Four Steps for an Intentional Resolution
Resolutions. For a while, my initial reaction to the idea had been "f*^k 'em". Although, I'd still secretly make an "intention" or two that stayed between me and myself. Intentions are totally different than resolutions anyway.. right?
My current answer is "Yes, and...". Resolutions and intentions are similar. They're both buzzy, they're both supposed to help us on our self-improvement journey, and they're both words we use to detach the part of ourselves we've corralled with familiar habits from the part of ourselves that is capable of achieving what we truly value and want for ourselves. It's funny how tools purposed for self-empowerment are so often double-edged swords.
Here's where they differ, and how I think they can be refurbished to serve you. A resolution is more firm. It is a decision to do or not do a specific thing. An intention, on the other hand, is more like a direction. Setting an intention is like pointing yourself in that direction. So, if intention is the path, each step along the way is a resolution. Neither means much without the other.
Don't be reactionary. The guy who acts like a bull in a bull fight never wins. Also, don't pull the new-agey thing and set intentions you can convince yourself you're achieving no matter what you do or do not do in reality. Hold yourself accountable (in the most kind and loving way possible).
That said, if you're bored with nihilism, maybe it's time to try resolutions again this New Years. Intentional resolutions, that is. This practice didn't come out of nowhere. Practices of self-reflection and renewing vows to oneself to carry on towards a better future have been indispensable cultural traditions for thousands of years. A coincidence that this takes place right after the longest darkest night, a time when people are naturally drawn within, a time when light in the darkness is celebrated (Hanukkah, Diwali, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year…)? Maybe. Personally, it seems like one follows the other.
There is no better time to commit to a plan for personal betterment than when you’ve taken a good look at yourself. Most creative processes take vision to create something complex and beautiful. You don't need Scrooge's ghosts to show you the way though.
STEP 1: SEE YOURSELF
You know better than anyone where you've been, and where you are now. What is important to you? What makes you happy? What really doesn’t? What attributes and resources do you have?
Only once you've established your self-aware foundation, should you think about where you want to move forward to.
STEP 2: SEE WHAT YOU WANT
The point is to consider your whole self, so you might understand where you truly, in your most hearty hearts, want to go. There are a lot of great options out there. What is really for you?
STEP 3: SEE YOUR INTENTION
Visualize a general path. You don't have to know the whole way, just a sort of pixelated overview. The direction you set to get what you want is your intention.
STEP 4: RESOLVE TO TAKE THE FIRST STEP
Finally, hone in on the part of that path that is right in front of you. It is less of a beginning than it is part of a continuum you've always been on. Focus on something you can do right now that truly fits in with the parts of your life you want to keep. Don't overwhelm yourself by choosing something that is realistically 15 steps ahead. Focus on step one.
Make it concrete. That first step is your resolution. Acknowledging both the larger intention and the immediate resolution at once, is what will your New Years promise realistic and effective.
As you go forward, you’ll know more about yourself. You’ll get better at knowing what works for you. What is really important becomes clearer. Trust the cycle and love your process. Be ready to thank yourself for the success. Learn from and let go of what fails you. Either way, no biggie. Have a ball ;).