Why creating intentions rather than resolutions brings you the happiness in life you are looking for

I recently listened to a podcast that really got me thinking about why I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions. I used to make them every year and have never made it through a whole month without “breaking” one. I realized I don’t like them because they just make me feel like a failure. 

Through listening to the podcast I was able to connect some dots on things I already knew but hadn’t applied to resolutions. A resolution implies there is something broken within us. Something wrong or something we need to fix. When we create resolutions we stay focused on what we don’t want. I don’t want to be in debt or I don’t want to be overweight. I don’t want to drink too much anymore. We stay focused on the deficit. When we stay in this negative energy we create more negative energy. We get lost staring at our belly button and rolling around  working hard trying to muscle through. There was a time when working hard and muscling through was all I knew. I thought that my ability to keep going with no sense of joy, pleasure, or happiness meant I was “doing it right”. Life is hard and only the people willing to keep muscling through the hard times are the ones who will “make it”. 

Wow, so much suffering for no reason. I spent years working jobs I didn’t like, in a marriage that was unfulfilling, and struggling day-to-day just to stay afloat. Looking back, I don’t think I could have really changed my job status, as I was laying the foundations I needed to build my career. I don’t really even think my marriage needed to end until it did (more on that another time). However, if I had the wisdom and knowledge to know how to focus on the things I wanted to manifest and create, rather than being so focused on what I didn’t want or what I wanted to overcome, I could have saved myself YEARS of pain and suffering in the midst of less than ideal circumstances. 

We have this tendency to engage in magical thinking. It is normal for young, developing children to think magically. They think the world revolves around them and they create everything that happens. This is a normal part of human development. As we mature, we begin to realize the world is much more complex and we can engage in more abstract thinking. Sometimes, we tend to get stuck in this magical thinking, especially in areas of our life we have struggled with for a long time. If you struggle to manage your money or weight, then it is easy to get caught in the trap of thinking that one magical day in the future the struggle will end. Our boss will see how hard we work, we’ll get that promotion and all our financial problems will be solved. Maybe we think that one magical day in the future, we will discover the perfect workout, meal plan, or pill and our weight issues will be resolved. Once they are resolved we will magically be free to be happy and content. Until then, we focus on suffering. We focus on what bad and lazy people we must be to still be struggling with our problems. We’re stuck. 

The typical New Year’s Resolutions just reinforce this suffering. In 2023, I challenge you to take a different approach. Acknowledge that there’s no quick fix. Instead of resolving to change yourself, set an intention to change your mindset and free yourself from the trap of magical thinking. 

Those who have broken free from the trap of magical thinking have done one or more versions of these five things:

1.They focus on gratitude.

They think of all the things in their life that are going well or that they love. 

Tip: Think of each area of your life and write at least one thing you are grateful for in each area. It is ok if you need to get creative. Staying focused on gratitude will ground you in the reality of the present without causing you to be overwhelmed by it. 

2. They trust that The Universe has their back. 

This can be a really hard one for someone who has had a lot of trauma or adverse life experiences. It took me a long time personally to believe this but I know in the deepest part of me now it is true. It doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen. We are living in a world where people have free will and all kinds of crazy shit happens every day. What it does mean is that each moment you are in, no matter how bad it is, God or The Universe will meet you right there and bring comfort and a guiding light. 

I am writing a book right now on my experience getting COVID in China and being taken away from my family to an undisclosed location where I didn’t speak the language. I didn’t know what would happen to my children and had zero control or options for helping myself or them. It was terrifying. The conditions I had to live in while sick were deplorable and the “treatment” they engaged in was painful and scary. While all this was going on, my only option was to reach out to The Universe and ask for comfort, love, anything that would get me through those scary moments. I did receive a peace that passes all understanding. I learned through that process that The Universe absolutely does have my back and always will no matter what my circumstances are. 

3. They focus on and celebrate what they want.

People who are happy and content always look for and see the progress they are making. They focus on the way they want to feel and celebrate each moment they do actually feel that way. If you want to feel strong and fit, then celebrate that feeling after a tough workout at the gym. Celebrate the tight feeling in your lungs after a run or long walk. There is no magical future where problems don’t exist. Even if you are in a phase of life right now where it feels like there is nothing but problems, there are moments to celebrate if you look for them. Looking for them now trains your brain to always look for what is going well and what you can celebrate. Then, when life is a little less chaotic and stressful, that joy and celebration will be that much more magnified because you know how to really appreciate, look for, and celebrate what is going well. 

4. They. Let. Go.

Painful things happen. It is part of the human experience. The sooner we allow ourselves to grieve the past and let go, the sooner we are free to create a future full of joy, hope, and love. It took me a long time to let go of the hope that the past could have been different from what it was. I spent years trying to curate a future that fixed my past. If I could create a happy marriage with my husband, then it would make the previous miserable years with him ok. If I could create an amazing childhood for my kids, then it would make my own, sad childhood ok. You see what I mean? We want to “fix” the past by making the future look a specific way. This is how we try to resolve what happened. 

But if you spend the rest of your life trying to create a future that looks a certain way, the past will always control your future. We don’t open ourselves up to the amazing possibilities out there because we refuse to let go. This was so painfully hard for me, but it was also truly the most freeing once I embraced it. I cannot change the pain of my childhood, my marriage, or how the Chinese government treated me while sick. I grieve that shit and let it go. Now I am free for God to send me soaring into whatever is best for me and my future. I am free to see and hear what that is so I can partner with him in the creation of it. It has nothing to do with fixing my past and everything to do with being exactly who I am created to be.

5. They accept the challenges and lessons learned without shame and judgment. 

An easy way to get stuck is to spin in the shame of mistakes and shortcomings while thinking that the future will somehow be different. Joyful and happy people accept failure as lessons learned and move on without carrying the shame. We all fail, we all fall short. We all make big mistakes, sometimes over and over. When you learn to have compassion for yourself and view your experiences and choices as growth opportunities and valuable lessons learned, you can move into the future with more wisdom, compassion, and connection, to yourself and others. Failure is how we grow. Spinning in guilt and shame just keeps us stuck.  

It is my joy and pleasure to continue to grow and help others do the same. So why not set intentions for 2023 rather than resolutions? Focus on all you want to manifest in partnership with God or The Universe. Try out the actions above to change your mindset. When challenges come up, view them as opportunities to grow and gather resources to help you overcome the challenge. If you find it challenging to create the financial portfolio you want, seek resources to help you learn, grow, and understand in this area. If you find it challenging to create a fit and healthy body where you feel fully alive, gather resources, health coaches, and friend networks that will support your journey. 

If you find it challenging to navigate the mindset shifts, you are not alone! I have so many resources from my own journey in combination with my education and training. It is my greatest joy to help you learn, heal, grow, and overcome. So reach out and I will send you the resources you need to get started. 

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