I have to say that I personally dislike making new year resolutions. They’re usually made when you’re fired up for change (and perhaps slightly drunk!) but then get easily dismissed when the reality of life sets in. The number of times I’ve heard people say that they’re going to lose weight or get fit in the new year and then for some reason slip up and end up feeling guilt or shame. Then because they’re feeling badly about themselves, they do the reverse of what they had initially resolved to do. I’m sure there are people who do carry out their resolutions but this process doesn’t work for everyone.
However I do think the new year is a great time to clear the decks and make a new start. It feels like we have a clean slate from which we can create what we really want. So instead of resolutions I like to set intentions. There may not seem like much of a difference to you but to me intentions feel like they come from the heart and feel loving and kind to oneself whereas resolutions feel more head based and forceful somehow. I feel that when we give ourselves the space and time to reach our goals, we give ourselves more creativity and flexibility to make it happen. Perhaps for some people this may not feel firm or clear enough but I think we’re hard enough on ourselves as it is and that intentions are an opportunity to be easy on oneself but to set a direction for where you want to go without having to know right now the exact steps that you will take. It becomes a journey of discovery which is often more meaningful than the end result.
I also like to set intentions that are internally focused rather than about material things so things like being more kind and loving to oneself versus having the latest gadget or car. The reason for this is that I believe in general that we have been taught to find things outside of ourselves to make us happy or content. However the reality is that the way to true happiness is identifying our emotional needs and fulfilling it within. So if we go back to the example of the latest gadget, perhaps for one person this actually makes them feel better about themselves to have the latest mobile phone. But this feeling will be momentary because eventually the phone will become outdated and they will be looking out for something else to maintain the positive feeling they had on purchasing the phone.
If you read my last blog you would have seen the exercise that I like to do at year end which is to review the year that has passed (see both what has worked and not worked) and then set an intention for the new year. Once you have this intention, it’s great to have it in a prominent place where you can keep it in the uppermost of your mind and to remind you when you get caught up with the ‘busyness’ of life. However it’s worth spending a bit more time on this and identifying what could be some of the pitfalls of the intention, that is, what could be some unexpected difficulty that could take you off course. Once you have a clear picture of these (there could be quite a few!) then think about what actions you could take to either make sure these don’t happen or to get yourself back on track if they do.
Let’s say for example that your intention is to be more kind and loving to yourself. I believe the universe likes to challenge us to help us learn and grow. So it’s likely that you’re going to come up against someone at work or family or friend who makes you reconsider this. It may not be their intention to make you feel bad but something about the situation will probably have that impact on you. The idea is then to think about what you can do when that situation arises. For example, you could come up with the plan to acknowledge and accept the emotions coming up and then take yourself out for a walk to give yourself the space to consider what has happened and whether what the other person has said is actually true or valid. In the end, everyone will have an opinion about a situation but this doesn’t mean it’s the truth. We need to be the ones that lift ourselves up when we’re feeling down and be able to approve of ourselves. It’s nice to have love and support around you of course, but it’s a gift when you can do this for yourself. Just remember that it’s a learning journey and to be easy on yourself along the way. Let’s see what 2018 brings!