New Year’s Resolutions Canceled!
At this time of year, many of us make resolutions, promising ourselves that during the coming year, we’ll stop doing something or start doing something or achieve or acquire some desired outcome or object. We falsely believe that if only we accomplish or acquire this one thing, we’ll be happy and whole: a better person living a better life.
New Year’s Resolutions aren’t new. The ancient Babylonians were the first people to make New Year’s resolutions more than 4,000 years ago. They made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. If they kept their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of favor with the gods—a highly unpleasant fate.
For early Christians, the first day of the New Year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future.
Today, New Year's resolutions are secular. According to research, as many as 45 percent of Americans make them. These annual goals or promises to ourselves are often driven by our assumed expectations of others and come from a place of lack, designed to fix a problem or fill a void. They have a fixed outcome, which is limited to what we are aware of at this moment in time.
Resolutions are pass/fail. And when we ‘fail’, we judge ourselves, beat ourselves up and we suffer. If that sounds familiar, you are not alone! In fact, research shows that only 8% of people who make resolutions succeed at achieving them. Eighty percent have forgotten or given up on them by February!
This year, instead of resolutions, I plan to set intentions. Unlike resolutions, intentions come from deep within our hearts, not our heads. They guide us toward a life that inspires. They come from and create a sense of abundance. Intentions aren’t about the specific what we do but instead, about how we do whatever we do.
When we set an intention, we are creating an energy, a way of being that allows us to attract or achieve what we want in the world. Intentions serve as a guide on our journey. They aren’t the journey itself. We still have to do things, but we bring a certain quality to the doing.
The intentions I plan to set this year are: adopting a growth mindset, assuming positive intent and being more present.
When we can embody our intention and let go of what the specific outcome will look like or exactly how we’ll do it and we release the notion of having the achievement of something dictate our happiness, we discover many more options and find that we can experience greater joy, ease and growth. Each time we realize we’ve drifted from our intention, we can acknowledge it and begin again.
I invite you to reflect on how you want to grow in the coming year. Write down your intentions and post them in a place where you’ll see them regularly.
Perhaps read your intention before you meditate, even use it as an anchor for your meditation- like a mantra.
Allow your intentions to inspire you. Remain curious and open to what is revealed.
Observe and express gratitude toward positive things that occur for you no matter how small.
Steven Charleston a Native American Elder and Episcopal Pastor says:
"Let what has happened sleep now, nestled down in blankets of hours and days, let the past find its own rest, for that story is finished, while your story has only begun. A new year opens before you, a new field of possibilities as far as the eye can see. Walk toward it with confidence. The Spirit is with you. The community of hope is with you. Whatever is to come, whatever you find along the way, you will be more than able to handle it. Wisdom walks beside you, experience is your guide: you have come this far for a reason. Trust in what you believe and let love take you where you want to go."
Wishing my MEA family a very Happy New Year from inside out!
MEA alum Cindy Loughran is a Masterful Leadership Coach, Certified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher and lifelong learner. For over 30 years, she has followed her life purpose to empower others by supporting them to grow from the inside out, gain clarity in the midst of chaos, make decisions with greater confidence and respond vs. react. In addition to her 1:1 and group coaching, Cindy offers a weekly Mindfulness Meditation session every Monday: www.cindyloughrancoaching.com.