So I was listening to a podcast yesterday…
(Random side-note: 90% of my sentences begin with that conversation opener. I have a podcast problem, deal with it).
But I digress…the theme of this podcast episode was all about New Year’s resolutions. Groundbreaking stuff, right? It’s not like we just entered 2018 or anything. And here’s another bombshell—more often than not, resolutions don’t even work.
*Cue the collective gasp track.*
Not that it’s a shock to anyone who’s, oh I don’t know, made a resolution at some point, but the excitement and motivation tend to fizzle out after awhile. Once that novelty of goal-setting wears off, most of us find ourselves back at the status quo with a nagging sense of regret or an “ehhh I tried” kind of attitude. We humans are creatures of habit—we resist change, avoid the uncertain, question the unfamiliar.
It’s our struggle. And it’s real.
But now that we’ve established “resolution” carries an undertone of failure, how about a different approach? What if we used another word instead? Like “intention” maybe.
Does a shift in language matter though? Is there some nugget of nuance to extract between the lines? Umm…I think so anyway.
A resolution is expected or obliged.
An intention feels softer, gentler, more mindful somehow.
A resolution has no margin for error.
An intention creates the space to just learn as we go along.
To accept that mistakes happen but only define us if we give permission.
To honor the process of growth and renewal.
To be transformed with a loving touch on the inside, rather than browbeating ourselves into “doing better” on the outside.
One is a performance. The other is a lifestyle. One confines. The other sustains. One is action-oriented. The other is soul-centered.
I picture intention as a creative force. A conscious, dynamic burst of awakening. The genesis of every dream or desire. This might sound too meta for some, but I believe the human experience is rooted in spirituality. And we need to nourish this corner of the triangle (mind, body, spirit) before the wildest, fiercest, bravest, messiest, rawest, truest, fullest expression of ourselves can break through.
So this year, I’m issuing a new challenge to myself—acknowledge the intent behind the resolve. If my goal is to workout more often, for instance (which is an absurd goal since I already workout like it’s my job), rather than just increasing miles, weights or repetitions, I need to investigate what’s fueling this urgency.
Do I have an impulse to exercise because I want to feel active, energized and healthy?
Or could I be using exercise to “outrun” the fear that who I am will never be enough?
9 times out of 10, it’s the latter. In which case, the most beneficial strides toward self-improvement won’t take place through fitness. Resolving to workout more can medicate the symptom. Yeah, sure…of course it can. But the heart-issue will go untreated. And love, impact, art, service—they won’t sprout from a fissured heart.
Instead of focusing all my efforts on the physical, what if I tried setting my intentions on the spiritual? Choosing to affirm that I am enough without “fixing” my appearance to prove it? Now that would be a radical shift. Downright crazy. Weird and wonderful. A pattern of living disrupted. A comfort zone flipped on its head.
But hey, comfort zones are so 2017. Moving forward, I’d rather be soft and intentional. Not stiff and resolute.
So on that note…hello, 2018!