The end result should never, ever be about you feeling worse about setting a goal to improve your life

IzzyJi's end of year message in her Yoga off the Mat series.

Well, it’s that time of year again, when even during covid, we see an increase in commercials for: gym memberships, weight loss companies, cook-your-own-healthy-meal deliveries, etc. Companies bank on the fact that people are currently thinking about making a change for the new year. If you are like me, you may be beating yourself up for not sticking with last year’s resolution. You may be hoping to “do better” in 2021. 

Have you made your New Year’s Resolution yet? Or are you planning on setting an intention/group of intentions? In yoga/meditation classes we are often asked to set our intention. Is there really a difference between resolutions and intentions? This has often been confusing to me. What do they even mean?

The definition of resolution is: 

1) the firm decision to do or not do something. 2) the action of solving a problem. 3) the ability of a device to show an image clearly and with a lot of detail. 

 

The definition of intention is: 

1) a thing intended. An aim or a plan. 2) the healing process of a wound. 

 

When I think of a resolution, I think very cut and dry, very precise, very rigid. When I think of an intention, I think in a broader spectrum. I think -- a little more wiggle room.

 

Side-by-side example #1: 

Resolution: In 2021, I will give up meat cold turkey and become a vegan.

Intention: In 2021, I will listen to the needs of my body, by nourishing myself with high-quality, non-processed foods, and transition towards possibly becoming vegan.

 

Side-by-side example #2:

Resolution: I will workout at the gym every day!

Intention: Every day, I will commit to moving my body in some way.

 

Is one way “right” and the other “wrong”? Absolutely not. Some people prefer the firmness of a resolution. It should be a clear challenge, and it sometimes helpful to set it for a specific time period. 

I used to make resolutions. Now I set intentions. My reason? I give myself a really, really hard time if I don’t “live up to” my expectations, whether or not they are within my control. I’m not alone. Resolution Guilt is a real thing! I once read an article by therapist Kathleen Dwyer-Blair who talked about how the second week into the new year, her clients were already having anxiety and depression for not meeting their goals or sticking with what they had set out to do. Most resolutions are not set within realistic parameters, or don’t have that clear image with a lot of detail, like the photo resolution. “I will exercise every single day.” “I will stop smoking.” “I will save more money.” HOW??

I’ve determined that even resolutions need intention. Notice the second definition of intention: the healing process of a wound. An intention is a process. Working towards a goal should be too! If you are making a resolution, have in mind your end goal. Think of your why. Why do you want this to happen? What outcome do you want? (Intention)! Maybe give yourself a timeline. How long do you want to deprive yourself of what you are cutting out? How long before you want to reach that goal? How many days, weeks or months are you planning to be consistent? 

Remember, the end result should never, ever be about you feeling worse about setting a goal to improve your life because you couldn’t meet your goal.  

Using the “formula” I mentioned above, for 2021 I have set a few short-term goals. Within those goals, I am resolving to check in with myself EVERY DAY to set daily intentions that will help me reach those goals. My intentions may be different each day, but the end goal will be the same. Planning for the new year is hopefully a time of excitement and -- HOPE! 

Lastly, try not to be so hard on yourself. Every year has 365 days, each one with 24 hours in which you can ALWAYS START AGAIN! Each and every moment is a new moment. One of my favorite musicals is the musical RENT. Probably the most famous song from the show is “Seasons of Love”. As we leave 2020, which has certainly been one of the most challenging years for so many people, these lyrics hint at what is really most important: 

 

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes

Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes

How do you measure? Measure a year?

In daylights,

In sunsets,

In midnights,

In cups of coffee,

In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife

In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes

How do you measure a year in a life?

How about love?

Measure in love...

Seasons of love…

 

It has been my immense honor to hold space for so many amazing souls these past 525,600 minutes of 2020. I cannot wait to see what the next 525,600 minutes bring. I hope it will be full of fulfilled goals, dreams, resolutions and intentions. I hope we will be adding face-to-face gatherings with loved ones. I am looking forward to hugging again! 

Remember to be kind, be patient, and be good, both to others and to yourself. At the end of the day, resolutions and intentions are all about caring for yourself! Wishing you and yours a Joyous and Happy New Year in 2021! 

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