Whenever there is a juncture in time we have the opportunity for a new beginning. Many of us naturally reflect on what was and what is to come. The New Year is one such juncture point. And then there is other events such as a marriage, divorce, birth of a child, solstices, equinoxes or the move to a new home. In other words, there are many juncture points but New Year’s is the most common when it comes to resolutions.
Over 50% of Americans make resolutions to mark the new year but most of them fail. At first, we are all going ho about losing weight, eating healthier, quitting smoking, saving more money, doing more exercise, spending more time reading or whatever else we resolve to do. Two weeks into later we are already struggling and four weeks later we can’t even remember what we were so resolved about. Only 9% of Americans say they feel successful in implementing their new year’s resolution (says Science Brain).
There could be a number of reasons why resolutions don’t come to pass.
- Your resolution is not connected to your deeper desires and your bigger why.
- You don’t have clearly defined goals to put your resolution into action.
- You fail to create the habits needed to implement it.
Thinking back to my pre yogi, pre reflective, pre-health-guru like days, which was basically in my teens and early 20s, I remember engaging in the play of resolution setting. You know, it was the thing to ask at a New Year’s party. “So, what’s your resolution for the year?”.
It seemed like… well…. a good idea but I never truly believed that my resolutions would come to pass. It was more wishful thinking. I pretty quickly gave up the game and, in my direct German fashion, told anyone who asked what I thought. New Year’s resolutions are complete bollocks.
Now, that in my most awake way of living (I am so full of myself !!!) I reflected some more on the efficacy of New Year’s resolutions and have found that if I transform and refine resolutions into intentions, goals and habits, they actually have some merit. After all I want to create the life I want to live and that triad is incredibly helpful to make that happen.
Let me tell you why and how.
Let’s dig in.
The difference between resolutions, intentions and goals?
The way I define resolutions, intentions and goals is like this:
Resolutions are along the lines of wishful thinking and hoping for something to pass than a full fledged commitment. Although the word resolution is defined as “a firm decision to do or not to do something” for most people making a decision is not enough to have it come to fruition.
Resolutions originate in the mind rather than the heart and thus lack the connection to a deeper inner desire as a driving force. Instead, the success of resolutions is based on willpower. Willpower, however, is a muscle and like any other muscle it tires over time. For some people this muscle may tire within a couple of days, for others it is a matter of months but willpower will eventually wane.
From an elemental perspective, I associate resolutions with the ether element. Light and ungrounded. There is no fire behind resolutions to make them a reality. In addition, resolutions lack the specificity of a goal, and the heart, desire and compassion of an intention.
Intentions are far more heart based than resolutions. An intention arises from reflection, contemplation and a quiet inner space. An intention arises from the soul level. It is a bubbling up from within.
Intentions are watery and feeling based in that they describe a state of feeling we want to achieve. Intentions can be a bit vague but do connect us to the feeling of who we want to become next. Intentions are about tapping into a greater vision for your life.
An intention reflects our deep inner desire, connects us to our Big Why and gives our life an overall direction. For example your intention may be:
- I am living a healthy and fulfilled life and gracefully achieve my goals.
- I am making enough money so my family and I can live in comfort and harmony.
- Or I am fit and trim in my body so I can play and have fun with my grandchildren.
- Or I am growing my business exponentially with ease and grace.
- I eat healthy so I can be vibrant, alive and free in my body as I age.
Intentions have a gentleness about them and honor the process of getting to a desired place. Intentions are your vision expressed in words. They also give you the big why you want to achieve something.
I like this quote by Patanjali, a great yogic sage. For me it reflects the power of connecting to our deeper inner desire.
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” From The Mahābhāṣya by Patanjali
Intentions alone can be powerful in that they steer you in the right direction. Of all the endless directions your life could take, an intention narrows it down to your desired and specific path. For many years, intentions were my driving force. They were my fuel to keep going. And then, over the last year or two, I discovered goals and habits. And I realized I could accelerate and significantly speed up the process of making my dreams come true.
