Hey all you New Year’s Resolutionaries! It’s that time again. Time to reflect on the year that is ending and think about the new one coming up, resolving to improve this or start/stop that. Make a list of things you want to accomplish, goals you want to reach, things you want to make happen. It’s a ritual you partake in every New Year’s Eve, like watching the ball fall at Times Square for the countdown to midnight.
So how’s that working for ya?
If you’re like most of us, the number of things still unaccomplished at the end of the year far outnumber those accomplished. In other words, it’s not working well. I gave up making New Year’s resolutions many years ago. I got tired of making promises to myself that I didn’t keep. So I stopped. No more lists of goals to be accomplished by December 31st. I was sick of feeling guilty for not achieving them, sick of disappointing myself in such a ritualistic way year after year. Enough. No more.
That’s not to say I don’t reflect on the year that has passed, or ponder the new one starting (or that I don’t have a “To Do” list as long as my arm!). I still do a mental ‘summing up’ of the old year, and think about how I’d like the new year to be. And I consider ways to create that new year for myself, but not with a list of ‘things to do’ or ‘goals to achieve’ or ‘habits to break’.
For this New Year, I would like to concern myself with ‘attitude adjusters’ or ‘brain trainers’. Not things to accomplish and be done with, but states of being to move toward on a permanent basis. I would like to work on my intents, rather than my intentions.
Merriam-Webster defines “intention” as “A determination to act in a certain way. What one intends to do or bring about.” We all have good intentions – the road to heaven is paved with them, right? But having good intentions doesn’t necessarily get the job done.
“Intent” is defined as “The act or fact of intending.” Or more specifically, “[A] determined and purposeful state of mind accompanying an act… Implies inevitability of a consequence.” (BusinessDictionary.com).
Thesaurus.com gives this clear distinction: intention implies “…an intermittent resolution or an initial plan” whereas intent “…implies a sustained unbroken commitment or purpose…”
Intention versus intent. An intermittent (every New Year’s Eve) resolution versus a sustained commitment. A determination to act versus the inevitable result of a state of mind.
The other day, as I was thinking about all of this and starting to write this blog entry, a friend posted something on Facebook that brought it home for me: “Joy is the inevitable result of gentleness” (from A Course in Miracles). Being in a state of gentleness will inevitably result in joy.
And who wouldn’t want that?
So in this New Year, I am going to work on my intents instead of resolutions. And perhaps I’ll start with gentleness.