Intention Setting – Use with Caution!

As the first week of January comes to a close, a lot of people will already have caved in and rejected New Year resolutions, or forgotten them, or never even set them.  I have never been an avid resolution setter but this year I am really trying to focus on some positive and achievable intentions for 2018.

I therefore thought I would write this short piece on how I teach and talk about intention setting during yoga classes, and how I personally have come to tackle these troublesome goals.

First off, I would like to say that I feel people put way too much pressure on themselves in keeping their resolutions, goals, intentions – whatever you call them.  The first week of January is notorious for being the most difficult time of the entire year.  People are suffering from post Christmas depression; dealing with horrific hangovers; trying to frantically get their finances in order; feeling overwhelmed by upcoming taxes, bills etc.  The list, for some, is endless.  Add on top of that the added pressure we set ourselves with resolutions such as ‘I need to eat less chocolate’ or ‘I’m going to go to the gym at least 5 times a week’ – you can see how the pressure can sometimes get too much.  That’s why, I believe (and practice) setting yourself small but positive goals, which will give you a boost in self esteem that you need to start your New Year.

Now I spoke at length about this in my previous post and I don’t wish to sound like a broken record but we do tend to draw on the negative when producing our list of ‘resolutions’.  So, although I have said it before, I will say it again – use the POSITIVE moments of your life to create some manageable and fulfilling intentions just for that day or week.  For example, if you find yourself in a better headspace after reading, set yourself the task of reading for at least 20 minutes each day OR 1 hour over the whole week.  It is a simple but nourishing task which is easily managed and will leave you feeling significantly better by the end of it.

Once you have achieved that goal, move onto the next.  Maybe you will continue with your reading, maybe you will increase how much you aim to read.  Perhaps you will say to yourself, ok, today I shall read for 20 minutes but I will also cut out alcohol for the next 5 days.  It is all about gradual build up, about setting small but achievable tasks which aren’t asking too much of you (you have enough on your plate already!)  They also have an obvious structure.  20 minutes of reading + 5 days with no alcohol.  Clear and to the point. Setting intentions which have no limit is a recipe for disaster. ‘I will eat less chocolate this year’, means nothing.  If you have no chocolate one day but then eat an entire cake the next, you will probably feel bad about yourself and also uncertain as to whether you have even broken you new resolution rule.

Start small and proceed to big.  Don’t dive straight into the deep end, flounder around for a while and then dejectedly drag yourself out of the water again. Have a dip in the kids pool, its always warm and fun!  When you’ve had enough and feel ready for stepping it up, then edge into the shallow end of the adult pool.  You have a whole year to move towards the deep end and the endless possibilities that has in store for you. So take your time, enjoy the ride and pace yourself.

But, most importantly, don’t beat yourself up should you not achieve your desired goal.  Adjust, reset and try again.

Intentions help us grow but should be set and used with caution.

Life is for living after all…we are not perfect.

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