Do you make resolutions at the turn of the New Year? Get excited about a 'new beginning' or an opportunity to achieve a goal, and by week two, you feel like a failure because you have given up? Or do you feel jaded and no longer see any reason to even set a resolution because you never achieve them anyway? Resolutions have caused me so much angst in the past, probably because the resolve was so far off from where I was in my life, they were restrictive and often what other people wanted from me instead of what my heart wanted for myself! Maybe you feel or have felt the same, so let's explore a perspective shift that will keep you on track and inspired, so you can join me in never feeling let down by a new year resolution again!
As a society, we are obsessed with reinventing ourselves. I love the reinvention from a space of love and joy, not lack and regret! However, often we make these plans with so much zeal and excitement only to see them disappear from reach within a few weeks, to be left feeling uninspired and deflated. Often new year resolutions are linked to a specific goal, with popular ones being losing weight, exercising more, and saving money. They were definitely at the top of my list at some point in time! These goals are often focused around something missing from your life, what you believe to be wrong in your life or how you would prefer not to feel. We may choose a resolution that we think will make up for lack of purpose, make us happier or distract us from the overwhelm we are feeling. You may believe that not fulfilling a resolution doesn't matter, but it does. I used to joke with friends, oh well another resolution not kept and shrug it off, but internally it was chipping away at my self-esteem, and I was berating myself for failing, and this is not an act of self-kindness or compassion! Relate? And, that type of behaviour does not serve our long term health and happiness.
Personal growth and goal-setting are exciting to me, but it wasn’t until I jumped off the hamster wheel of 'new year new me' and reframed hardcore resolutions to intentions. That is when I saw and felt a positive difference in my attitude toward achieving my ‘resolutions’. Intentions sit alongside our goals and are guiding principles, mental states for how we show up in the world. They are a way of being, are gentle and qualitative and will shift your mindset, allowing for more flexibility, self-compassion and creativity. Being kind and compassionate to ourselves is associated with better physical health and positively affects our immune function, blood sugar levels, and ageing. All of which serves us for long term health and wellness.
While there is nothing wrong with resolutions, in my experience, intentions are a powerful starting point for actual lifestyle changes and wellbeing. I want to encourage you to move from setting yourself up to fail to respecting and valuing yourself enough to recognise the incredible miracle you are. So, let's start now and explore how we can begin swapping resolutions for intentions.
Here is an example of a resolution to intention swap.
Resolution: I want to lose 15 kilos.
Intention: I am kind to my body, nourish myself with whole foods and move daily. I allow myself space to create healthy, sustainable lifestyle habits following a 90/10 rule.
Do you notice the difference? The intention is associated with attitude and mindset to bring out the best in yourself to create sustainable change. In the example of weight loss, generally, it will come with dietary restrictions that are not healthy or sustainable. When the days get full, a party comes around, or you feel tired, you won't maintain the diet or attend the gym, and if the scales aren't reflecting your expectations, you give up. An intention will focus not on all those external activities so much. The intention focuses on eating whole foods to nourish your body from the inside out and daily movement that aligns with your daily commitments, also allowing space to enjoy a party, dinner or event. While weight loss may happen with both resolution and intention, your intentional self-care habits will become lifestyle habits, not just activities of a short term goal. If you ease the pressure of a resolution, you are more likely to be kinder to yourself. I felt so much more inspired to continue and achieved my goals easier by making that swap. And being kinder to yourself will create a positive ripple effect into other areas of your life, with you more likely to continue with the changes and experience results.
Here is my suggestion on how to take action to have your goals manifest with more flow and kindness. I have found it is the type of process that becomes almost unconscious over time, and you will find yourself setting intentions at all times of the year!
- Finding your intentions. Intentions may come to you easily. If not, spend some time with yourself. Set yourself up with pen and paper in a quiet space. Take a moment to reflect or meditate, be with your thoughts and allow them to wash over you. Don't limit yourself. Think abundance, not restriction. What do you want to add to your life? Refrain from acting on any thoughts and allow them to flow. Begin to notice the repetitive ones and create sensations of excitement and inspiration in your body. Those are the ones you want to write down.
From a wellness perspective, here are some prompts to help you focus
o What do you value in health and life?
o How do you want to feel around food?
o How do you want to manage stress?
o How do you want to feel in your body?
o What do you need to change to feel this way?
- Visualise your intentions. Creating the scene in your mind and 'seeing' yourself behave a certain way will evoke the feelings you need to maintain your inspiration to manifest your intentions. I encourage you to make visualisation a daily practice and enjoy seeing your intentions become a reality. It only takes a few moments a day, and you will experience results. It is best to visualise intentions one at a time until you become confident in your visualisation practice.
