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Intentions, New beginnings and Accountability

Intentions, New beginnings and Accountability

Charlotte Willis

For this month’s contemplation with Charlotte, we explore the act of setting intentions, realistic new beginnings and keeping yourself accountable.

Contrary to your preconceived thoughts on what this short essay might entail, I’d like to premise, dear reader, that if there’s one thing I completely, utterly, entirely and wholeheartedly despise, it’s the making of a New Year’s resolution. Urgh.

“What one does is what counts. Not what one had the intention of doing.” – Pablo Picasso.

Every year, we make promises to ourselves on January 1st to do more, go further, get better and improve ourselves, all of which we seldom hold ourselves accountable to. We promise that this year will be our year to get healthier, stop weekday wine and give up dairy, only to leave such promises on the shelf come February. But before you reconcile yourself as a lost cause, let’s talk about intentions and new beginnings.

What many of us fail to realise is that intention setting is for life, not just for the New Year. Intentions shape long-term habits by positively biasing our thoughts and actions throughout the day. But in order for intentions to be meaningful, you need first to realise their significance over your inner psychology and work with your intentions by holding yourself accountable.

What is an intention?

Intentions go further and deeper than face-value goals. Rather, intentions help us work on the particular areas of our lives which we want to evolve, alter or re-think in order to better our sense of self. Intentions work to heighten our awareness of the mind-behaviour connection and are process-based rather than achievement-orientated.

For example, being promoted is an aspirational goal, whilst working with more focus is an intention which will aid in the achievement of your goal.

So, where to begin?

First, think of thought processes, behaviours or actions you’d like to change. Perhaps you want to end your day feeling more accomplished or joyful? Or maybe you would like to be more in-tune with your emotions? A little more open and trusting with others? All brilliant places to begin.

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Next, you’ll want to set aside some time and space to create your intentions. Use five minutes every morning before you start your day to journal a single intention for which you are accountable for today. This should be written in first person, such as “I will take time to focus on moments of joy” and “I’ll listen wholeheartedly and respond with greater depth”. Reflect on how you might manifest this intention throughout the day, alongside associated emotions, thoughts and actions.

Take time to reflect

Take time to periodically remind yourself of your intention during your day. This will re-affirm your intention and adjust your mindset, whilst holding yourself accountable and encouraging new behaviours. At the end of every day, use your journal to reflect on your success or struggles to fulfil your intention. What could you improve, where did you feel challenged and what have you learnt?

Manifesting intentions and getting used to setting them will take time and practice, but once you begin to realise the impact of intentions in forming habits, you’ll never again need a New Year’s Resolution.

Read Charlotte’s other work here.

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