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  • Writer's pictureAmy Holder

Embracing Intentions: A Gentle Approach to New Year's Growth

The start of a new year often brings a sense of renewal and the desire for positive change. While resolutions have been the traditional go-to, there's a growing trend towards setting intentions as a more mindful and sustainable approach to personal growth, especially when it comes to mental well-being.

1. The Pitfalls of Resolutions:  

Resolutions are firm decisions to do or not do something. Often they are inflexible and overly ambitious or unrealistic goals. Unrealistic expectations can lead to frustration and disappointment if the goals are not achieved quickly or easily. Resolutions tend to inspire negative thoughts about your current situation and can lead to feelings of shame.

2. The Nature of Intentions:

An intention is a practice that requires us to be present rather than stuck in the past or too focused on the future. It's something you aim for, an idea or concept you mean to carry out or embody. Intentions are open-ended and relatively vague, allowing more room and grace for growth. Unlike resolutions, which often revolve around strict, future-oriented goals, intentions emphasize the journey rather than the destination. This can reduce anxiety and foster a more compassionate mindset.

3. Mindfulness and Self-Reflection:

You can simply begin with reflective contemplation about what feels unbalanced. By taking the time to connect with oneself, individuals can identify their values, priorities, and the changes they truly want to make in their lives. This introspective process can have profound effects on mental well-being. What do you want to cultivate in your life? how do you want to feel? Intentions are about the journey, so focus on the kind of person you want to become or the way you want to approach life.

4. Flexibility and Adaptability:

Explore the flexibility that intentions offer. Unlike rigid resolutions, intentions allow for adjustments and changes as circumstances evolve. This flexibility can be crucial for maintaining mental health, as life often throws unexpected challenges our way. Approach yourself with compassion. Recognize that the journey of self-improvement is ongoing, and setbacks are a natural part of the process. Treat yourself with kindness and learn from your experiences.

5. Fostering a Positive Mindset:

Frame your intentions in positive language. Instead of saying, "I want to stop procrastinating," say, "I intend to manage my time more effectively." Positive framing helps to shift your mindset and approach your goals with a growth-oriented perspective. Instead of focusing on what's lacking or needs to be fixed (as resolutions often do), intentions celebrate the present and cultivate gratitude. This shift in perspective can be a powerful tool for managing stress and promoting mental resilience.

6. Sustainable Change:

Sustainable change is often achieved through consistent, incremental efforts. Intentions promote gradual, sustainable change, making it more likely that individuals will incorporate new habits into their lives without feeling overwhelmed. This steady progress can positively impact mental health over the long term.

7. Goal Setting within Intentions:

Mindful goal-setting involves being fully present and aware as you set your intentions. However, these goals are framed within the broader context of one's overall intentions, ensuring they align with personal values and contribute to a more holistic sense of well-being. Avoid rushing through the process. Consider each intention carefully and make sure it aligns with your values and long-term well-being.

Choosing intentions over resolutions offers a mindful and sustainable path to personal growth, promoting a positive mindset, adaptability, and a lasting commitment to well-being. Setting an intention is about giving direction or meaning to our lives. It also could mean changing an attitude about something as a way to transform or change. Whether it's adopting healthier habits or developing a more positive outlook, having clear intentions can provide the motivation needed to make positive changes.

December always brings quiet reflection as the world around me succumbs to winter's stillness and required rest. This has been a year of new opportunities, difficult and emotional challenges, and a reshuffling of priorities. There are so many moments to reflect on and learn from. I have worked hard to cultivate a growth-oriented mindset and continue to try to trust and enjoy the process of learning and growing. This process can be joyful and painful at times, but I understand this comes with the terms and conditions of being human. There are just a few intentions that have surfaced recently that I hope to bring with me into the new year.

I will allow myself to take up space and be myself.

I intend to deepen the connection in my relationships.

I will hold space for my emotions.

I intend to give my mind and body time to rest before making big decisions.

There is beauty in taking ownership of our lived experiences. Intention setting is a simple way to do just that. What intentions will you set for the new year?

Happy New Year

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