We raised the sparkly toast, shared a special kiss, and watched the Shiny Ball drop.  Another New Year arrived, scattering our lives with hastily conceived New Year’s Resolutions:

  • To lose 10 pounds.
  • To save money.
  • To be a better human

Each is a worthy goal, deserving of serious effort.  We’ve obtained steps to shed the weight, save the money, and become a better spouse, parent, child, or professional.  Trust in the plan and initial excitement will fuel our actions for a few days or maybe even weeks, until …

The Problem Emerges.

Somewhere in the the first quarter of each New Year, we begin to lose our mojo.

  • As stress builds, we eat more and exercise less – especially as Tax Day draws gets closer.
  • In the gray of winter, shiny distractions tug at our Wanting Hearts –  we may charge more and save less.
  • Frustrated with trying to change relationship habits, we lapse into old dysfunctional patterns.

Something caused our initial excitement and commitment to gradually evaporate.  As a result, Our New Year’s Resolutions went up in smoke.  I have a hypothesis about why this happens to so many of us.

To explain, I’ll relate my hypothesis to a car. New Year’s Resolutions are like the Starter in my SUV.  Their job is to ignite a Process that will take me to the destination of my dreams.  The problem is, I need more than a working starter to get my car from Point A to Point B.  And I need more than resolutions to accomplish any goals…

I think our New Year’s Resolutions fail, because we ignore something important:

  • To lose weight, we lack a consistent intention to maintain eating and exercise habits regardless of stress.
  • To save money,  we ignore a lasting intention to truly change shopping or entertainment habits.
  • To be a better spouse, we lack a firm intention to change our responses to an unchanging spouse.

How to Fix the Problem of Evaporating New Year’s Resolutions

We need to harness the power  of Human Intention. And by that I do not mean the proverbial force said to pave the road to hell.  Instead, let’s shine a light on the unseen force that guides our daily action. If Resolutions are like a Starter, then Intention is the Gas that keeps a motor running.  Properly harnessed, Intention helps us to implement change even when the odds are stacked against us.

Say I resolve to workout 4 times week, having determined that the proposed schedule fits my life.  Then sudden work or family responsibilities create chaos.  Armed with Intention, I will find days and time to complete each workout, without shedding important responsibilities. Even if I must skip a few workouts, Intention will inspire me to start the workout process as soon as possible.

Years ago, I resolved to be more respectful to my husband. My intention was to respond respectfully, regardless of what was happening between us.  An hour later, he arrived at my office to assemble a piece of furniture.  He was clearly angry, uttering loud expletives as he worked.  Remembering my intention, I calmly handed him screws and tools, even as I bit my tongue. If he had aimed any expletive toward me, I would have respectfully walked out of my office.  Looking back, I see how Intention caused him to help me, even when he was having a bad day.

As a final example, let’s consider a resolution to save money.  A problem I see with this goal is that we often  make it without any intention of changing many of our financial habits. Adding intention to this resolution will cause us to process more financial decisions with “saving money” in mind.

A Nod to the Power of Intention

I think we can see that Intention adds power to Resolution.  Focused intention empowers a Husband to change his response to his Wife. A small consistent tweak can invite similar change in the Wife, transforming the relationship.  Similar intention inspires a person to consistently change eating or exercise habits, transforming physical health.  Likewise, focused intention helps people be more honest with themselves about their use of money, enabling them to reduce debt and build savings.

Far from being a magic bullet, focused intention enables positive change to continue.  It empowers effort to resume and refocus in response to obstacles.  If our New Year’s Resolutions lack such power, they will likely fizzle when life becomes too difficult.

May Intention Power your Resolutions in the New Year!

 What do you think about the Power of Intention?  Speak your mind in the comments below.

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