieve my greater sense of living a whole and integrated life, but this is the starting point. Getting the basic habits right.

A tool that I am using this year to help me achieve these goals is this planner by St Belford. I love that it puts wellness, with a spiritual/personal growth slant at its heart. I just wish it came in green or a natural colour!

Image by Samuel Zeller

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