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The Power of Setting Intentions

24524207_sThis blog post was written by Recovery Help Now’s, Cindy Weathers, MFTi.

It’s the beginning of a new year and a time when many reflect on goals for the year ahead—better health, losing weight, a new job, travel, or finding a relationship.  But change is hard. It requires a real commitment, planning, and follow-through.

The problem is that many people fail to achieve their New Year’s resolutions and end up feeling defeated and disappointed.  The reason: setting and reaching goals isn’t strictly about self-discipline or willpower; it’s about intention and finding pleasure in pursuing what matters to you.

Studies show that humans have a fairly limited reserve of willpower, so trying to change more than one thing at a time tends to be overwhelming for most of us.  This year, instead of setting a resolution, you could try setting an intention. You might get better results.

The first step is to clarify that intention. Ask yourself what you want to cultivate in your life.  Instead of telling yourself, “I want to lose 10 pounds,” your intention might be “I want to have a healthier relationship with my weight.”  While the first approach is about sacrifice and depends on self-control, the second is based on acceptance. Yes, you still have to put in the work, but it’s coming from a very different mental place.

Intention is purposeful. When you have an intention, you have a goal you are working towards, but you also have a certain attitude about the process of getting there.  Intention has meaning. It sustains the underlying significance of where you’re trying to go.  Intention is aware and mindful.

Last but not least, intention requires commitment. It demands a certain level of follow-through from the intention setter.  Intention demands that we direct our attention to where we are now, where we are trying to go, and how we are going to get there.  This attention is held throughout the process, which is important for staying aware of what changes you may need to make along your journey. You cannot control external events, only your reaction to them. Be flexible with your intentions, and adjust them accordingly, knowing that as you move along your path, you must be continuously re-designing your intentions.

So while goal setting is helpful, setting intentions is EMPOWERING!

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