By the time we’ve lived at least five decades, we’ve typically learned that setting New Year’s resolutions don’t work. Sure, we get all fired up – ‘THIS is the year I’m going to (fill in the blank)’. We might stick with it for a few weeks, maybe even a month, but eventually we get caught up in the stress of daily life and revert to our usual habits, New Year’s resolutions long forgotten.
Worse than that, we feel like a failure. Once again, we didn’t keep our word to ourselves. Most of us finally give up on the notion of even setting New Year’s resolutions. And it’s not really our fault; it’s because of the method. Setting a New Year’s resolution the traditional way relies on sheer WILL POWER, and will power eventually give out.
But should we give up completely? The start of a new year is a great time to reflect: what did you accomplish? How did you improve? What would you like to see, be, or manifest this coming year? What is your vision for 2019?
Here is the method I use to set my New Year intentions. I learned it from one of my coaches a couple years ago, and it’s proven to be very effective for me. It’s very simple: choose one word, (or a very short phrase if you must) that you want to be the focus of your intention in the coming year. One word. Let this word linger in the back of your mind, and in your heart.
How do you select this word? It’s kind of like the word coming up in an 8-Ball. My method is to spend at least an hour in nature on January 1st. I let my body and brain relax and revel in the beauty around me, until I feel I AM a part of that. Then I do some Qigong practice, perhaps a specific Daoist style meditation (which is actually different from Buddhist-style meditation as it is more focused on internal observation.) At the beginning of my practice I set my intention to find clarity on my next area of focus. Then in meditation, I simply wait for the word to float up to me.
The first year I did this, my word was ‘authenticity.’ The next year it was ‘acceptance.’ Both years these words shaped my way of being and interacting in the world. I became more in touch with my true self, needs, and desires. My patience with others – and with myself especially – ratcheted up dramatically. In looking back at the end of each year, I see profound differences in myself.
And this is the important part: I’m pleased with what I’ve accomplished. Instead of bemoaning yet another failure, I celebrate the changes in my way of being. I’ve made a New Year’s resolution that lasted and effected positive outcomes. The reason this method works is because it comes from deep within my soul. It doesn’t rely on external forces or strong will power, but rather on what is truly the next step or next phase in my journey. Regardless of political and world crises, for the most part, I have been able to tap into that New Year’s resolution deep within me and stay focused and grounded.
I have not set my intention for 2019 yet. But I look forward to my day of reflection tomorrow, and to the bright New Year that I know my efforts will bring. I hope you have the opportunity to do the same, and I wish you an auspicious New Year.
Photo by John Christian Fjellestad on Unsplash