Happy third week of January 2014 everyone!
This is a time of year when lots of people are thinking of goals, resolutions and making changes. It is a positive thing to think about turning over a “new leaf” with the New Year and doing something positive for yourself; whether that be ending an old negative habit, incorporating a new positive habit or working towards some larger life goal. The difficult thing about this time of the year is that making changes has been built-up and hyped and maybe we even feel we “should” make changes. As a result we often make resolutions to change a bunch of things and think we have to start them all and make huge progress right away. I recently read an article that summed up this idea, suggesting that if we resolve to eat no cookies for the entire month of January we will be eating a bag of cookies by two pm. Okay that might be an exaggeration however that is often what ends up happening. The things we resolve to do are either so big or so extreme that we set ourselves up for inevitable failure, and we don’t make an allowance for mistakes or set backs in our resolutions. When we hit that inevitable set back or mistake we feel as though we have “failed.” When we feel we have failed we often label our efforts or worse ourselves as “failures” which ends up being self defeating causing us to abandon our goals all together. Well that doesn’t work!
What I want to support and encourage is thinking about intentions, rather than resolutions. With intentions you can think about them sort of like aiming for the North Star, your course might vary from day to day however you are headed in your “intended” direction. This is like making allowances for “so-so” days or fall backs with out giving those fall backs the power to derail you from your intention. Imagine if you were target practicing with a bow and arrow, if you “resolve” to hit the target the first time and you don’t, how might you feel about yourself? However if your intention is to eventually hit the target, knowing some of your shots won’t make it, how then might you feel about yourself? Which mindset is going to be more motivating and helpful in working towards your goals?
Ultimately this is about accepting ourselves and starting from where we are with compassion and realistic goals. I encourage you to give this some thought and see if there is one resolution you might be willing to translate into an intention.
By the way, it was my intention to get this post out earlier in January, grin. So maybe I didn’t hit the bull’s-eye, however I think I at least made it onto the target.