Presently at the gyms I work for and, I presume, around the country (even world), things are pretty dead. People are gearing up for the holidays by shopping, wrapping, baking, partying, eating and drinking, and laughing (a lot, I hope). Many of those who fell off the wagon with their New Year’s resolutions are pep-talking themselves in preparation to try again in 2014. Many who succeeded in their resolutions this year are also figuring out what they want to do in the next.
I love the fact that people want to change. I always hope it is a habit that will lead to healthier behaviors rather than determination to try another quick fix. There are no quick fixes for healthier bodies, minds and spirits. (Advertisements lie: diets are fads and only work for some, quick weight loss pictures are often of women who just had babies, and exercise regimens might be too intense for a beginner, potentially leading to burnout, injury, and (worst of all) frustration. They want your money.) There is, however, constant diligence and the resolve to see it through to the end goal.
I like to look at resolutions in a different way. To resolve is a mental process; it is to think of something that you would like to accomplish and also think good to do it. Sometimes when we resolve, we are strong in that resolution. (Other times, the resolution is a fleeting thing.) There’s feeling backing a strong resolution, and willpower, and that leads to intention.
Intention is powerful. Intention promises action, more often sustained action than not. Perhaps you’ve gone to a yoga class where the instructor has left it open for you to establish an intention for that practice. Just like New Year’s resolutions, they can be anything. For example:
- I am cultivating a more patient character
- I am building strength and finding a grounded stance in an unstable world
- I am wealthy in more ways than financial success
- I am blessed because [fill in the blank]
- I am happier than yesterday
- I am on a journey to reach, and maintain, a healthy weight through proper diet and exercise
- Every day is a new day; I am ready to face this one with a smile and open arms
- I am grateful for [fill in the blank]
- I am eating mindfully
Resolutions are always spoken in future tense: I will [blank]. So often, they can be said in any way, most often in a negative light. Intentions are positive, in the present tense, preferably in the active voice: I am…, I [verb]…. They are statements of you doing the thing you want to do right now, this moment. This distinguishes them from resolutions because you are trying to do that thing, whatever it is, at the very moment you think of it; and if you keep that intention in the forefront of your thoughts, or merely come back to it throughout the day, it becomes easier to practice.
So I encourage you to set an intention, or series of intentions, for this coming year.
What if you want to develop healthier diet and exercise habits (or insert any outcome of your choice here)? You make a road map to success! Setting goals will help you achieve the outcome you desire. How do you do that? Think S.M.A.R.T.
- Specific: make your goals distinct, easy to write down and remember, but detailed
- Measurable: so you can see results
- Attainable: your goals should be easy to reach, one stepping stone at a time
- Relevant: your goals should help achieve your outcome
- Time-bound: set them within a given amount of time so that you can see how far you’ve come, reassess if necessary, and establish a new outcome with new goals
Goals help back up your intentions, and intentions support you in keeping your goals. It’s a pleasant cycle instead of the vicious ones we so often fall into when we don’t see the results we want on the scale, on the table, or anywhere else in our lives. As a bonus, intentions help rewire our brains because they make us stop and rethink about the negative things we so often say to and about ourselves. They are positive statements said in the present moment.
Give it a try! Write one ore more down. Your brain might get a really good workout in coming up with positive statements, and your mood will definitely improve!
So what are my intentions and goals for 2014? I’m turning 30 this coming year and feel that it’s time to try a few new things, return to some old habits that are better for me, and continue growing in my relationships, personal and professional endeavors, personal gifts and strengths, and faith. I also want to work on my weaknesses, habits that lead to negative mood and thought, and better utilize and repurpose the things I already have (aka, stewardship).
- I am building healthier habits as an example to my growing child
- I encourage love, joy, peace, and health (and a little dancing) in my family, friends and students
- I am branching out beyond my comfort zone
- I embrace change, that which I create and which I cannot control
- I am deepening my faith
- I am patient
- I am loving
- I am kind
- I am helpful
- I am respectful
- I have self-control
- I am happy
My overall goals:
- To return to a gluten-free diet
- To cut out most processed foods and sugars (limiting my sugar use to honey, coconut palm sugar, and dark 70%+ chocolate in baked goods)–I understand that I cannot get rid of boxed foods all together
- To make food at home 95% of the time, and make good eating-out choices
- To make my own skincare products
- To train for, and perhaps run, at half marathon
- To finish my 200-hour yoga certification; perhaps also to start on my 500-hour RYT
- To establish a sustainable workout regimen that won’t take either the husband or the Wee One
- To become more debt-free
- To establish myself in the book publishing industry
- To reestablish my reading habits, and to read to my daughter daily
- To reestablish my self-study habits in classics and language
- To laugh more
- To worry less
It looks like a lot. It is a lot. Will I fail? You betcha, but I’m not going in with a negative mindset, I promise. I embrace the challenge (an intention) but know I’m only human!
The wonderful thing about intentions is that you cannot break them. You simply try again, stop and remember more often. One step in the direction of a goal, a goal reached, is a step in the right direction.