New Years Intentions: The Real Deal
Every January I see my meditation and Yoga classes fill up with bright faces full of hope and commitment to their new year’s resolutions. Around February and March the masses whittle down until the regular faces are left. I stopped committing to New Year’s Resolutions a few years back because of too many failed attempts at perfecting myself.
I found myself struck with the reality of my age. I reflected on where I thought I would be at this age and was disappointed in how distant that dream was from my reality. I suppose I always thought things would just turn out. I assumed life would provide me the perfect relationship and family, the best career and financial portfolio; everything would just happen to work out because I would be an adult and that’s what happens when you become an adult. Yet, here I was entering my late thirties and still waiting for the day I would grow up and feel accomplished. I felt cheated out of time. This is not a good place for most people and the majority of us have found ourselves here at one time or another.
I never took the time to think about where exactly I was going. I would make vague promises like, “this year I am going to be healthy,” but I never clarified what “healthy” meant. Did it mean watching less TV or eating more vegetables, or increasing my weekly cardio and Yoga practices, or being outside more, or…? Without having a specific intention of what I wanted my life to look like and how I planned to get there I had no chance of succeeding.
Tony Robbins says the first pillar of success is setting a clear intention. He tells us to get crystal clear on what it is we want, so our brain’s programmed to go out and get it. Be specific. What EXACTLY do I want this area of my life to look like? What does it smell like or taste like? How will I create that habit and make it stick? Imagine the essence of the new habit as a regular part of your life. Know exactly the steps you need to take to get there – but be careful – sometimes we can fool ourselves into thinking we want something we don’t really want.
Tony Robbins warns us, if you find you have a clear intention, but you are still unable to attain your goal it is because you are experiencing internal conflicts. Perhaps it’s a goal you think you want because your family or society tells you so. For example, a person might say they want to be married and have a family. They might blame their lack of a relationship on all their inadequate partners. Do they really want this, or are they conditioned to think that is what they are supposed to want? What you do in life is a great indicator of what you are committed to. If you want to lose weight, but are unable to stick with any kind of diet it is likely you are more committed to the comfort of instant gratification than long-term overall health.
When we take a step back and a deep look at our lives we might find another picture unfold – something different from what we thought we wanted. Perhaps this year’s resolution can be an opportunity to take a deeper look at we want out of this life. A good way to explore this is by working with someone, a coach perhaps, or journaling. Stream of consciousness writing is a good tool to break past the first couple levels of what you say you want and find out what you really are committed to.
Sometimes, you might even find you really don’t know. Instead of being put off by that, try looking at it as a good thing, because now you know you don’t know. Now, you can stop fooling yourself and get out of the hamster cage. Until you are clear on the truth of what you want out of this life, all of the promises of a renewed self will leave you feeling disappointed.
Another tool to support this growth is by identifying a quality that will help you in your new commitments. This year, I evoke the quality of inspiration. By stating this I can ask myself throughout the year, “is this behavior/action/choice coming from a place of internal inspiration? Or creating inspiration in myself or others?” By asking myself this question I re-train myself to connect with this goal of being inspired and inspiring. It is a small and constant reminder of what I am truly committed to, which is a life of quality and purpose. Sure, sometimes I will say “no” and do it anyway, but the practice is to keep coming back and hope that my “yes” responses increase throughout the year.