Many of you this evening are no doubt at least considering a New Year’s resolution of two. But before you do, however, I want to warn you that the term resolution has a pretty hard edge to it. The dictionary repeatedly uses the term “firm” as in a resolution is “to decide firmly on a course of action” or “a firm decision to do or not do something.” Given the uncertainty of the times I’ve decided to opt a step down from making any firm decision these days, never mind compromising my integrity with a New Year’s resolution with a firm commitment that I am most likely to forget or ignore.
So I’m going with New Year’s “intentions.” Intentions are actually not only easier to remember, but they are helpful. I like the idea proposed by my dictionary that an intention "is a seed planted in the depth of consciousness, that when released, will be encouraged to grow and even flourish." So if I intend to loose weight or exercise more, I plant a seed somewhere in my consciousness that I actually have a plan, that with a little conscious or subconscious (guilt) coaching, I have a good chance of implementing it. My intentions are more friendly and more acceptable to my oh-so vulnerable - but coachable! - preferences to stick with old habits because they are more familiar and less challenging.
And intentions are not as susceptible to being held too accountable. They don’t lend themselves as vulnerable to “gotcha” moments when I put that extra scoop of ice cream in the bowl and that "seed of intention” about weight loss I’ve been fostering reminds me I’m not being very faithful to my intentions. And I can just say, I never made any firm commitment about not eating a second scoop of ice cream, but only an intention to at least think about it. My "intention plea" thus offers a softer landing for any sneaky guilty conscious.
But making intentions for the new year is indeed a good start. Your "seed of intention" isn’t ever going to grow unless it is planted. So get out a nice piece of (preferably) brightly colored paper and write out a well-meaning list of intentions about improving your health, welfare and relationships for the coming year. Title the paper “Intentions Only.” Now put it somewhere in your desk where it will keep popping up every week or so. Check it out. If you are being virtuously steadfast in keeping your intentions, you can take a little pleased bow. If you’re not doing so well, just say “They were only intentions.”
Whatever your New Year's intentions and their successful implementation, may you have a fulfilling and consequential 2023. (And, yes, I intend to keep writing my Saturday Evening Posts, but if I don’t have the gumption on any given Saturday evening, I’ll know just how to excuse myself.)