There’s something so refreshing and exciting about January and the start of a new year; a blank slate. A chance to renew our commitments to what’s working in our lives, and a chance to let go of what’s not. Resolutions, goals, dares- whatever it is that will help you have your best year yet.
And now it’s February — which means the motivation of January may have worn off, and you might be re-evaluating what you plan on accomplishing this year. And, most importantly, what’s doable.
Personally, I decided a few years ago, that the idea of a “resolution” per say, didn’t put me in the right frame of mind to make changes. I felt it was a bit judgy of what I wasn’t committing to in the present, and felt pressure to keep to my resolution 100%, or thought I was a failure.
Want to know what I do instead? I’ve set an intention to feel more JOY in 2015…. to be mindful of the activities, people, and commitments I make, and align them with cultivating a feeling of JOY. That also includes being of service to others, and trying to bring them more JOY- whether I’m teaching a yoga class, or packing groceries at the food pantry with my kids.
Trust me, this doesn’t mean I don’t have goals- I just go about reaching them in a different way.
Sankalpa, or Setting an intention
Through my yoga practice I’ve learned about something called “sankalpa,” which translated from Sanskrit means resolve, or good intention. By setting an intention, you make it clear to yourself and others, just what you plan to do; you redefine what it means to be serious about your goals and dreams. But not in that hardcore New Year’s way of “I’m going to lose 10 pounds and find the perfect husband.”
I’ve grown to love how setting an intention brings a feeling of excitement and promise, more so than the old-school resolutions I’ve made in the past; those left me feeling guilty and lazy when halfway through February they were old news. The resolution problem lies in thinking that we aren’t “good” enough the way we are, and that we will be better or happier when we get something else, or change who we are.
In setting an intention, you resolve that you’re already “enough,” so you move forward without having an attachment to the outcome- it’s more about the journey. You might still want to lose 10 pounds, but it isn’t focused on skinny jeans, it involves caring enough about yourself to eat good food and exercise. Naturally the pounds come off, but it’s not because you need to change who you are.
The catch is that you can’t just set your intentions and run off; you need to live them every day. As you gain wisdom through self-reflection, your ability to act from your intentions blossoms. We plant seeds of true intention in order to watch them grow like leaves on a tree, and it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s called a practice because it is an ever-renewing process.
How to set an intention
Get clear about something you want to cultivate in your life and write it down. Make a statement that relates to your purpose and HOW you can bring about change. It can include being more patient, kind, generous, or a lifestyle change. I’m going to use the weight example only because that is what most people relate to.
Instead of saying “I want to lose ten pounds,” be specific about where that intention comes from; how about “I will treat my body with respect because I am worth it.” That’s a loaded statement, and might be extremely difficult if you’ve abused your body with diets and exercise before; but just go with it, because failure to reach a past resolution may be due to not believing you deserve it.
Once you have your statement, support it with realistic action steps you can commit to such as: “I will schedule exercise each week, adding more time to my workouts each month. I will add one healthy food to each meal, and I will ask myself if I am truly hungry before I take another bite.” See the difference?
If your intention is something less “measurable” like more focus, ease, happiness,etc- then pay attention to how you can incorporate these things into your day. Then do something each day to demonstrate your commitment to your intention. Make a healthy choice at your favorite restaurant to fuel your body, take a breathe before honking your horn to cultivate patience, or cancel lunch with someone who drains your energy to bring more ease to your day.
Small steps create big change….. start steppin’!
To an incredible 2015…even if it starts in February!
About Danielle: Danielle Diamond is a yoga expert and Nutritious Life certified coach. She’s passionate about sharing her love of living a yogic lifestyle with her clients through her Xen Strength Wellness method which incorporates meditation, yoga, and clean eating.
Danielle was featured in Bobbi Brown’s Pretty Powerful campaign and book, and is a wellness contributor for Yahoo Beauty. She’s appeared on the Today Show, Dr. Oz, Shape, and Self Online; and on YogaVibes, YogaJournal, and YogaDownload. She’s sold thousands of her Xen Strength Yoga videos, and is currently training teachers globally in her Xen Strength Yoga with Weights method.