As John Lennon famously reflected, a year has passed, and a new one is just about to begin. Society often views this time as an opportunity for a grand transformation, a moment to analyze the past year’s triumphs and trials. The pressure to swiftly and flawlessly fulfill our ‘resolutions’ can be overwhelming.
While periodic self-reflection is beneficial, the issue arises when we become consumed by the ‘hype’ of the season. Instead of crafting lofty New Year’s resolutions based on perceived societal expectations, I believe it’s more meaningful to assess our current state and consider how we might enhance our lives moving forward.
Resolutions vs. Intentions
A resolution, defined as ‘the action of solving,’ implies a focus on fixing life’s problems. This perspective often leads us to dwell on our flaws and how we might ‘repair’ them. For instance, resolutions like losing weight or hitting the gym stem from dissatisfaction with our appearance.
Conversely, an intention, or ‘the determination to act in a certain way,’ is not about self-correction, but rather self-awareness. It’s about envisioning how we aspire to exist in our lives—how we want to show up for ourselves and others. Whether it’s cultivating patience, spreading kindness, or contributing positively to the world, intentions are about growth, not guilt about our perceived imperfections.
Many New Year’s resolutions originate from a desire to address personal issues, frequently related to addictive behaviours. These behaviours—such as substance abuse, disordered eating, excessive internet use or being glued to our phones—often serve as distractions from life’s challenges or a means to evade our true emotions.
A Different Approach This Year
Rather than fixating on what you believe needs improvement, why not explore instead how you’d like to feel about yourself? If you’re aiming to quit smoking, for example, focus on the self-respect you’ll gain upon achieving this goal, rather than self-criticism about the fact that you haven’t stopped quite yet.
Consider the emotions tied to your habitual distractions. How might your self-perception shift if you started nurturing yourself more? Identifying what actions—or inactions—bring you inner peace and self-respect can help you form intentions that truly honour your well-being.
The Power of Conversation
Awareness of your desired feelings can lead to more realistic intentions and a stronger drive to realize them. Discussing your aspirations and inner journey with someone supportive can provide clarity and encouragement. Remember, self-compassion is key; you’re more likely to succeed in your intentions when you release the burdens of shame and guilt.
By shifting our approach from external fixes to internal intentions, we set the stage for genuine, lasting change. As we stand on the cusp of a New Year, let’s turn our focus inward and cultivate intentions that resonate with who we truly are and who we wish to become.