Here are some tips on visualising
o Find a quiet space, close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth
o Say your intention out loud, do this a couple of times
o Imagine the physical activities that go along with your intentions. Act them out in your mind. Be specific and detailed. Imagine exactly how you will be. For example, see yourself preparing a wholesome meal in the kitchen. Notice the vegetables you are preparing, the dishes you are using, who you will be enjoying the meal with, the laughter and joy in the experience. Or see yourself saying no to behaviours that don't align with your intention. See yourself confidently saying no thank you to the event because you need a night in. See yourself not feeling guilty for doing so. See yourself feeling relaxed playing with the children. In your mind's eye, see the images that relate to your intentions in detail. This skill can take some time to develop, do your best. The more you practice, the more specific the details will become.
o Hold onto these images for a moment. Notice the associated feelings and how your other senses are affected through this process.
o Feel grateful and thankful for the opportunity to engage in the actions related to your intention. Breathe through this. Speak your affirmation, for example, 'I am grateful for the opportunity to live out my intentions.' We will create an affirmation in the next step.
- Create an affirmation. A positive affirmation will support you in turning your intentions into reality. It supports your subconscious mind in changing behaviour. Affirmations need to be clear, concise, in the present tense and directly related to your intention. They work best when they are repeated regularly. You will need one affirmation for each intention.
Here are some steps to create an affirmation
o Use language such as 'I will' and 'I am'. For example, avoid language such as 'I should' or 'I'd like to'. Keeping affirmations in the present tense increases effectiveness and supports the new behaviours. An affirmation relates to what you want to do now, not in the future. This is why the present tense is important.
o Keep your affirmations simple, specific and short. They need to be easy for you to remember for you to call upon at any time to support you. For example, 'I make healthy choices in each moment' or 'I love my body and all it does for me'.
o Repeat your affirmations regularly throughout your day. Take a deep breath, repeat your affirmation, embrace the emotions you felt while visualising, and combine your affirmation with your visualisation practice.
- Make a vision board. This isn't as time-consuming as it sounds and can be created manually or electronically. Use whatever resources you have. You may like to cut images out of magazines to create a poster to hang somewhere they can see it every day. Or prefer to save images from websites and create a wallpaper for your phone or other electronic devices. You can even draw pictures. However it works best for you, we want images that stir your emotions and relate to your intentions.
Here are some tips on creating a vision board
o Take a moment, state loudly your intention, and do a visualisation. Then repeat your affirmation a couple of times. Embrace the increase in energy and embrace the excitement, joyful and abundant feelings that come with manifesting intentions. Spend a moment in this space.
o Using the magazine or websites, choose images that fit you. They only need to make sense to you. Go with the images you are drawn to, do not listen to any negative self-talk. This vision board is for you only and does not need to impress anyone else. Glue the images to a large piece of paper or card, create your photo collage to print or use as phone wallpaper.
o Once your vision board is complete, place it somewhere you will see it daily. Spend some time each day looking at it. I encourage you to do this around the same time you complete your visualisations.
- Reflection. Spend some time reflecting on how far you have come, on the positive changes you have made, how much closer to realising your intentions you are. Remember to revisit your intentions. Maybe you have manifested them and need to create new ones, or perhaps the current intentions no longer serve you or align with your values. As we grow and change, so will our needs, wants and dreams.
I encourage you to adopt a simple 2-minute daily practice of reflection related to your intentions. Asking yourself
o What went well today?
o What can I do differently tomorrow?
Use your answers as a learning resource of how you are changing and growing, where you need support, and as an indicator of how your intentions are manifesting. I like to journal answers and use them as a reference to see how far I have moved toward my intention, you may like to do this too.
Your intentions may be a significant shift in your current lifestyle choices, and it may take extra effort with visualising and affirmations in the beginning as you are undoing some habits that were formed a long time ago. It took me quite a while to master visualising, it is not a natural process for many of us. If it challenges you, persist. You will get better and it changes everything! I visualise most of my days in the morning, and I notice the difference in the flow of the days when I do and when I don’t. And the days are definitely a lot nicer when I do!
Be gentle and kind to yourself. After all, this is part of why you are making the swap, and some things may take their time to unfold. However, don't use that as an excuse not to do the work. Action still needs to happen for intentions to become a reality.
Now it is over to you. I can't wait to celebrate you! I would love you to share one of your intentions and affirmations in the comments below.
And as always, remember your reasons, your health, your mission and the people you love.
Oh … if you would like to participate in an “Inspired for 5” about swapping resolutions to intentions sign up here.
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