So it’s been 9 days since everyone set their intentions to adhere to whatever resolutions they’ve set for the new year. Perhaps like many people year after year, you start strong with a clear desire to make changes, but then life gets in the way. Of course life is challenging and full of distractions, but once the backslide starts, it’s very hard to overcome and get back to your pattern of improvement. Even worse, if you’re regularly missing the mark on your intended mission, anxiety and depression can sink in if you haven’t already completely given up. So how do you not only prevent but actively combat this familiar road that almost all of us have gone down the start of every new year?
Notice in my first sentence that I wrote about setting intentions, not resolutions. The hard truth is that resolutions imply that we will be “resolute”, and most humans are far too finicky or living in delicate situations that require a little more flexibility. Being flexible doesn’t mean that you will allow obstacles to get in the way of your goals. It means that you must approach your intentions in a thoughtful way that will align with your life to ensure maximum success. Most people go about trying to keep their resolutions in an ineffective manner because they fail to realize that a resolution is truly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to change. The same way the core mass of these broken glaciers remains hidden underneath the surface is the same way that intention is truly the primary force behind a resolution. Without intention, a resolution has the ability to quickly morph into an empty promise. Therefore, it’s essential to really understand and contemplate the reasons and inspiration behind the changes and improvement you wish to make.
It’s also important to be as realistic as you are optimistic. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and if we’re going to be honest, most humans aren’t cut out for making extreme changes using the “cold turkey” methodology. Slow and steady wins the race, except in extreme cases that have to do with self-destructive activities and behaviours. However, outside of that scope, you want to make small and attainable improvements and tasks that you can achieve with minimal to little effort. The psychology of successfully reaching a series of set objectives will propel you along your way to continuing on your path- but it only works if the challenges are met, so it’s crucial to start with a manageable set of aspirations that can be attained within the first 30 days. A habit is said to take about 12 days to form, so you want to set yourself up for success. A smart, conscious plan to carefully align with your intentions is worth 1000 resolutions.
Now what if you’ve fallen off the wagon somewhere on your journey? How do you pick up where you left off, or start over? Again, it goes back to intent. Your intention to improve or to change something in your life should far outweigh any shame or anxiety you experience while encountering challenges and setbacks along the way, and if it doesn’t you should evaluate just how much you need or want to make the improvement you claim to want to make. If you are experiencing a mental block, you need to do your best to identify its purest source. Professional insight is always a viable option if you can’t seem to figure things out. But part of declaring intent is getting right down to the nitty gritty of why you are or aren’t progressing towards your wants and needs. Think of it as spring cleaning for the soul.
The first step to any type of breakthrough is to acknowledge you need to be better and to do better. That realization is intimidating, among other things. It’s sometimes not easy work to begin the process of committing to a mission of self-improvement, but it’s commendable work. So go forth and prosper! If you're on a proper journey living out your intentions and you feel like you want to reward yourself, make sure that you’re providing a lateral treat and not “cheat days” which is essentially the willful ignoring of the objectives you set for growth. Cheat days have the potential to trigger a person into relapsing, so make sure you’re rewarding yourself with items or activities and behaviour that will enhance your journey and end goal.
Setting intentions is a diagnostics test for your mind, body, and spirit. Although they only work as well as your motivation, it’s much easier for one to align to intent than to a resolution. And the great part is that you can set intentions all year round!
Veronica "Wildchild" and her sister Alyson are the writing duo behind Wildchild Society's blogs..