New Year’s Intentions

Before I go pawing back through my posts to see if I have ever written a post of New Year’s Resolutions (which, this right here tells you how effective they are!) I am going to set what can best be described as intentions.

So what’s the difference, you say? Well, according to dictionary.com, not much:

res·o·lu·tion
   [rez-uh-loo-shuhn]
noun
1. a formal expression of opinion or intention made, usually after voting, by a formal organization, a legislature,
a club, or other group. Compare concurrent resolution, joint resolution.

2. a resolve or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something.

3. the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.

4. the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.

5. the act or process of resolving or separating into constituent or elementary parts.

in·ten·tion
   [in-ten-shuhn]
noun
1. an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.

2. the end or object intended; purpose.

3. intentions,
a. purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s actions or conduct: a bungler with good intentions.
b. purpose or attitude with respect to marriage: Our friends are beginning to ask what our intentions are.

4. the act or fact of intending.

So why would I prefer the word intention, when, in some ways, intention seems more slippery than resolution. I mean, nowhere in the definition of intention – any of them – do you find the words “firm,” “determined” or “resolute.” If I were serious about what I intend, shouldn’t I be determined, resolute, and of firm mind? Yes. And, well, no. Because when making changes in behavior, sometimes being determined, resolute and firm can be stifling, whereas allowing yourself a little wiggle room now and then is a good thing.

So here’s why – this year – I am setting intentions, instead of resolutions.

1. At this point in our history (I started to say evolutionary history, just to freak out my sociologist friends), our relationships with resolutions – particularly New Year’s Resolutions – is somewhat of a joke. We make them, almost with the intention to break them. Such a tradition doesn’t exist for intentions (neither do the neural pathways that support such behavior).

2. Also, if you break a resolution, game over. However, if you don’t get around to doing what you intended to do, the consequences don’t seem to severe. Indeed, it’s more like, when you intend to call your mother. You may not get around to it today, but there’s always tomorrow or the next day. This may seem minor, but this is actually a huge difference. Most people head into their resolutions with firmness and commitment, but once they break it (or them, since oftentimes resolutions are related) they forget about them. With intentions, you are always intending. You don’t do it today, yet the intent remains. And just that reminder – that intention – may be just what you need to keep you on track (albeit not necessarily on the straight and narrow) for a longer period of time. Of course, the possibility does exist that you’ll never get started, but to the degree that you remain conscious of your intention, our behavior should change, even with minimal effort on your part.

3) Resolutions are to all or nothing. Even the well worn phrase, “breaking resolutions,” suggests that resolutions are fragile and impermanent. With intentions, however, we don’t just make them, we “set” them. Now granted, we do set things that are impermanent, such as a table or an alarm, but we also set things that are considerably more permanent, like cement, as in when laying the foundation for a house or a home. Again, I know that these minor details may seem silly and irrelevant – I get that. However, sociologists, cognitive behavioral therapists, and sociolinguists – not to mention politicians, preachers, and marketers – have known for decades that words structure our reality, our emotions, and, no pun intended, our resolve.

So what are my intentions this year, 2012?

1. To start applying all of the me-tools that I have learned over the last two years.

2. To be present – when engaging with my husband, my family, my friends, my finances, my work, my body, my food,
myself….

3. To live in balance.

4. To produce more than I take in.

5. To pursue pleasure in all realms.

6. To love more (myself included).

7. And to laugh often.

Happy New Years.

May your 2012 bring you every wonderful thing that you can possibly imagine and more….

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