What a wild ride 2020 has been. The anxious energy is almost palpable at this point, and many of us are waiting to take that collective sigh of relief when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Because as we all know, 2020 will surely go down in history as the infamous year that we faced a global pandemic, social unrest, economic turmoil, political rivalries and one too many Zoom calls. In short, 2020 put a lot of kinks in a lot of plans — especially when it came to resolutions.
The tradition of New Year’s resolutions is an old one. Over 4,000 years old, to be precise. So it is understandable that many of us looked to 2020 with sparkling eyes full of hope for a healthier life, that new job or maybe that new romantic relationship.
But this year proved that, sometimes, we need something else to buoy us up over hard, set goals. That’s why, as we quickly approach 2021, we want to encourage the idea of intention.
Intention vs. Resolution
So what is an intention? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an intention describes something one intends to do or bring about. Intentions tend to begin with our mindset about a specific area in life that we want to bring into focus.
These can be simple actions like the intention to wake up earlier, eat a vegetable with every meal or go out for a walk every day. Or it can be more complex thoughts such as the intention to be more compassionate to strangers, learn more about something that interests you or bring more self-awareness to your mental and emotional state.
Whatever the intention, just bringing it to the forefront of your thoughts is already a great place to start transforming your ideas into actions.
But what about resolutions? While resolutions aren’t inherently bad, they often don’t leave a lot of wiggle room should a person fail to complete the goal. When we look at the root of the word, ‘resolve,’ we see that a resolution is an answer to something in our lives.
Our resolutions are often answering something we think we lack — the fit body, a healthy mind, a bigger bank account, or the perfect partner. But when we ultimately fail to answer those feelings of lack, we are left disappointed and return to our old habits.
The Challenge of Intention
Just like resolutions, there are challenges to the idea of setting intentions. Intentions require us to be mindful of ourselves, look at our lives from a place of gratitude and reflect on how we either hit or missed our intentions. Plus, intentions can still carry that feeling of failing if we didn’t exactly meet our personal standards.
But one of the joys of setting intentions is that it can sting a little less than failing at a resolution. Simply put, we are putting as much or as little pressure on ourselves and our intentions. So if we decide to set the intention of journaling every day of the month but end up only getting to half the month, we can reflect on this and change our intention to meet better who we are now. Rather than who we wish we were. That’s why monthly intentions might just be the way to go in 2021.
Monthly Intentions Over Yearly Goals
So what will your monthly intentions look like? That is, of course, entirely up to you. But an excellent place to begin is by grabbing a journal or writing keep notes on your phone, and start thinking about how you want to shape your year.
Maybe for January, you intend to rest and relax when you feel the need. And perhaps when June comes around, you intend to volunteer at your local animal shelter. Maybe in October, you intend to read a book in a genre you wouldn’t usually choose. As you work through these intentions, you come back at the end of the month to reflect, adjust and find gratitude in the ups and downs that life will ultimately always bring.
This year, let’s all take that collective sigh of relief at midnight on New Year’s Eve and put the resolutions to bed. We deserve it. Instead, let’s find the compassion to set thoughtful intentions to create a hopeful new year of possibility.