Try setting intentions rather than resolutions for the new year
Can you believe it’s already December? The holidays this year will no doubt look different for almost everyone, but there’s one tradition that’ll stick: New Year’s resolutions.
Marking the new year by setting goals for better behavior began centuries ago in ancient Babylon. The ancient Romans also made promises to their Gods each year, and ancient Christians took time to reflect on past mistakes and aspirations for future behavior.
In modern times, resolutions often revolve around losing weight, career milestones, or finances. Often, our best laid plans fall to the wayside when the holidays are over and we have to get back to our day-to-day lives and responsibilities.
It’s easy to beat yourself up if you don’t follow through on a resolution. But before you do, consider whether you were too rigid in your goals. One of the best ways to reframe your thoughts around New Year’s resolutions is to stop using the term resolution. It’s rigid, unforgiving, and suggests that something you’re doing is wrong. Intention, on the other hand, means aim or purpose. It speaks to the core of who we are as people and lays a framework for how we want to live.
As you set your goals for 2021, try your hand at using intentions. And to help, Be has compiled a step-by-step guide below.
Generate a list
The first step for setting intentions is generating a list of traits you admire—in yourself and others. Perhaps it’s the patience your boss has when dealing with annoying red tape. Or maybe it’s your kid’s curiosity about the world. Turn on a calming piece of music and take out a piece of paper. Free write terms and traits as they come to you. Here’s a list of examples to jumpstart your thinking.
- Work ethic
If you’re having trouble coming up with traits, turn this exercise into a meditation. Take deep breaths and clear your mind. Note memories and feelings that arise. What are they trying to tell you about the traits you admire? Now, consider a moment in your life that makes you proud. Think about a challenge you overcame, or a time when you did something you regret. What do these moments have in common?
You can also meditate on your ideal life. How do you feel? What are your relationships like? How are your spiritual and work lives?
Rank your traits
Now that you have a list of traits, rank them in order of importance. This can be daunting—after all, how do you choose whether honesty or happiness is more important?—but listen to your intuition. Intentions work best when you have five to seven, so the point of ranking your traits is to help narrow in on the ones that mean the most to your core identity.
Take a trait from your list and connect it to an experience in your life or a vision for the future. Using that inspiration, create an intention statement. These statements generally begin with “my intention is.” Here are a few examples:
- Maybe you lost your patience at work and sent an email you regret. Patience is the trait you’d like to cultivate. So, your intention statement might be, “My intention is to be more patient with myself and others through all aspects of my life.”
- Perhaps creativity is core to who you are. In your ideal life, you’d be free to follow your creative spirit, so your intention statement might be, “My intention is to pursue career opportunities and personal relationships that feed my creative nature.”
- If you want to commit yourself to embracing your spiritual side, perhaps spiritual was one of the traits on your list and your intention might be, “My intention is to connect with my spirituality, find opportunities to nurture my wiser self, and connect with like-minded individuals.”
Take your time
Setting intentions takes time. You may not have a full list of intentions after a day. Take a week or so to sit with your ideas about the traits that matter the most and don’t be afraid to edit your intentions throughout the new year. Intentions will likely change over time as your experiences shift.
Once you have a list of intentions for 2021 and beyond, set reminders. You could print your list out and tape it to the front door, or you could set calendar reminders in your phone once a week to review your list. Another idea is journaling about a different intention once a week or month. Create reminders that work for you.
Setting intentions is a powerful way to connect with the core of who you are and use the power of manifestation and mindfulness to live a more balanced life.
Another interesting tool is astrology. Whether you are a skeptic or a believer, astrology provides a framework through which to consider your traits and values. Join Justin Elzie, a Be Studio teacher and astrologer, for a class on mindfulness and astrology on January 2. You’ll learn how to use astrology in your meditation practice and intention setting. Learn more about the event here.