Forget about New Year’s Resolutions: Do this instead

We are coming upon the New Year 2019 – a time of beginning and all the attendant excitement of starting anew.


Many people will make goals, dust off their exercise shoes, and reset their minds according to the vision of what they want to make happen. Some are cynical and say, “New Year Resolutions don’t work, so why bother!”


Some people have long standing affirmations, ways of speaking to oneself to put a goal or mindset into action, and still others have a softer way of declaring to the universe, “May I be happy, May I be free from harm”.


These statements are all relevant. The trick in there is how to use what works for you in a way that actually moves you and your goals forward.


We can use the power of New Year, to declare and affirm our direction. We can use the power of the global community at large to fuel us in a way that can create internal and external harmony.


And just to be clear, I don’t do resolutions. To resolve is to set one’s mind, which is great, but they rarely work for most people. Life and “group think” has a way of sucking everyone back into the old groove.


Instead, try affirmations and intentions. For those of you that do these, the questions then become why do an affirmation or an intention? Maybe it is not just one or the other.


To affirm, according to the online dictionary, means to 1. state as a fact; assert strongly and publicly; 2. to offer (someone) emotional support or encouragement.


Affirmations are the result of the verb affirm, to declare as fact in a positive form something that has deep emotional meaning to the person saying it. It is a way to offer the mind and heart direction, and usually declared in the “I am” form. People will say, “I am walking 3 miles by March 5, 2019.” And then orient themselves around these statements. What makes it different from a resolution is adding in the feeling of what it will be like when the goal is reached.


Intentions offer a direction for the mind as well. While affirmations are highly specific, intentions are a global and inclusive way of taking into account others, the world, and yourself. We live in a world where people have taken on mindfulness and affirmations in business, but done without heart or awareness of origin, can be modalities that harm and hurt. Declaring an intention offers to the world your place in it but is also an opportunity to explore your origin of action.


I teach people that to set an intention is to bring in the sacred, it is a a prayer. The words,   “May I be happy today. May you be happy today” are frequently used, and include the practice of loving kindness and compassion. The words of compassion and prayer are meant to include our feelings, our process and insight from life’s events, as well as open ourselves to empathy to others as we affirm our life in its direction forward.


We are declaring to all that is sacred that while we may want something, we will also move in harmony with a larger plan.


This larger plan may be as some people call, “a ball out of left field”, something unexpected requiring to make a course adjustment. You may lose your job suddenly, or get sick, or you someone comes into your life that opens your world up to new horizons. It can be good or bad or somewhere in between, but keeping the focus of your affirmation and allowing for insight to arise from your intentions helps you to stay in harmony.


To summarize: Affirmations are the direction and the action. An intention is the relational and internal component that incorporate life. Affirmations are a focus practice, intentions properly done are an insight practice. Both are needed to move forward in a heartfelt happy way. What good is a goal if you are alone or feel like hell when you get there?


For more information on how to make, manifest, and put your affirmations and intentions into play, check out my book: The Unconventional Life: How to Leave the Rat Race and Live your Dream.


Happy New Year everyone! I will be teaching on affirmations and intentions as part of a new course for the New Year on setting up your own unique “Healthy Living” practice.  Class location will be on-line and in person at The Center for Mindful Living in Washington, DC.