I never make New Year’s Resolutions. I’m constantly working on self-growth and improvement, so it just seems silly to make a big deal out of the first day of the year. Plus, if I’m ready for change, I’m not going to wait.
However, I do set intentions, even new year intentions. An intention is a guiding principle for how you want to live, be, and show up in the world. Intentions are not to be confused with goals – they aren’t something you attach expectations or evaluations to. Goal setting is a valuable practice that helps you get things done. Goals are essential for completing tasks, whether it is developing a new business skill or cleaning your closest.
While setting goals can motivate you, they can also produce a feeling that what you currently have isn’t enough. Or even who you are… A sense of unease can come over you if your goal-oriented life discounts all that is good in the present moment.
Questions may start haunting you: Am I going to fulfill my goal? Will I be successful or not? Will I be happy once I reach the goal? Should I set another goal to keep the pressure on? Am I a failure if the goal is not reached?
A winning-or-losing mindset can operate in the back of your mind, so if you don’t reach your goal, your victim mind may say: “Why try anyway — I’ll never be a success.”
The controlling judgy you may take over and interfere with other important aspects of your work and/or life. You might accomplish your goals, but the rest of your life might fall apart. In short, over reliance on goal-setting can become a winner-take-all plot that dominates your thoughts. This helps explain why so many New Year’s resolutions are not fulfilled.
Living your intentions, on the other hand, is much different. Being intentional allows you to focus on how you want to be in the moment, independent of whether you are winning or losing.
A few differences I would like for us to focus on:
1. Goals are concerned with the future, intentions are concerned with the present moment.
2. Goals are specific and have a plan. Intentions are more like making a wish. You just intend the outcome and surrender the process to the universe.
3. Goals are external. Intentions are internal – including your relationship with yourself and others.
This is a challenging concept to grasp because so many of us have fear of the unknown and need to feel in control of our lives. But the safety nets we build up around our fears stop us from moving forward. I like intentions because they force us to let go of the control, become more self-aware, and remind us to enjoy the ride.
An intention should be positive and must come from your heart. Think about your desires, passions, and values. Here are some examples:
-I intend to make meditation a more important part of my life
-I intend to fuel myself with nourishing foods
-I intend to move my body daily
Now you try!
I like the idea of writing down my intentions in a journal or somewhere I can refer back to them again and again. Because I’m writing this to you, I will do it.
I hope everyone has beautiful manifestations of intentions in 2020!
~Miriam, MPH, RD, CPT, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor
Studio SWEAT Dietitian