New Year’s resolution or intention?

Are you the New Year’s resolution type?  The dictionary defines resolution as, “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” For me, the “firm” part of that definition implies perfection.  This could be because perfectionism has dominated my self talk for my whole life.  I’m kind of a recovering perfectionist.

I like to look at New Year’s resolutions in terms of intentions.  The dictionary defines intention as, “an aim or plan.”  To me, setting an intention (an aim or a plan) seems like a softer, gentler way to guide myself on a new or possibly challenging path.  It’s like making a deal with myself that I’m going in a certain direction, all the while acknowledging that things could go different from my plan.  For me, intending to go in a certain direction, rather than having to, is less constricting therefore less stressful in general.

But I’m not saying that resolutions are a bad thing. For me, they bring out the perfectionist.  For you t could be that a resolution is a stronger statement.  It could make you more likely to stick to your goal.

As a mindfulness practitioner, it’s important to notice how your New Year’s statement feels to you.

Here’s a short mindfulness practice that may help:

  • Write down your New Year’s goal in a resolution terms and in intention terms.  For example, “my New Year’s resolution is to go for a walk three times a week”. Alternatively, “for this New Year I will set the intention to walk three times a week.”.
  • Begin your practice with a few minutes of mindful breathing.
  • After your body has settled a little, state and repeat the resolution to yourself.  Just sit with that statement for 5 minutes or so, sensing how you feel.
  • Return your awareness to your breath briefly.
  • Now state to yourself the intention and sit with that for a bit.
  • Again return to your breath briefly and end the practice.

Did you notice a difference in how each of them landed in your system?  Did one feel better or worse?  And in what way?

Which ever way this exercise goes, you may have some information that can support you in sticking with your New Year’s goal.  Remember that awareness and compassion are how mindful practitioners try to meet all things.  So as we embark on lofty goals this New Year, let’s make sure to meet them that way. Good luck!