Every New Years thousands of people worldwide create a resolution for themselves for the year to come. This “goal” is usually set around health and happiness, and may include shedding a few pounds, getting organized, or making time each day for numero uno (that’s you!). As January slips by, many still incorporate their resolution, or goal, into their thought process and daily planning. In February only the hard-core continue with their mission. Dan Diamond, a contributor to Forbes magazine, states only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s Resolution, sticking with it until December. So I ask myself, ‘Why is it important to have a New Year’s Resolution?’. I believe the answer is in the pudding (is that how the idiom goes?).
Joel and Michelle Levey, in their book Living In Balance, state ‘Intention is a power that sets our trajectory as we initiate a path of action’. They go on to say, without a clear intention one tends to drift. By setting an intention, we are more likely to pay attention to the outcome of our efforts. For example, I may go to a coffee shop with the intention of listening and connecting to myself and others in the moment. As I walk in, a man may hold the door open for me. I would look him straight in the eye, knowing my intention, and say with a smile, ‘Thank you’. I may go up to the cashier, and before ordering my coconut milk latte, ask, ‘How are you today?’, and actively listen as they answers.
Without the intention of listening and connecting with those around me, I may not even notice the man holding the door open for me. If I did happen to notice, I may give a half-hearted, ‘Thanks’. The cashier, busily making drinks and taking orders, would have hastily asked what I wanted. I would have responded, and she would have rang me up, without taking a moment to check-in with herself to find out, ‘How am I doing?’. She might not have known the people waiting to order their drinks care about their wellbeing. This would create a sense of ‘other’ or separateness, which often leads to pain.
Setting an intention creates connectedness with the self, as well as with others. This leads to living life with a purpose. Intentions also allow one to more easily make decisions. As obstacles arise one can refer to the set intention.
An example of how this might look in action: As I drive to the coffee shop, a woman pulls out in front of me. Instead of reacting to the situation by honking and throwing my hands up, I can refer back to my intention of connecting with myself and others in the moment. I sense the urge to react, but instead I listen and connect to the feelings in my body. I realize I am scared for the safety of myself and the other driver, and instead of riding the car’s bumper all the way to the coffee shop, I may give her some space on the road.
Setting an intention is similar to setting a goal or resolution. It is a way by which to live life. Whenever one feels overwhelmed or off track, is it useful to stop and reawaken to the set intention. When setting my intention for 2016, I found Melissa McCleery’s question to be most helpful.
- What do I want to be doing, thinking, feeling, and being 12 months from now?
Answering each part of the question honestly is the first step to creating a New Year’s Resolution. The very important second and third steps are answering the following:
- What will this look like? How can I measure my success?
- How will I accomplish these goals?
Remember, taking small steps toward the attainment of these resolutions will mean a greater likelihood of accomplishing them. Coming back to these goals frequently throughout the year helps one recenter when fallen off track. It also allows one to see progress more easily. I suggest writing the resolutions, or intentions, on sticky-notes and placing them throughout a 2016 planner, as a reminder to check in with oneself.
As the year goes on, the intention by which one lives may change. That is okay. Re-evaluate, recenter, and begin again. On this path called life, there are no right or wrong turns. Only lessons to be learned which guide us.
Now back to the pudding.. Let me know 12 months from now if this helped!
May you all be healthy, happy, and free. Happy New Year!
*Copyright © Melissa McCreery, PhD. Psychologist, Author, and Emotional Eating Expert, Dr. Melissa McCreery focuses on the three O’s that ambush successful, high-achieving women – overeating, overwhelm, and overload. Take the free Hidden Hungers Quiz athttp://TooMuchOnHerPlate.com and get customized steps to end your overeating.