Throw out your resolutions and start creating intentions!

Every year it’s the same game. You look at everything that sucks in your life, get depressed, create resolutions/goals, get motivated, break resolutions/goals, and feel stuck again. Ugh!

Going through this can make the days following New Years can feel like crap. It doesn’t have to be that way.  Why not have have a New Year that allows our deepest desires to come true, instead?  Doesn’t that sound kind of hokey, but also completely fabulous?

As a society we are very outcome and action oriented. I don’t blame us because the end result of our efforts often looks awesome.  But we can trip over ourselves when we obsess too much over keeping our “eye on the prize”.  Sometimes the end result isn’t what we hoped, and the critical part of us might start insisting that we’re good for nothing failures. Despite its harshness, this part’s intentions are to motivate us, but in the drill sergeant, militant sort of way. The problem is, the more militant those inner parts get, the more other aspects of us then say “screw this!” and give up.

The solution is the act of creating intentions. The idea is related to a practice that yogis have been practicing for thousands of years, sometimes called “Sankalpa.”  “San” means spirit and “Kalpa” means intention. In this practice you focus on an aim or a process rather than an outcome.

Unless you’re Katniss Everdeen, trying to hit a target with a bow and arrow can be hard.  You’d aim, and possibly miss many times.  But assuming you’re not a professional archer, you could enjoy this challenge anyway.  It’s not just about bullseyes.  For you, archery may be a good way way to bond with friends or to cultivate a craft.  It’s a pretty rewarding feeling just to release the string and let an arrow fly.  Process…not just outcome.

So how does one start creating intentions?  First by getting quiet and asking yourself what your core values are. Are they family, work, relationships, health, spirituality, community? What order of importance would you put these in? Now imagine how you want to feel (by using actual feeling words) around these values.

For example, say you want to feel connection in your relationships. You want to feel proud of your decisions. You want to feel freedom and inspiration.

Now focus on what qualities we have within us that are needed to create these feelings.

Think: I need my capacity for acceptance and compassion to feel a sense of connection to others. Or I need my growing ability to be methodical, in order to make better decisions.

By focusing on your core values, how you want to feel, and what inner qualities are needed to access those desired feeling, you’ll notice a change. You’ll start creating intentions, and with them, satisfaction.

Below is an example I hope you find useful. By focusing on my intentions, the parenthesis came to me organically. Note, you will need to sound corny to feel good so whoop it up!


The core value I am focusing on is family and friends. The feelings I want to feel are connected, content, free and proud.

Tonight is New Years Eve.  For today my intention is:

To be with family and friends (core value)

To feel connected (being with family and friends),

To feel freedom and mastery (going to dance class), and feel proud (clean my house a bit).

To feel these feelings, the qualities I need are:

My compassion and love with family and friends.

My growing self-acceptance in dance class to feel freedom and imperfect mastery.

My intuition to prioritize what needs to be focused on in my house cleaning b/c I never want to do this for very long.

Intentions are an inside-out principle that can be guided by our core values, feelings and qualities. Clarity in our actions can come from our intentions. Living this way makes life feel less crappy by protecting our internal parts from undue harshness and opening the door for that precious intention of imperfect joy.

For more on creating intentions, check out my upcoming workshop!

Wishing you imperfect joy in 2014,


For More: Experience Wellness Group


Relevant Links:

Internal Family Systems

Acceptance Commitment Therapy

Desire Mapping

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