What can I say, it’s that time of year again when we’re struggling through our New Year resolutions. For some, the New Year is merely an arbitrary number on a calendar reflecting very little about us. Though in part this is true, I would say most view the New Year as something more. For a lot of us, the New Year’s resolution is an outdated ideal. Like a diet it has a proven track record for failing us despite our “best intentions.” This is because, like a diet, resolutions have a short lived time frame of activity and typically involve the mind set of restraint, limitation or deprivation. If we look at the definition of Resolution it comes up as; the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict or problem. In this definition we can find some subtle truths about human nature and the way we think, for example: “For the New Year I will find an answer to all of my problems!” What if our focus was not on the problems in our lives but directed at attaining our true desires? We can shift the focus of our thoughts from something like; “I will loose weight” to “I will gain my ideal climbing body.” Such a subtle shift in the way we view our life can have a dramatic and lasting impact.
As a vegan athlete I am often asked how I gave up cheese, or ice-cream, or pizza! The simple answer is that I didn’t give them up; it wasn’t with an iron clad will that I started to deprive myself of these foods. No, that would be ridiculous and tragic. Eating as I do is a conscious choice, and one I make easily because it fits into my desired lifestyle. When we truly desire something and set a positive intention to attain that desire, reaching our goals in life becomes easy. If we’re doing it right, it’s not a fight.
Now that we’ve looked at the definition of resolution, lets look at the definition of intention. Intention: a mental state that represents a commitment to carrying out an action or actions in the future. Intention involves mental activities such as planning and forethought. The key differences between the words resolution and intention is intention caries with it the mental state of commitment and forethought. When we set a positive intention we are committing to the attainment of our desires and laying a framework of how we plan to attain such a goal. Implicit in the word resolution is the notion of a preexisting problem or conflict. Recent studies in neurolinguistics are showing that our brain will grab onto negative words even if they are used in a sentence structured towards a positive. If we say or think a phrase such as: “I will solve all my problems today,” the brain only registers the word “problem”-which then has a negative effect.
So instead of setting resolutions, why not set some positive intentions? The first step in setting a useful intention is through the process of reflection. I began this year by reflecting on all of the things I accomplished over the past year and ruminating over any goals I didn’t meet. Through this process it’s important not to embrace the “blame game” and to be conscious about the real reasons some goals weren’t met. In doing so we leave our ego behind and view past choices with an unbiased perspective, for it’s always easier to blame others or circumstance than to accept responsibility for the decisions (or more likely the indecisions) which may have momentarily led us down the path of complacency. My Dad use to say (as my eyes rolled in dismiss) “if someone was going to pay you a million dollars to accomplish something, you would find a way to move mountains to see it through.” Now, as much as I hate to admit it, I see the wisdom in his words. Success almost always comes down to the level of commitment and the energy you put forth to see a project through. It’s a matter of motivation, and there is no better motivator than incentive. To motivate ourselves, it’s helpful to look back on previous achievements and analyze the personal incentives which psyched us to reach our goals.
Once we have a reference point and some enticing incentives to help us reach our desires, it’s time to embrace what we truly want. Give yourself permission to dream big! Great things can and do happen to people who dare to reach beyond any limiting beliefs they may be holding and therefore step outside the social paradigm. For most of us simple goals are the easiest to attain and can help fuel the confidence we need to make the big changes we wish to see. It’s very important to remember, throughout this process, to focus your attention on the desired outcome and not on the road blocks or problems you might be trying to fix. Remember the idea is to set positive intentions, not resolutions.
The last and final step in this process is to insure your intentions by setting up reminders. Life can get busy, things happen, and there are constant distractions to keep most dreams from ever leaving the ground. Take time in your day, your week, your month to remind yourself of your intentions and the incentives so you don’t loose momentum. After all, the root of momentum is in the moment-so be there!