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  • Writer's pictureH.D. Lee

The Art of Setting New Year’s Resolutions


Photo credits: Thaï Ch. Hamelin / ChokdiDesign, Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar, Burma. [thai-ch-hamelin-chokdidesign-8CJYWndKm0g-unsplash]


It is the 13th day of 2023 already. You may or may not have set your resolutions for the new year. Worry not, we are technically still a week before the Chinese New Year, which begins on January 20th. So, how about an effective way to set your resolutions for the new year? Here are six steps for how I recommend you do it.


Step 1: Choose aims that are worthy of your effort.

Step 2: Understanding the difference between aims and actions.

Step 3: Understanding the importance of intentions

Step 4: Choose one or two aims to focus on. Not more.

Step 5: Write down your aims & intentions in a designated notebook

Step 6: Dedicate 21 days to deepen your connection to your aims


Let us look together at each of the steps outlined more closely.



Step 1: Choose aims that are worthy of your effort.


A lot can be said about this. People, myself included, sometimes choose aims which are not grounded in something deep and strong. In other words, you and I may sometimes set aims that are shallow and can be uprooted easily. If it just so happens that these aims require a fair amount of effort, then your chance of realizing them are quite slim.


To ensure a worthwhile aim means you consider (1) why you want it, (2) what you are willing to do for it, (3) what it would mean if you do not get it. The level of intensity in your response to these three questions should be high for this aim to have any focusing power. That is, if the aim you are considering do not elicit an overwhelming motivation due to its desirability, and its absence does not elicit a high level of mental or spiritual suffering, then this aim is not powerful enough. It may be that you have not understood the importance of this aim. Or, it may just be that this aim is not really that relevant for what you truly care about. Become aware of what it is you really care about and give that your full attention so you may cultivate the power of that aim.




Step 2: Understanding the difference between aims and actions.


Oh it sounds so simple. So why do people confuse the two things? No blame and no judgment here. Actions are very concrete and graspable. Maybe this is why people gravitate towards “actions” they want to implement and sometimes forget about the aims they have that brought about the desire for their actions in the first place.


For example, I might have the aim or goal of exercising for an hour three times a week. But this is really an action for arriving at the desired result of having a healthy body. In some ways, the action itself is more concrete than the desired result. It is my job (and yours) to translate our aims into something that can be understood, and arrived at, in a concrete manner. When you understand the difference between aims and action, you have options for how you will get from point A to point B. You are more powerful when you have ten options for arriving at your destination, rather than lock yourself into one option which may not be viable sometimes. For example, how else might you attain a healthy body if you were temporarily injured and could not exercise?




Step 3: Understanding the importance of intentions


Intention is the primary direction and result you want as the aim itself is satisfactorily achieved. There are multiple levels of intentions. The higher you can go, the more power you will activate within you and around you for the benefit of achieving your aims.


For example, my aim might be that I want a healthy, fit, and strong body. My intention for having this aim might be that I want to be give fully to my work, my family, and my life. A higher level intention above the one just stated might be that if I can give fully to my work, my family, and my life, then I would be able to leave a legacy I can be proud of.


The higher you can go in your intentions, the more strength you are lending to your ability to accomplish your aims. This is provided that these intentions truly come from a certain depth within you. The last person you should try to fool is yourself. Go deep within in order to go high above. Going high above means you will be drawing from a larger reservoir of motivation.




Step 4: Choose one or two aims to focus on. Not more.


Those of us who are buoyed by ambition can sometimes make the mistake of choosing too many things to work on. It might feel good at the moment of goal setting, but the labor required as a consequence can be too much ! Frustration, self-doubt, self-blame, and all kinds of emotions and thoughts you don’t necessarily want will be vying for your attention. It is probably best to only deal with these things when you have to, but don’t set yourself up for it.


The benefit of focusing only one or two aims for the new year probably is self-explanatory, but I will step in and be that “self” for a moment. Whilst it is possible to raise our level of energy to a tremendously high level and sustain it for many months and even years, most of us have not learned how to do that. This means we must work with the level of energy we have each day. Channeling our energy into one or two goals is going to be easier than dispersing our energy in the eight directions of the wind. This should be obvious. Yet, I personally have made this mistake over and over again. So, how well are you able to focus has a lot to do with how quickly you will be able to get there. While focus itself is an acquired practice that comes from a disciplined mind and healthy body, you can make it easier for yourself by having just one or two goals to focus on.




Step 5: Write down your aims & intentions in a designated notebook


What do you do when you honor something? I usually treat the things and people I love with honor and care. My piano, for example, is something I try to keep spotless while the rest of my furniture often gathers dust. I am guessing you probably also care for and honor the things and people who are important to you.


Would you consider your aims and resolutions important? If so, would there be a reason to not honor them? This slight shift in awareness can make the difference in whether or not your aims are accomplished in due time. Take proper time to write down your aims in a notebook that is designated for all things sacred to you. Use a notebook that is nicely designed. Use a good pen to write down your aims. Write thoughtfully and without hurry. Practice good penmanship while you write. Something sacred transpires as you shift into a space of reverence and sincerity.


As you write down your aims, also write down the intentions which are the context from which your aims have been born. Your intentions become conscious as you write them down. This is the essential ingredient as far as I am concerned, because intentions which are unconscious still have power over you. The difference is you are not aware of what is directing your actions while you may well be going in the wrong direction.


People sometimes choose goal as a way to please a partner or a parent. People might also choose a goal that is expressly too difficult to accomplish as a way to show themselves that they are powerless. People have all kinds of intentions you wouldn’t think they would have. The reason why these intentions can even exist is because they are unconscious. Once you bring the light of awareness to them, that is when you are able to replace “bad” intentions” with “good” ones.




Step 6: Dedicate 21 days to deepen your connection to your aims


The deeper the connection, the easier it is for you to stay on track. This connection is deepened by your daily review of what you have written in your notebook, and reading what you have written out loud (or at least silently) for twenty-one consecutive days.


Do something everyday related to your aims. Go for at least 3 things. If you are ambitious, do 5 things. But don’t let a day go by without doing something related to your aims. Doing even just one thing a day for your aims is a success worth nursing.



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