It’s the beginning of a new year; a new decade. As 2020 begins, many people will feel gassed up to set new goals and call them resolutions. A friend who is in the gym pretty much every day throughout the year told me the gym is packed for the first month of the year and then by the middle of February the majority of the people disappear again.
I would assume the same probably happens in churches; with college applications; diet programs and any other betterment service. As the excitement wears off and daily life creeps back to normal, there goes the resolve to stick with the program.
According to the dictionary, resolution is defined as: the quality of being determined or resolute to do or not do something.
You can be determined to do something, but it can be short-lived.
True commitment is when you do something long after the enthusiasm has died.
If a real change is to be made, it starts in the mind. It requires a mindset shift.
Instead of making a resolution, try an intention.
What’s the Difference between a Goal and an Intention?
There is nothing wrong with goals. You can have a goal and still set intentions. But, goals are external while intentions focus on the internal self and relationships to yourself and others.
Goals are also focused on future achievements while intentions describe what you are going to do in the present. Intentions are how you are going to live your life regardless of whether you achieve the goal or planned destination.
If your goal is to lose weight and work out more, so you radically restrict calories and get up 5:30 a.m. to work out. It can be unsustainable. And, before long, you are battling your own nature to stick to that goal.
Conversely, your intention can be to be more mindful about what you eat. When you find yourself reaching for the potato chips, you investigate that urge and kindly guide yourself to grab the apple instead. You start making better decisions about what you put in your body. And, you start seeing your food choices as fuel instead of rewards for dealing with stress.
The danger of your goals is if you set them to be strict, if you don’t achieve them, it can send you in a shame spiral. Or, you can use them to confirm your fears about yourself.
Intentions require you to examine your choices and whether they are aligned with your desires. They are small, measurable steps to change your behavior instead of giant leaps to become a person you haven’t been before the day you decided to change.
This past year, I started making intentions for myself. I realized that I was prone to suppressing my emotions and it was ruining my relationships. After I went to the doctor and my blood pressure was at stroke-level, I decided that holding everything in was probably going to kill me.
I did a lot of reading about suppressed emotions and all the experts said that if you can experience the emotion that it will pass faster than you think. It felt scary to me to fully experience my emotions. I thought if I felt my anger that I would explode and if I experienced my sadness that I would just be paralyzed.
But, I listened to them and set the intention that no matter what the emotion was that I would label it, sit with it and examine what was attached to it. I also paid attention to how I had been coping with it in the past. I found I had many many ways to run away, but they usually landed me somewhere I didn’t want to be or with someone I shouldn’t be with.
The first few times I experienced my own anger or sadness, it felt like being swept up in a storm. I would feel it brewing beneath the surface. In the past, I would push it down, but I allowed myself to fully experience every feeling that came up.
I expected it to be 40 days and 40 nights of rain and Noah on an Arc with all the animals. But, it was more like a rainstorm in Florida. It was really scary for like 10 minutes and then the sun was out and it looked like it had never rained.
As time went on, it became less and less time of actually experiencing the emotion and more time figuring out why something made me feel the way it did. I became obsessed with my triggers instead of afraid of the emotion. And, as I peeled back the layers, I became fascinated with how complex I can be. The things that make me cry now vary but some are so sweet and touching that I kind of laugh at myself instead of admonishing myself for being sad.
Now, I can literally be mad for like 2 minutes and then I am fine. I have processed the whole thing and I reset back to my general disposition. Or, if I am really angry, I can give it words instead of feeling resentment.
Everything started with setting an intention to change how I thought about my emotions and approaching them differently.
So, while everyone else is buying the gym membership that they are going to pay for but barely us; think about why you want to do what you want to do. Use that why to set your intention and let the why guide you in your intentions. Most times, we just want to feel better.
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