Resolutions Versus Intentions
Last updated: April 2023
Years ago I would spend the months before New Year's Day trying to come up with a resolution or two that would help improve the quality of my life for the following year. Making New Year's resolutions was a family tradition. We would write these resolutions and put the slips of paper in jar to be re-examined the following New Year's Eve. How well did I do?
My resolutions were generally lofty and difficult to achieve. I would start out strong, but learning a foreign language or gaining 10 pounds always became daunting and I gave up. The effect was the opposite of what was intended and I was just disappointed in myself when I would give up.
When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s almost 3 years ago I knew things needed to change to get me back to a more positive frame of mind. So much in my life had to be readjusted and approached from a different perspective. Sheer fatigue kept me from setting unreasonable goals and would result in apathy out of frustration.
Setting a weekly intention
I had been doing a lot of reading on mindful meditation and journaling. I came up with what I thought might be a solution. I decided to try a different approach - rather than set wide range goals, I would approach things from a simpler angle. Each week I would set an intention to last a short time, sometimes just a week. These would be easy to do and become more challenging with time.
I began by making a list of things I wanted to improve to make my life more manageable and positive. My first intention was to smile at everyone I saw for a week. It was amazingly easy and set the mood for the day as I already kept a gratitude journal. It’s second nature to me now.
Improving quality of life
My next intention was to write or call a different friend once a month to tell them what they have meant to me. I find this to be rewarding and look forward to it. The surprised responses have renewed many old acquaintances which helps with staying social when that is not always easy.
I’ve added the intention of doing something creative each day and learning new crafts as well as keeping an art journal.
I won’t list all the intentions I’ve accomplished, some more successfully than others, but my quality of life has certainly improved over this past year. I have no room for negativity or apathy.
A new outlook
Carving out a new path to keep life at its best has been a true challenge, but surprisingly each intention, from mindfulness to learning a new skill, has become a permanent part of my day. I now have a routine that is satisfying and has replaced the dread of impossible resolutions.
When I was making resolutions I felt it was an expectation and didn’t approach it with much enthusiasm knowing I would usually fail give up after a month or so. Setting short term intentions has assured my success which is so gratifying when Parkinson’s, with its many challenges, is involved. Quality of life is what matters most and my whole family benefits from my new outlook.
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