A Powerful Alternative To Resolutions
When you look at last year and consider all that happened, did it turn out the way you intended?
The purpose of that question isn’t to make you feel badly if your year didn’t go as planned, but to open up a more sophisticated conversation about goals and targets and resolutions—because it’s a little more subtle than many people expect.
But before we get into that, let’s start with where we are today. As you might now, we’ve just passed what many people refer to as Blue Monday—it’s supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. Using an equation that takes into account everything from the weather to post-Christmas debt to motivational levels and a host of other factors, the researchers concluded that Blue Monday is pretty much the worst day of the year.
The entire concept has since been found to be pseudoscience at best but the idea caught on. It’s also thought that by Blue Monday, most people who made New Years Resolutions have already fallen off the wagon.
There are countless clichés related to how quickly resolutions falter. About how the gyms are all packed in January and empty again in February. About diets that are started and quickly fail.
Now, I’d suggest that the challenge with resolutions and goals is because they’re much more involved than most people give them credit for, but that’s a conversation we’ll save for another.
An Alternative To Resolutions & Goals
Successfully accomplishing goals requires detailed thought and planning before they can be pulled off. People struggle with them. And the biggest challenge for most people is the New Years Resolution.
If you made one this year and you’re still on track, then hats off to you because you’re in the minority. They’re typically made in a moment of great optimism and hope. The marking of the New Year is very much like a blank piece of paper on which we can write anything. The challenge is that our habits are typically so engrained in our identity that while we have a fresh piece of paper, we tend to write the all the same things as before.
This year at Rhapsody we chose to steer clear of resolutions and opted instead to identify our intentions for the year.
Intentions are not the same as a resolution or a goal. They have a different texture to them altogether. And for many people, they provide what they were really looking for when they were making that midnight resolution on December 31st.
Here’s what it means to set your intention and why its different from conventional goal setting.
It Happens In Your Mind First
The truth is that everything happens in your mind first—especially when we’re talking about goals and aspirations. So the quality of our thinking is fundamental.
Intention: An act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.
At the heart of an intention is the deliberate act of “determining mentally” on the outcome that you are after for the year. When we choose to undertake that task, we encourage clients to choose their words very carefully.
What we say and how we say it matter. Period. Taking the time to carefully choose your words and express your intentions will directly affect the outcomes you’re after. Don’t rush it. Choose carefully.
It’s An Attitude As Well As An Activity
As you set your intention for the year, it’s important to recognize that you’re not just setting a target to hit—it’s bigger than that.
A well-formed intention not only helps set your target, it also shapes your trajectory and your mental state. And, when you look deeply at this, the shape of your mental state is what will determine how everything else will flow.
In effect, when you set your intention, you are setting a state of mind that will characterize who you are and what you do for the year ahead. It’s a profound shift because it involves redefining you instead of simply accomplishing an objective.
Clarity Is Essential
While the deep power of intention is that it redefines who you are, that doesn’t mean that the outcomes you’re after are in any way sacrificed. It’s still about accomplishing an objective.
Your intention should give you real clarity about the outcomes you’re after as well as who you need to become. Without that clarity, your intention will become little more than a fog that wraps itself around you. You won’t be able to see where you are, whether your actions are working, or if you’re coming close to accomplishing your goals.
Get specific. Get focused. Get clear.
The Benefits Are Powerful
By this point you might be saying to yourself “This looks tough, I may as well just stick with a resolution.” It’s not an unreasonable response because here’s the truth: it is tough, and you have to do the work.
For all the quick fixes that are out there and all the promises that get made, we’re here to tell you that this is the path of leaders. It is difficult, it can be lonely, and it requires deep honesty with yourself. Most people give up. In fact, most people never actually try. But if you’re not most people, and you know you HAVE to do this, there are powerful benefits waiting for you.
- A renewed sense of self—By travelling this path, you will know your true, authentic self like never before. If you set your intentions and then live them fully, you will come face-to-face with your genuine self. You will see the depth of your strength and rediscover your sense of worth.
- Your purpose will emerge—Each of live with a sense of purpose inside of us trying to find a way to express itself. As you begin to live your intention with full commitment, your sense of purpose will find new ways to express itself—and typically in ways we never anticipated.
- Your actions will grow in significance—When you’re aligned with your intentions, each choice you make—with your words, your decisions, your actions—will take on greater significance because they will lead you closer to that voice inside who whispers about what is possible in your life.
If you are at a point where you know resolutions are not enough, or even if your resolutions for the year have already faltered, perhaps this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Perhaps this is the time to set your intentions for the year ahead, and to begin making the changes in your life that will bring those intentions to life.
You don’t have to do it alone. We’re with you every step.