About this time, most people who continue to make New Year’s resolutions have broken them and given up. There have only been a handful of years when I was a teenager that I made resolutions. Once I realized the futility of setting myself up only to fail, that questioning what makes one day any better than another as a starting point for trying to do something better or different, I quit. Goals have followed resolutions, but only in recent years. Most of the time, we struggle and strive for an end, often miserable along the way, then, if we reach the goal, we have a short burst of “happiness” before we once again set ourselves on a path of effort and strain towards the next goal. American society is based on hard work that leads to success, with the general practice of “I’ll be happy when…my life will be better when…I’ll have more time/money/space/energy when…” As a result, most people are unhappy and steeped in struggle and angst and frustration until those few brief moments/days, that for many, never comes.
About the same time that I began to study yoga in earnest, I realized the difference between goals and intentions. I now begin every day, and often every tutoring session or creative time or riding time with my horses, with an intention to discuss a particular story or math concept, complete a painting or poem, or ride a trail or work on some training aspect that I want my horse to know. My intentions for 2014 are no different. In the writing group I attend on Tuesday afternoons, I listed 10 writing “goals”, or things I wish to do this year. At least 6 of them are carry overs from last year.
A few are obvious ones like finishing the Tanner Trilogy and being consistent with my blog posts. I have created a calendar that lists what I intend to do each day for writing and book promotion. As always, life happens. For example, this post was supposed to be written, according to my calendar, two weeks ago. If I had the mindset that it was a goal to post exactly on the day and with the exact content I laid out a month ago, the opportunity for all kinds of distracting, negative self-comments would have been ripe. Instead, I set an intention, and I can enjoy the process of placing words on this blog, along with a bit of accomplishment for having completed the task, rather than misery and incrimination because I haven’t stuck to my goal.
There are other drives for me to create writing intentions for 2014. Reader requests, monetary reward, accolades, ability to pay the people who help me with my books, satisfaction of transferring stories from my head to paper, branching into new areas of writing, creating art to go along with what I write, connecting with other artists, the curiosity to discover what works and what doesn’t, among many others. When I set up these intentions, I can enjoy the journey which I know may or may not deliver me to the perceived end I have in mind. And when, or if, I do arrive at the place I started off towards, then I can celebrate. And if I don’t “get done” what I intended? Then I reflect as to what happened. Maybe there was a detour and I ended up in a different place because of a choice I made. Maybe I decided it wasn’t an intention that helped me to get where I was going, so I dropped it. Or maybe it was an intention that needed lots of smaller intentions, and though I haven’t completed it, I can adjust and continue on. All this without annoyance and frustration, but rather joy and willingness.
Do you make goals or intentions? What’s your success rate? Have any writing intentions/goals for 2014 to share in the comments? Please do! If you’d like to check out my completed intentions, visit my website: www.myjoyenterprises.com
Great advice and way of looking at things. I’m trying to set goals with steps. The same thing as your intentions. Not doing very well but I have started a calendar kind of like yours and that seems to be helping.
I think it’s important to have smaller steps that get us to the bigger accomplishments. The calendar I made up seems to have a lot of missing checkmarks, but it gives me an idea as to how much I can reasonably do in a day/week. It’s more a practice of adjusting the course and moving forward. But it has to begin with a bit of momentum.