It’s time, I think, for a change in approach and a change in phraseology. In the last few weeks I’ve seen countless articles espousing the virtues of making new year’s resolutions; resolutions that reek of effort, of striving, frankly, of stress. I’ve had it with pressure and expectation. All my life I’ve lived with it – happily, I might add; it was all I knew and it was who I was.
My parents had high expectations of me and I had high expectations of myself. Mum tells the story of how, frequently, I’d be up late re-doing my homework because if I made one tiny mistake, I’d screw it up and start over from scratch. I was at primary school, for goodness sake! It carried on through school, this striving to achieve, this looking forward to a big hairy audacious goal. At high school it was Head Girl. Tick. At university it was an invite into Honours. Tick. At post grad level it was a special distinction. Tick. At work it was promotions. Tick., tick, tick. I’m proud, and I’m not regretful, but I’m reflective: although those goals were mine, they were driven by expectation and they were extrinsic. They were external achievements, under my influence but ultimately under someone else’s control to award.
How about, instead of looking forward, we look inward;
instead of following sign posts from others, we chart our own course;
instead of setting goals to work toward, we feel our way home.
By home I mean your heart, your truth, your style, your rhythm: the way you behave when you feel most YOU.
It doesn’t much matter what you achieve if you don’t feel great on the way there. And as ‘achievement’ is a finite end state; a final accomplishment, isn’t focussing so much energy into planning for a future state somewhat off-balance? What about the journey there? On the journey to achievement, we’re living. Living means being awake, alert, breathing, sensing, feeling. So I think we’d all do well to make the way we want to feel the focus of our resolutions this year. And while we’re at it, let’s be gone with the word resolution.
Resolution comes from the word resolve.
verb (used with object)
1. to come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine (to do something):
Definite. Decision. Determine. They’re all forceful words and indicate there’s a black and white; an achieve or fail. Yet life is full of greys (or, multicolour, depending on your outlook and if you’re a ‘cup is half full’ kinda gal).
Intention, on the other hand, is defined as “purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s actions or conduct”. It’s much more intrinsic, personal, and forgiving.
In yoga, which I have a deep affinity with and am currently training to teach, we use the word ‘sankalpa’. At its basic level, this Sanskrit word is translated to ‘resolution’, however as with all Sanskrit words, it has great depth of meaning that aligns with this resolution revolution I’m musing on. A sankalpa is ones’ heartfelt desire, which comes from deep within and honours the deeper meaning of one’s life. San= an idea that is formed in the heart. Kalpa= “This is the rule I will follow above all other rules”.
My understanding is that it generally refers to a desired quality of being, said as an affirmation – that is, in the present as if it already is. It is simple, pure, with all expectation stripped away to reveal your truth. In my experience, it often has resonance with your values.
Here are some of my own:
“I am grounded and free to explore my creativity”
“I am calm, confident, compassionate”
“I am strong, fit and vital. Every breath I take fuels my energy”
“I am love, I am light, and I when I smile the world smiles with me”
You can have more than one intention. After all, we’re complex beings. But don’t have so many that you confuse yourself. The point is, to get clear on your heartfelt desires, your values, how you want to feel and how you want to go about living your life each and every day.
When you’re true to your values and let your heartfelt desires guide you, you’ll feel more authentic, you’ll be nurturing an inner contentment and confidence in yourself – and a by-product of that, especially relevant for mums, is that you may find yourself less pulled by the expectation of others, you may find it easier to say no and you may feel less guilt. You’ll feel as if you’re living a life that’s right for you. You’ll feel as if you’re living for today – not striving for tomorrow.
Do you see what I see? Do you agree? That intention is far more positive and productive – and more comforting – than resolution. It’s a softer, gentler, more graceful approach to change. And I think it’s more sustainable too: an intention that reflects what’s in our heart and soul will carry us for longer, and further, than a series of finite resolutions.
Instead of a ‘new year, new you’ mindset, how about
‘new year, true you’.
namaste, Tui xx