New Years Resolutions Goals vs. Intentions

     My birthday was earlier in December and my hubby got me a gift that was equally horrific and wonderful- a cordless drill. I have to admit that part of me would have much preferred a romantic night out, beautiful earrings, or a gift certificate for a massage. Instead, I got a drill. To be totally fair I have to include the back story- we have a 30 ft coconut tree in our backyard and a true abundance of coconuts. I’m always looking for ways to improve my health, uplevel my diet, and refine my self care and a few months back I had mentioned to Jeff ( hubby) that eating our coconuts regularly was one of my goals to do be doing just that. So with that in mind, the gift was actually quite thoughtful as he believes it will be the easiest way to extract the coconut water without wielding a machete….which he would probably love. The drill has been sitting in the box, unopened, for a month.

    Changing our routines and making space for something new is hard. As you can tell, I know it first hand. Our old patterns, habits, and ways of being have a strong momentum that is incredibly difficult to challenge. It  can be like trying to swim again the current- going with the flow is so much easier. Yet, if we never shake things up we never grow. Albert Einstein said “ once you stop learning, you start dying. “ As a life long learner who is actively committed to being involved in my own evolution, to consciously designing the life of my dreams, and to continuous growth I have learned a few things about not only about what makes change hard, but also about what makes it a little easier.

    In this season where resolutions are all the rage, just the mere word choice of resolve can work against us as we try to make changes for our own good. The thing is that resolutions, like goals, seem to feed a mentality of scarcity, rather than one of abundance. In other words, resolutions focus on what we think we are lacking, or what we think need outside of ourselves to be happy. What if instead we turned our attention to what we already have? Instead of a resolve to change, or a goal to reach- what if we turned our attention to an intention of how we experience every moment as a way to shape the sculpture or our lives? Where goals and resolutions seem to project us into the future, and set us up to either succeed to fail, intentions do the exact opposite and act as a touchstone to the present moment. Not to knock goals, there is a time and a place for their immense value- I’m just not sure new year's resolutions that focus on how we care for ourselves in one of them. When we concentrate only on trying to reach a goal there is a possibility that we are sending ourselves an unconscious message that we are waiting to love ourselves until….fill in the blank.  If I put off loving myself until I lose a few pounds, make more money, have a cleaner house, or learn to drill holes in coconuts there is a chance I will always be stuck waiting. With intentions, the emphasis is on the practice and not the perfect.

      Practicing yoga is a great opportunity to put this concept into action. Not only can we set an intention of how we chose to show up in each moment, each posture, or each breath- but we can also strengthen our awareness around how goal oriented we may become in our poses. For example in a forward bend if there is a goal in mind of bringing your hands to the ground, the experience of lengthening the spine can be overlooked. Lengthening the spine is one of the greatest physical benefits that yoga has to offer and can be infinitely refined whether you can reach all the way to your feet or only barely touch your knees. In balancing postures if your goal is to stand on one foot unassisted no matter who you have to hurt along the way ( probably only you)  you may very well miss the position, maybe with a toe on the ground or finger on the wall, in which you actually feel balanced- and when we experience balance in our bodies it translates to our minds, hearts, and souls. When we practice being more aligned with our intentions on the mat , rather than only achieving goals, it get’s easier to recognize and understand how we can apply this notion to our new year resolves, and to all the many postures of our lives.

     My intention is to be present with what my body wants to joyfully eat, more for fuel and nourishment then for comfort or fun. Although I have a very healthy, vegetarian diet- I’m also a foodie. Embodying this intention means that everyday I will practice choosing more and more food that my inner body asks for, instead of my foodie mind. This means more of what I put in my mouth will come from my local farmers, or my own back yard. I will for sure do this imperfectly, will still eat some foods with an ingredient list, and it will be a while before I have zero coconut waste- but as long as I keep at it I will never fail. I’ll focus on all that I do, instead of what I don’t. I’ll choose to love myself along the way, instead of waiting for the end result. I invite you to do the same. Take a look at your resolutions or goals and ask yourself which ones may be of more use when framed as an intention instead. Make your intentions meaningful, expansive, and in the present tense. Use words like be, feel, dream, create, affirm, and align. Avoid words like should, always, or never. Keep it short, sweet, and simple. Long intentions tend to keep you locked in your head- instead of the feeling and being in the NOW of they body.  Follow your gut and let yourself be surprised!

If you want to be in on this conversation about change and you feel ready to make long lasting change, ready to make your health and happiness a greater priority, and ready to learn about what real self care is- then fill out this application for The Daily Sacred and we will set a time to chat and see if it’s right for you. If we turn out to be a good fit, we will spend the next 3 months together building self awareness around the actions and the attitudes of yoga and ayurveda that lead to vibrant health, deeper purpose, happiness, and self love. This course is online so you don’t have to be local to join this dynamic group of women, together discovering the path that leads home.