Instead of a resolution… set a New Year’s Intention

Whether or not we make New Year’s resolutions, we tend to think about either making some or not.  We tend to tell ourselves that after the holidays are over we are going to get into better shape, eat better, commit to this or that course of action—we make resolutions, or we think about what we would resolve to do but for our doubt that resolutions are effective.

On the other hand, we could leave the self-defeating resolution thing aside and instead consider crafting a New Year’s intention.  For example, we could set the intention of dedicating our efforts this coming year to the benefit of our children.  By consciously setting such an intention, we raise every other action to a higher level and infuse them with spirit.

If our intention is to dedicate all that we do to the health, happiness and well-being of our kids, then our attempts to stop smoking, get to the yoga studio or reduce procrastinating all subtly go to serve something transcendent of ourselves.  Ironically, when we are consciously playing on the team of our families, and by extension our communities and our world, we may be more likely to make healthy and effective choices for ourselves.

Resolutions tend to be exacting and rigid—an ironclad vision of our perfected selves.  But we are not perfect and all attempts to be perfect inevitably fail, reinforcing low self-esteem.  Striving for improvement, even by small increments, leads to real growth over time while perfectionism dooms us to failure by setting the bar at a super-human level.

Yoga means to bind—harnessing body, mind and spirit to a singular focus or intention.  Thus consciously dedicating life itself to the benefit of something, such as our “children” (even broadly defined), arguably turns parenting itself into “yoga.”  The core concept of Privilege of Parenting is that conscious parenting is, in and of itself, a path to happiness and enlightenment; doing what is already on our plates, but with mindfulness and a dedication to something higher, liberates as it invites balance, strength and courage… of body, mind and spirit.  Setting intention in this way potentially benefits children, but also greatly benefits the parent who sets the intention—allowing an aligning of personal energy with forces greater than the wants and needs of the ego-self alone.

Parenting is very challenging, and expecting to be a perfect parent is an ill-conceived notion.  Losing our tempers less, being a little more patient, spending a bit more time listening to our kids… these are directions, not resolutions.  But dedicating the mere attempts to grow, as parents and/or as beings aside from the care of children, to the good of others is a New Year’s intention that lends heart and spirit even to our abject failures and terribly human fiascoes and regressions.

We can set one intention, a few intentions or many; we can keep our intentions in mind on a daily basis, or come back to them a year from now—but there’s surely room for one conscious breath at this pulsing moment, breathing in love and breathing out fear and desire as we silently and virtually harness the energy of our heart-minds and our gut-minds in a direction of loving kindness for our “children,” biological, adopted, animal, vegetable, mineral… and even ethereal, archetypal and purely energistic.

So, let’s set a New Year’s intention of making this coming year, with all our strivings and struggles, all our victories and defeats, consciously stand to benefit all our collective children. 

Namaste, Bruce

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5 Responses to “Instead of a resolution… set a New Year’s Intention”

  1. Laurie Says:

    Hear, here!

  2. Katrina Says:

    Happy celebration of the New Year to you and your family, Bruce, and to all of us and our families who are connected through Privilege of Parenting. Thank you for nourishing my parent soul through this blog.

  3. Kristen Says:

    Amen.

    I love the distinction you draw between the negative resolution and the positive intention. And what better target of an intention: our children, both natal and communal.

    Thank you for this post and all of your inspiring, thought-provoking words this year, Bruce. Peace, health, and happiness to you and your family in 2010.

  4. Beth K Says:

    Happy New Year, Bruce, Katrina, Kristen, and Privilege of Parenting readers and families!

  5. Sarah Says:

    Thank you for this. Again, you inspire.
    My heart and head have suffered terrifically from perfectionism most of my life. Not until I had three children did I learn to let go of those ideals. But they do still often plague me. And, setting it all aside for a moment, I do believe I am further along in my spiritual path–as woman AND parent–than I tend to recognize. But there is always more learning. And loving. And intending, to do.

    And there is this: “…there’s surely room for one conscious breath at this pulsing moment, breathing in love and breathing out fear.” This is something I think of a lot a lot a lot. Letting go of fear. It does me no good.

    Intentions instead of Resolutions. Thank you for giving me another word, another name, with which to coin my objectives for the new year. I feel much more peaceful about it.

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