My New Year's Intentions: Why I'm Ditching Resolutions.
Always a curious one, I enjoy inspiration shared from other creatives. Such was the way I stumbled upon Chriselle Lim’s post on her “2018 Intentions,” an obvious ode to the then upcoming new year.
Come again? No resolutions for the New Year? Like Valentine’s Day, or tomato juice, there tend to be two camps in stark opposition when it comes to starting resolutions every January: you either buy into the whole resolutions movement...or you don’t. You love the idea of self-improvement and reflection, or you think they’re a load of crap and a waste of time.
So Chriselle piqued my interest as she urged, in all caps no less, “DITCH THE RESOLUTIONS.” Consider them ditched. Now what? I’m glad you asked…
She broke down the difference between setting resolutions and intentions:
“The biggest difference between Resolutions and Intentions,” she explains, “is that Resolutions are mainly focused on ‘DOING,’ whereas Intentions are focused on ‘BEING.’ Resolutions can come and go, but when you set the right Intention it becomes a part of you and a lifestyle.”
Wow...home run. This, naturally, got me thinking - about self-improvement efforts, about our motives when we make these resolutions, about why they don’t often work out in the longterm. Year after year, it’s a seemingly an irremediable pattern, doomed to always repeat. Why? What are we - the well-meaning population intent on bettering ourselves as we see fit - missing?
In my own words, it’s because of how unkind we are to ourselves. Why haven’t I lost these ten pounds? I’m still not a morning person, and I probably never will be. I’ll never find love at this age. I hold myself back so much because I’m afraid, because I’m pathetic, so what’s the point of even taking that trip, even if I always have wanted to go? And on and on the negativity carousel goes. In a way, resolutions are ruthless, unforgiving, even taunting, reminders whenever we don’t get it right.
But intentions look further ahead, while still being present-focused. They are action-based without being performance-obsessed. Rather than setting yourself up for swift criticism when you don’t reach a goal you’ve set for yourself, instead, unlock a fresh mindset that will carry you to a better tomorrow - and a better version of you.
Intentions are meant to be fluid. Didn’t make it to the gym four times this week? Maybe you needed to spend a morning putting energy into cooking a wholesome breakfast instead (abs are made in the kitchen, ya heard…). Chickened out on another date? What if you needed to schedule a therapy session instead, addressing some inner turmoil that’s stopping you from enjoying your love life?
Setting goals are fantastic - after all, where would the world be if no one pursued growth or challenges, if everyone settled for being “enough”? But leaving enough leeway to mold our goals into something that’s both challenging and realistic? That’s what’s paramount. And isn’t that what we all want? To pursue bettering ourselves, in our own way, but in such a way that’s feasible and won’t induce chronic hair-tearing and tears and - dare I say it - giving up?
So before you tentatively step into 2019 with another handful of well-intended resolutions, only to beat yourself up at the first signs of failure, consider tweaking your method. Direct your aim toward how you are being, not what you are doing. Then push yourself that way...and then cut yourself some slack.
Cover pic via Picjumbo