As the end of the year draws near, many feel an urge to make some big changes. While I could argue that change can happen in any moment, I can understand why people feel a palpable push as a new year begins. Before you get too excited, I think there are a few things to think about as you embark on this new journey.
Are you ready for change?
This question is very important and will determine where you should put your focus. Many people will answer this question beginning with the phrase I should. For example, “I should lose some weight.” While all is not lost, I would urge you to focus on education and building awareness around change rather than actually losing weight. Start to learn more about the benefits in general and specifically to you. Begin paying attention to how you feel, the times that are most trying to you, your barriers to changing etc. I want you to really become aware of your choices, emotions, and thoughts around the subject of weight loss.
Why Resolutions Don’t Work
We live in a world that is telling us what to do and how to do it. This is very disempowering, leaving us to look outside ourselves for the answers and also leaves us vulnerable to the whim of the collective consciousness. This extrinsic and outcome focused way of being removes us from the present moment experience. It can leave us feeling like we are not enough, so we create an idea of what ‘enoughness’ looks like and we use that as our measurement for success. That is what a resolution is. It is a declarative statement about a definite outcome by which we measure our worth. It is born from a place of discomfort and lack and often doesn’t prompt us to do the soul level work necessary for our success.
Setting Your Intention (Spiritual Level)
Your intention is the calibration of your spiritual compass. Think of intention as the ultimate ideal you want to exemplify in your life. For example, gratefulness or peace. If you have a tendency to overeat, maybe it is temperance that you desire. It is your spiritual and energetic agreement that is in alignment with what you most value. It should be the big picture, soul-level desire that can be summed up in a single word or a simple phrase. Intentions are not detail driven because they don’t have to be. It is how we raise our vibration to meet that of our desire. This is the ‘what’ of the equation.
What are your goals? (Mental & Emotional Level)
We often hear about SMART goals – specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and timely. These are outcome driven desires. I would suggest instead to create goals that are experience or learning based. What is the experience you want to have? A good way to figure out your goals is to ask yourself, what does my intention have to offer me? Then design goals that help you to learn, grow and discover who you are in alignment with your spiritual north. For example, if your intention is temperance, then ask yourself, why do I want the experience of temperance? In this, you may realize that your goal is to learn to trust yourself and have the feeling of being in balance. Goals are supposed to be more detail driven than your intention, but they should be based on intrinsic values. These are the ‘Why’ of the equation.
Some research is starting to look at the importance of creating experience related goals. In one study, scientists looked at flossing. They were trying to see how goals would affect our ability to continue on with the habit. They found that people were initially interested in flossing when they heard that it can stave off tooth decay, but that fact alone did not prompt continued flossing . The study found that people who focused on the experience of flossing and the feeling of cleanliness carried the habit on longer than those who were only motivated by prevention.
What are the Action steps? (Physical Level)
This is when you get down to the real details. This is the “How” of the equation. These actions steps should be small acts of personal power that allow the expression of your intention. Every time we follow through on an action step, we build personal power. This power allows us to transmute and transcend behaviors and circumstances. Start with thinking about three of the easiest ways you can change your behavior in alignment with your goals and intentions. So if your intention is temperance and your goal is the experience of self-trust, then an easy action to take is to go for a walk after dinner.
Need Help Determining Your Intention?
Many are very detail oriented and it is easy for them to come up with actions steps but more difficult to formulate that into an intention. If that is you, just take a broad look at the actions and see what they have in common. What is the common bond that they all share? For example, maybe eating few calories, getting exercise and meditation are your actions steps. A common thread might be self-care or perhaps the experience you are really after is self-love. So you would use either of those for your intention.
Why This Matters?
The short answer is because life happens. It is easier to stick to something when life is predictable and static, but how often does that occur? Our lives are dynamic and while there is much habit and predictability to our actions, the situations differ. That is why we need to set our intention, to navigate our lives when things take us off course. When we focus on the outcomes and the actions rather than the experience, it is so much easier to fall into the all or none mentality. It also makes it harder to adapt to situations when life sends you interruptions. So continuing the previous example, what happens when you have a work dinner and you won’t be able to go for a walk? If you keep an eye on your intention of temperance then you can still have the experience of self-trust when you order the salad or healthy bowl of soup instead of the burger and fries. In every situation, when your actions steps aren’t available to you, ask yourself how can you still be in alignment with your intention. This keeps you on course.
So when you wake up in the morning, hold your intention. Breathe it in and through your body. Raise your vibration to it, knowing that the details don’t matter. Then as you mindfully move through your day, create experiences that are congruent with that intention even if you aren’t able to carry our your preferred action steps. Remember, you can’t cheat on a lifestyle change. This is big picture, soul level stuff. If your goals are learning focused over outcome focused when life happens and when things break down, you can observe the situation. Say, “Now that was interesting, what can I learn from this?” Then find ways to experience your intention in another way. Taking the time to write out and create your intention for 2017 will help you to cultivate mindfulness, purpose and lead to positive, enduring changes no matter what life throws at you.