“Intention lines the pages of our great stories, but action impels their thick binding.”
I have heard people say that we shouldn’t wait until New Years Day to set new intentions (ie. Resolutions), that we should be acting in every moment to create ourselves into who we desire to be. This sounds like the sort of statement that would be hard for me not to agree with, but there’s something special about a new year that makes me pull away from doing so, at least in this moment of time. It’s not the astrological significance, the numerical imminence, or the turning of the final calendar page. It’s that we all share the common denominator of setting these intentions together.
Most people I have met are unaware of how powerful setting intentions can be in your everyday life; how powerful it is to create and control your thoughts thereby reclaiming your authority over your experience of reality. Some have found it in the wisdom of books/videos like “the Secret” (personally, I’ve never read or watched it), while others have made dreams happen based out of sheer willpower and focus of thought, no mind manipulation needed. To me, it is the power behind prayer, a powerful act that has intrigued me since childhood as I grew up with no overt religion in my house, and simply a curious young mind to the diversity of faith around me in East Side San Jose.
It is tradition to set New Years Resolutions for oneself, and/or as a pact to friends and family. In this social media age, we often fire off these resolutions into the electronic abyss of the digital social sphere we indulge, receiving likes and comments from friends and strangers (and friends who feel like strangers and strangers who feel like friends). Each comment is normally positive and encouraging, as it is rare to find the honest cynic on these public forums. But as it is said, when you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you.
Despite twisting Nietzshe’s phrase a little, it is interesting to ask what do our resolutions say about us. They say we desire to change–that a part of us knows that our individual destiny does not include repeating the same mistakes for eternity. They say that we believe that with a new year comes a new us, a recycling of the self at the turning of the world.
Famously however, resolutions are often failed, and never completed to their end. Richard Wiseman’s study in 2007 says that 88% of us fail to achieve our lofty goals. He argues that cognitive overload occurs within the brain as people set vague and extremely high expectations (lose weight, quit smoking, get buff, etc.), and the brain cannot handle these new demands on its habits and operational functions. It is the equivalent of taking on a bench press of double your weight without having lifted weights at all in the past or at least for quite a while. His advice for those interested is to create short term goals to meet that will eventually form into habits–such as smoking one or two cigarettes a day, losing a pound a week from exercise, going to the gym two times a week, etc.
This is where intention and action become critical in changing your reality. Does saying your resolution/intention out loud to yourself and writing it down help make it real? Maybe. Does announcing it online increase its likeliness of becoming a reality? Some would say no. Does believing in its inevitable fruition with 100% of your being make it more likely to happen? To my experience 99.9% of the time, Yes.
But what is it that makes New Years so powerful, that, at least around Dec-Jan, I would encourage myself and others to embark on setting intentions and outlining actions? It is that the energy of hundreds of millions around the world are compounding on a single window of time to create change and self-improve. That we and our friends and family may hold each other accountable and share in the challenge together. The pain, sweat, sacrifice can be shared, whether it be hours worth of training or a short conversation on a better decision you made that day. Set realistic, short-term, specific goals and celebrate each moment of anguish and victory on the long road–the yellow bricks of which you lay after every step on your way to Oz.
It is easy to succumb to the demons of self-doubt and denying to ourselves how powerful the infinite beings we are can be. I’ve been doing it my whole conscious life. And my ability at self-sabotage is the topic of laughter in the best of times and quiet rumination in the darkest. But as a person who’s done much of his growing alone, on lone backpack trips across the world or head deep in books at university, it was always the return to the great people I’ve been able to keep around my core (or within the proximate periphery) that set my balance as it should be.
*aside* I have a tendency to isolate myself (I’m an Aquarius-Pisces cusp, kinda written in my code) which as you can relate to or guess at, is a double edged sword, but I will always cherish my friends, crews, teachers, and family for the greatness they have bestowed upon me by simply being there for me when I do muster the courage to speak on that which truly matters.
Great stories have great characters, the main of which is you. Set your intentions, line up your actions, and have faith that you will see it through. Intention lines the pages of our great stories, but action impels their thick binding. May your pages be many and your ink set deep.