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January - Resolution vs Intention

A lot of people have asked me if I had any New Year's resolutions which in previous years would have prompted me to think about some with a sense of urgency. Often, I'd be really motivated for a while and trailing off slowly until I just couldn't sustain this new regime I had set myself.


Formulating and talking about New Years resolutions is such an interesting tradition in societies in many parts of the world. It dates back to ancient times as part of agricultural societies, where people often found a similar resolution to return borrowed farming equipment to the rightful owner. Sensible!


In 46 B.C. the 1st of January was declared the start of a new year by the ancient Romans. The name January derives from the Roman God Janus. He gets depicted as having two faces, one looking forward to new beginnings while the other looks back to reflect and make resolutions. In Roman mythology Janus is regarded as the God of doorways, passage, beginnings, transitions and endings.


The word resolution gets defined in the dictionary presently as 'a firm decision to do or not to do something'. That sounds scary to me and I wonder if this might have been the reason why I couldn't sustain whatever personal 'improvement' I thought I needed.


Reflecting on origin of tradition often gives me a sense of clarity. It can shock me how old some traditions are and what they were meant for and started by whom and why? It makes me wonder if some of these traditions, like making New Year resolutions, are helpful for me, now, in my everyday life. Can I drop them altogether or adapt these deep rooted societal traditions into a kinder version for myself?


I hear and read the word intention mentioned more and more in relation to change and it has a kindness to it for me, it feels inviting. It defines as 'a thing indented; an aim or a plan'. This makes me wonder if I want to restrict myself to making just New Year Intentions or if I can start a new intention, however big or small, for any time of the year.


I love a good quote and this one by Lao Tzu came to mind.

'New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings'

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