How about setting Intentions rather than Resolutions for 2023?
“New Year resolutions fail because they discount the fact that you’re a human, life happens, and you can’t predict circumstances outside of your control” —ANA MCRAE
Isn’t it archetypal for human beings at the close of a year to ruminate over the endless list of things to be done and undone every new year? It is probably the reason why gym membership advertisements are all over the place virtually and physically. It is also why cookbooks, crash diets, health fads & recipe books are flying off the shelves. Not to miss out on the workshops and gatherings on making resolutions. Drama much!!
This practice of building resolutions is no doubt a disciplined way of looking ahead to plan one’s time. However, the Achilles heel is the stress one goes through to uphold the promises made. In the course of it, being burnt out, disappointed, and finally closing the possibility to ‘try and do what is possible’ gets lost in translation. It also takes away the joy of the experience because we are constantly measuring up.
There are numerous memes around new year’s resolutions; many are wrecked even before it commences. Some stand the test of a month while a few manage to painfully drag it a lot further.
Setting intentions are a more genuine way to assess how the year went by. A time to draft realistic well-being goals that need not be dramatically strict or punitive. Start small by looking at the year gone by and make a list of the relationships and how they went through the year.
It could begin with a relationship with self, family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. We could also look at our association with money, food, sleep, stress, and the environment. There can be an introspection on the efforts and measures taken towards working on each of these bonds. Commencing here gives us a fairly clear picture of how life has been and how we would like it to be in the coming year.
Deepak Chopra says, “Intentions are the starting point of every dream—the seed of creation.”
Intentions are based on a close concern for one’s well-being and hence revolve around personal liberties and peace as against goals and resolutions that are specific, time-bound, and sometimes unrealistic too.
6 fun ways to set intentions for the new year:
- Physical: Set realistic goals around our body. The pandemic taught us that fitness can exist even without gyms and marathons, right? So how about a quick morning routine of stretching every muscle, either on a yoga mat or doing Zumba/hip hop in the hall? This releases the stress hormone and pumps endorphins that keep us active throughout the day. If neither is possible, a fast-paced walk, gardening, or any agile activity to get the breathing labored and strong.
Nutrition is another aspect to be addressed. It is not any contemporary diet or supplements but locally produced fruits and vegetables consumed fresh and with no frills. Just do what grandma did back in the day to feed you tasty non-toxic yummy food.
- Emotional: The beautiful mess effect is the rule of the day. Brene Brown says, “We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we are afraid to let them see it in us. Vulnerability is courage in you and inadequacy in me.”
In a study on emotions, psychologists have stated that while we acknowledge others’ vulnerability as courage, we see our own as shameful and awkward. So how about setting an intention, to be honest, and outspoken about our emotional and unmet needs? We could begin by identifying our emotions and acknowledging them, later picking up the courage to talk about them. A brief brush-up of jargon around emotional well-being may be an added advantage.
- Social: In the rat race to achieve targets and beat earlier year profits, the whole idea of man as a social being is destroyed. Let us set an intention to get to know our colleagues, sub-staff, and senior mentors beyond the graphs and technical data. Each of us is struggling in different ways, and the least we can do is share cordial relations and show respect. There are numerous instances of co-workers going through abuse, discord, and even attempting suicide. These are often overlooked and remain oblivious to those around them.
- Cognitive: Pursue an interest/hobby/pastime to keep cognitive skills fine-tuned. Beyond the everyday chores of work, pick up a skill- music, art, outdoor sport, and spend time in a social service unit. Do anything that diverts the mind from the dull humdrum and offers scope for joy and contentment.
- Spiritual: This simply means cultivating a sense of purpose and amazement at this gift called life. This practice means different things to different people. It varies from sitting quietly and absorbing the sunrise, to being empathetic to a needy neighbor. It could likewise be visiting places of worship, to just being in awe of the wonders of the universe. Which one would you pick for this year’s intention?
- Environmental: Attention to conservation and upkeep of your space–both personal and the larger space play a role in one’s well-being. At an internal level, setting intentions to check the hours of gadget usage, social media engrossment, keeping junk as easy munch, a messy desk with clutter all over, and frequent interruptions over phone notifications. There are many apps and settings that help regulate productive work hours with mindful involvement.
At the external level, one can introspect whether they are mindful of the following:
- Does our daily commute help save carbon footprint?
- Does our disposal and segregation of waste help avoid explosive landfills?
- Does our regular carrying of shopping bags help to reduce plastic waste?
- Do we gently remind fellow passengers on public transport when they spit out of the window, drop their ticket on the floor of the bus, or just disrespect and yell at the conductor?
Do these recommendations seem more relatable and doable?
Educational institutions can incorporate some of these strategies to awaken an innate responsibility and onus on the future possessors of this planet Earth. It could be done in a fun way of learning by assigning a vision board activity for every child. The board comprises words, colorful pictures, cut-outs, etc. to depict the intentions set for the year. These can be placed strategically in the classroom for the child to see and be gently reminded of the intentions.
New Horizon group of institutions encourages such realistic practices that empower the students to become worthy citizens of tomorrow.
Happy Mindful 2023.