A Mindful Guide to New Year’s (Not Resolutions) Intentions :)
As we seek personal transformation in the year ahead, I am offering you this mindful approach to New Year’s Intentions:
1. Consider Your Intentions
The most common resolutions are to lose weight, spend less money, and get organized. Those are all valuable and healthy practices. But ask yourself why are they your intentions? Do you want to feel better about your body? Know that you won’t need to worry about money for retirement? Stop wasting time looking for all your things in the morning? Honoring the personal meaning behind an intention helps us keep our resolve.
2. Focus on Process, Not Results
Resolutions like “lose weight” and “get organized” are completely focused on a result, with no identification of the journey for how to get there.
Instead of focusing on “losing 10 pounds,” try focusing on going for walks or eating more healthy choices — you will probably end up losing some weight in the process. And you’ll probably enjoy the journey a lot more.
The focus of our resolution should be the process.
3. Change Your Habit Loop
Self-transformation begins with self-awareness. First turn your attention to the habits that you would like to change, and examine what sustains those habits. If you want to spend less money, take some time observing how and when and why you spend money. Take a careful look at your habits that are currently supporting the behaviors you want to change in the upcoming year. Once you break a habit into its components, you can find the little tweaks to your routine that can support transformation.
4. Be Kind to Yourself
No matter what intentions we set for ourselves, there will be days when we don’t live up to our own expectations. A fundamental lesson we learn through practicing mindfulness is that we are constantly beginning again... each day, each breath. We sit down to meditate, and we experience a brief moment of awareness. Then our mind starts chattering...and then with a deep breath, we can refocus.
When the mind wanders, we gently bring our attention back to the breath, without judging or berating ourselves. The moment we notice our mind has wandered is the moment of insight...noticing the action of the mind is the practice itself.
The same goes for intentions/resolutions. When we are going off path, we can gently and non-judgmentally bring our awareness back to our intention. That’s really the purpose of setting resolutions...bringing a kind awareness to our behavior, recognizing when we’ve wandered, and beginning again. And again…
5. Consider Resolution Alternatives
If the pressure of New Year’s Intentions/Resolutions is too much, consider alternative ways to set your intentions for the upcoming year:
Make a Vision Board: You can find lots of online instructions for making a vision board. A vision board compiles images that represent what you want for yourself in the upcoming year. It’s a great way to have a visual reminder of your intentions (I have mine hanging in my office). The images of heart-shaped fruits, dancing yogis, and glowing candles gently remind me to eat healthy food, move my body, and make time for stillness.
Choose a Word of the Year: Many people have embraced the trend of choosing a word for the year...like breathe, trust, dance, joy...that captures the feelings, attitudes, and behaviors they desire in the year ahead. This word can guide your choices and actions...instead of setting firm expectations for yourself, you can ask if a particular behavior aligns with your word and your intentions.
Ultimately, New Year’s Resolutions are about growth and improvement. They are about bringing health, joy and ease into our lives. With mindfulness we can bring awareness to our habits and hold ourselves with compassion and kindness as we seek meaningful transformation.