A lot of people make New Year’s resolutions with good intentions. They stick to their resolutions for a couple of days or maybe weeks, and then they start to fade away as old habits creep back in and as life returns back to “normal.” Most of us can probably remember at least one time they have done this. I personally, remember multiple resolutions about working out more, drinking more water, eating healthier, reading more, etc.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with setting resolutions. However, I do think a problem arises when we set resolutions without any clarity or intention behind them. Then we don’t stick with them and feel like a failure. The more we follow this process, the more it becomes a habit in itself and reinforces the idea that we are not able to attain the things we set out to do. Then, maybe, we decide not to set resolutions at all.
The beginning of a new year is a great time to reflect on the past year and set intentions for the upcoming one. But the truth is, every single day is a new opportunity to reflect and make changes accordingly. Adopting this view makes it a lot easier to continue working toward your goals because you focus more on the practice and the process than a finished result.
Working to align your energy with your intentions is the practice that helps set you up for success by creating an internal environment that makes room for and attracts the things that you want. Through my experiences in yoga teacher training, workshops and other studies, I’ve learned some super helpful and powerful exercises that have helped me get in the right mindset for doing the work that needed to be done in order to achieve my goals.
3 Exercises To Align Your Energy with Your Intentions
Self reflection, known as Svadyaya in the Kriya yoga practice, is learning more about yourself, noticing your current habits, patterns and behaviors, recognizing your potential and becoming inspired. This is an essential part of goal setting, because it helps us understand why things are currently the way they are and what our motivations are for creating a change. There are many forms of self reflection. Anything from reading spiritual and inspirational texts, maintaining a yoga practice, using mantras and meditation, journaling, recognizing ourselves through our relationships with others, etc.
A form of self reflection that I have found helpful is to keep a gratitude journal. Each night, I write down three things I’m grateful for. I find that this activity helps cultivate more joy and mindfullness. It also works as a reflection tool because it reminds me of why I’m working toward certain goals. For example, my business goals are aimed at creating more success and making money. But I know that my true reason for these goals is so that I can live comfortably, with lower stress and be able to enjoy my life with my family.
Before bed tonight, grab a journal or simply a piece of paper and write down three things you are grateful for. Ask yourself how these tie into your goals and intentions.
I learned about the concept of Bhavana during yoga teacher training and it was one of the most interesting topics to me. Bhavana means “to cultivate” or “to call into existence.” Another definition I learned for Bhavana which I particularly love is “to remember the future.” It is essentially visualizing in detail the things that you want.
Seeing what you want in your mind’s eye helps to create more clarity around your goals and aligns your energy with how you want to feel. Changing your energy to line up with where you want to go makes it easier to take the actions necessary in order to get there.
I use this a lot when trying to stay active. Sometimes I get caught up in work or just feel too lazy to get outside for a run or go to yoga. But when I visualize myself as fit and active person, I noticed that I start to want to participate in those activities. I look forward to exercising because I enjoy the feeling of being fit and active.
Come to a comfortable seated position such as crossed-legged(Sukhasana) or kneeling with a block beneath your hips(Virasana/Hero’s Pose). Close your eyes and take a few un-rushed, deep breaths. Then imagine that you have achieved whatever goal you are working toward. Bring to your mind what life looks like now that you have reached your goal. Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? How do you feel? What are you wearing? The more details you can conjure up, the better. Remember that there is no right or wrong. This activity is not about figuring out how to achieve your goal. It’s purpose is to cultivate it into existence, so to speak, by creating that energy in the current moment.
Here’s an example: If your goal is to eat a healthier diet, then imagine yourself a year down the road. Perhaps your doctor tells you that your cholesterol levels are doing great. Maybe you’re fitting into a smaller size pants. Perhaps you can finally join a friend in a more challenging fitness class you’ve been wanting to try because you’re more fit now. You feel vital, empowered, capable, strong, more connected with your friends, etc.
Do this visualization activity as often as you need, with as many different goals as you might have. Use this activity to help gain clarity about why you are working towards your goals and to regain focus when you start to feel like you’re losing your way.
Further exploration: I recommend the book Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain to learn more about visualization. The book also provides more meditations and exercises.
Affirmations are positive statements, or mantras, that we say to ourselves. These statements are used to align our energy to feel more positive and to feel capable of living in a way that sets us up for success. Repeating affirmations to ourselves brings positive images to our minds that result in a more positive energy and affects our habits and actions. Similarly to my example for the visualization exercise, I use affirmations to acknowledge my desire and ability to live an active lifestyle. Statements such as “I enjoy being active” or “I make physical activity a priority” help to align my energy to create the habits that are necessary for me to achieve my goal of being physically in shape.
Write down at least five affirmations that align your energy with your intentions. You can find affirmations online or make them up yourself. They don’t necessarily have to be associated with a particular goal. They can be associated with general wellbeing, how you relate to others or working on shifting your perspective. Place your affirmations in a place that you will see often such as your bathroom mirror or your purse. Repeat them as often as possible. Set a reminder on my calendar if you have to. Just remember to return to your affirmations frequently.
Further exploration: I love the Own Your Awesome Affirmation Deck from Your Joyologist. I keep them on my desk and draw a new one each day. I place the affirmation cards that resonate with me the most throughout the house so that I read them on a regular basis.