You see, intentions lack the fiery component that makes us take consistent action. For that we need goals.
Goals describe a clear endpoint in the future. Goals are fiery in nature. They are action driven and result oriented. If you have ever worked in corporate America you are probably very familiar with this approach.
Goals are great in that they have tons of fire and mental clarity. But the thing is, they lack heart. Goals only care about the end point, the process is of no interest.
The process of making goals forces you to make a commitment. Once you are at the stage of goal setting things get serious. Are you really sure you want to go through the work of achieving your intention? Are you sure you are committed to making your intention a reality?
Intention setting is feminine, goal setting is masculine.
Intentions make energy expand, goals make energy contract.
I love making intentions. I love dwelling in the watery juiciness of my lovely vision and truth be told they got me quite far on my journey. But now that I want to get to the next level with impacting the world with my gifts, intentions aren’t quite enough. I had to learn to set goals and turn them into habits.
Last fall, I dug my head deeply into learning how to turn intentions into goals. I hated it!!! And yet I knew, I had to learn it if I wanted to realize my vision.
Combining intentions with goals is powerful. Intentions provide the heart to make goals meaningful. Goals provide the fire to put intentions into action and make them a reality.
The triad to make your dreams come true
Now that you know that you need to…
- Turn resolutions into intentions
- And intentions into goals
….there is one other component you need, and that is habits. Goals need to be broken down into bite size pieces, small enough action steps, so you can integrate them into your daily live.
Habits are earthy. They are our daily actions that anchor intentions and goals into reality. Without habits, intentions are wishful thinking and goals are meaningless points in the future.
For example, if your goal is to lose 20 lbs in the next three months, it’s not enough to state that goals, you have to integrate habits into your life to make that happen. You possibly need to exercise more, go to bed early, drink hot water throughout the day, poop regularly, eat more greens and so on. You then need to break these bigger habits down even further, into bite size chunks, until you end up having that habit in your calendar. We will get to this in more detail in part 3.
For now let’s take a big step back to the beginning.
Let’s look at how to set an intention.
Let’s connect to your heartfelt desire. That’s the fun part.
How to set intentions
Intentions are your vision expressed in words or a picture. Intentions are borderless, limitless, non-censored.
In order to arrive at your intention you need a quiet place, a quiet moment. As intentions arise from the depth of your soul, you need to honor your spirit’s communication methods. One of the ways spirit communicates is meditation and silence.
Let’s get practical.
- Step 1. Find a quiet spot somewhere at home or outside. Sit and become quiet. Breathe for some time, 2, 3, 5 minutes, long enough so you feel settled. Simply breathe.
- Step 2. Drop a timeframe into that silence. 3 months, 6 months, 1 year etc.
- Step 3. Into the silence drop the questions:
- Who do I desire to become next?
- Who is the next Me that wants to emerge?
- What makes me come alive?
Keep looking, keep breathing. Yes, it’s a bit esoteric. Welcome to my world. I love it. Don’t overthink. Don’t judge. Don’t censor. Discount nothing. Take note of anything and everything that arises. Do this for 5-10 minutes or until you feel complete.
Then take pen to paper and draw who you want to become next. What has arisen? If words arose write them down. If colors, feelings, visions arose, draw them too. Again, no censoring, let your soul speak without limitations.
From the visionary picture you drew, create 1, 2 or max of 3 sentences reflecting who you want to become next. For example, an intention could be:
- I am growing my business manifold with ease and grace.
- I easily adopt new, life affirming habits so that I can play with my children without pain.
- I will have my own talk show by age 50.
- I feel light and free in my body so that I can gracefully impact the world with my gifts.
- I am fulfilling my financial obligations with ease so I can live in comfort, peace and harmony
Having an intention gives you motivation and inspiration to take action. Having an intention keeps you on track with your BIG WHY.
It’s your inspirational motor on your growth journey.
Now that you have your intention, you need to turn it into goals and habits.
To learn how to set goals read “From Resolution to Reality: part 2” or watch the online workshop.