A few months ago, I was listening to The Adult Chair podcast titled The Power of Intentions. In this podcast, Michelle Chalfant described the difference between a resolution and an intention, and immediately I was hooked.
We all know that resolutions don’t work – most of the time. If you are part of that lucky 20% of people who are able to maintain their resolution and make the changes you set out to make on January 1st, congratulations. You are certainly in the minority and I want to talk with you – how the heck do you do it?! But if you’re the other 80%, ??, by February, you have already given up hope.
This year is different for me.
A while back, I set an intention for myself. Instead of depriving myself – as most resolutions do – I decided what I could add to my life that would help me transform. I made a statement about who I was and then decided the characteristics of that type of person.
So what is the difference between a resolution and an intention?
Resolutions vs. Intentions
When we set resolutions, we set an expectation on ourselves to maintain perfection. We expect that we won’t have a single piece of chocolate in the new year, or demand that we maintain a consistent workout schedule for 52 weeks of the year. We don’t allow ourselves the opportunity to develop a new habit – we just expect it to happen overnight, simply because the clock hit midnight on December 31.
By setting an intention, we lay out the foundation of who we are trying to become with this understanding that we aren’t going to be that person in one day. We say to ourselves – this, here, is who I want to become, and here is how I am going to get there. And we are kind to ourselves when we miss our mark because we are human. We cannot be 100% every day. Life is busy, kids get sick, we get injured. Whatever it is – there will be something that distracts us from our goals.
Our resolutions don’t allow us to miss going to the gym. The mentality then becomes, “well, I missed yesterday, what’s one more day?” And before we know it, bathing suit weather is here and we still have those holiday pounds on our belts. Missing the gym for a week because you came down with the flu when you set an intention says, “take care of yourself and get healthy. You can go for a walk when you are feeling better,” and we are kinder to ourselves, knowing that tomorrow is another day and the whole year hasn’t gone to ? just because we missed a few days of our goal.
On Tuesday, I declared my mission statement for myself:
I am a compassionate woman who values integrity and independence. Through self-acceptance and personal growth, I intend to build a positive community complete with loving relationships.To care for myself, I strive to live a healthy lifestyle with a strong focus on fitness.
This declaration will guide me in setting my intentions for the year – for my life. Let’s be honest, I don’t want to just be this person for the year. This mission statement is just my guideline for becoming this person – who I intend to be for the remainder of my life.
From this declaration, I set my intentions:
- Be kind to others.
- Read more.
- Show compassion for those in need.
- Organize my finances.
- Listen always.
- Cultivate patience.
- Be open to new friendships.
- Eat healthily.
- Be gentle with myself.
- Walk often.
- Run more.
- Breathe deeply.
- Write regularly.
- Reconnect with good people.
- Speak truth always.
- Be respectful.
- Foster gratitude.
I don’t need to go to the gym three times a week or exile chocolate from my life for good to be the person I intend to be. I still get to indulge and celebrate life. My intentions are not about absolutes or restrictions. My intentions guide me in my goals to transform my life.
I won’t be every one of these every day. I will have bad days. There will be times when I am angry, impossible to be around, frustrated with the world and, in turn, I will eat my feelings. But my intention is to be a better, healthier human, a loyal friend, and a loving mother and (soon-to-be) wife. And these intentions remind me of that and keep me focused on the person I want to be.
What intentions will you set for yourself this year?
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