New Year’s Day–Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever. We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how we did the same old thing last year about this time. However, go in, community. New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions, and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion.
– Mark Twain, Letter to Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, Jan. 1863
Since Mark Twain wrote these words 154 years ago, not much has changed. If you’re like most people, by now you will have ‘cast your reformations to the wind’ too.
It’s so easy to slip back into old (and often unhealthy) patterns. Especially when you are so focused on giving something up in hopes of earning a reward (i.e. giving up sugar to lose weight, giving up smoking for better health, giving up restaurant meals to put some money in the bank).
The only thing that might have changed is the phenomena of New Year’s Resolution guilt. This is a real thing. People feel bad about not being able to live up to the commitments they made. You feel like you’ve let yourself down. Maybe you feel like you’ve let someone else down too.
I’m here today to say Stop It!
It’s Time to Recommit
Instead of feeling guilty about what you haven’t done, let’s create a new plan. It’s time to recommit. But not to your old New Year’s Resolutions. It’s time to recommit to yourself and the happier healthier you that you want to be.
So, how do you make it happen if your New Year’s Resolutions have failed? And every time you swear this is the last time you are going to (fill in your vice here). What you’ve been doing hasn’t been working. So let’s try something new.But there’s more to it than that, and I’m going to share my secret formula with you. Let’s break it down.
I’m going to share my secret formula with you. Let’s break it down. When you want to create change in your life, there’s a 3 simple step process that will help increase your chances of success.
- set intentions, not goals
- reach for what you want instead of pushing away what you don’t want
- recommit every day
Set Intentions, Not Goals
On the surface, the words ‘intention’ and ‘goal’ might seem to be the same. For me, they have different energy and I believe setting an intention is more effective than stating a goal.
- A goal is all about using your mental energy to decide what you are going to carry out, creating a specific plan, and then using your physical and mental energy to make it happen. When you set an intention, you are invoking not just your mental and physical being, but also your spiritual and emotional being too. When your whole self is engaged, you are more likely to stick with it and enjoy the process as well as the outcome.
- A goal is very definitive. The theory is that by focusing on something specific, you can better retain focus, create steps and action them until you’ve achieved success. An intention is more fluid and flexible, allowing you to stay open to opportunities that might deliver results far better than what you imagined possible.
- Striving towards something is the hallmark of goal-setting. It feels like hard work that you must accomplish…often alone. Intentions feel different. You are part of creating your best possible future, working with people and energy that is supporting you in living your best life. It’s more of a balance between masculine and feminine, and not the constant masculine driving energy of achieving a goal.
Set intentions for yourself. What is it that you most want in your life and for yourself at this time?
Reach for What You Want
It’s important to reach for what you want, rather than pushing away what you don’t want. What do I mean by that?
Often, New Year’s Resolutions are about bad habits you want to change. And they are often drastic. You might resolve to give up sugar or stop eating restaurant food. As a result, you focus your awareness on the thing you are giving up…and suddenly that thing is everywhere. You decided to give up sugar and now all you see is commercials for decadent desserts, a new candy bowl pops up in the office, and cravings kick in big time.
Instead, focus on what you do want. You want to have a healthier body. You want to enjoy eating healthy food rather than satisfying out-of-control cravings. You want to have more energy. When you decided to give up sugar, there was a more positive intention you wanted as an outcome. Focus instead on that thing you do want, and then let that focus attract opportunities to experience the new thing instead.
Recommit Every Day
I believe it’s critical to recommit to being who I want to be every single day. I might have really screwed up yesterday. Lost my temper with my kid. Ate junk food I knew wasn’t good for me. Didn’t give my best to the work I do. But today is a new day, and all I can ask of myself is to do my best today.
Look at that list of intentions you made for yourself. Recommit to them each day. Remind yourself what it is that you are intending to accomplish for yourself so you can stay focused on what you envision.
And if you notice you’re consistently missing the mark on one of your intentions, take a look at that intention to make sure it’s really what you want. If it is, what’s getting in the way of making it happen? Once you figure it out, recommit to that helpful new behavior and get yourself back on track.
Bonus Step: Make a Public Declaration
What’s your new intention for yourself? Share it with us in a comment below or send me an email if you’d prefer a more private declaration that still offers you some accountability and support. When you publicly state your intention, it energizes that intention even more!
Photo Credit: Gail Rau | FreeImages.com