It’s that time of year when everyone is talking about New Year’s resolutions. But how many times have you set a New Year’s resolution you actually kept until the end of the year?
If you’re like most people, only 10% of us successfully stick to our New Year’s resolutions. Multiple psychological studies suggest that New Year’s resolutions don’t really work.
So this year, why not try something that actually works? Set some New Year’s intentions instead of resolutions.
The Difference Between a Resolution and an Intention
A resolution is a statement to change something you want to fix about yourself or your lifestyle. As a result, resolutions tend to inspire negative thoughts about your current situation.
On the other hand, an intention is more focused on creating abundance in your life. An intention does not imply something is wrong with the way you currently live, but instead, it motivates you to live even better.
When you set an intention, you approach your goals with more compassion for yourself. As a result, you feel less pressured to create change and more inspired to take action.
An intention is something to live by that you can carry with you throughout the year. When you set an intention, you choose to live more mindfully and open to new outcomes.
In order to set some intentions for the New Year, I encourage you to reflect on how your life unfolded this year, especially in the context of your role as a grandma. What brought you the greatest joy? What do you wish you could do over? Who and what are you grateful for?
Take some quiet time to sit and think about what you want to cultivate in your life as a grandma. Write down your thoughts and then form them into positive affirmations or “I statements.” I offer you eight of my own intentions as examples.
8 Positive Intentions
I take care of myself. If you’re like most grandmas, life revolves around your precious grandchildren. You want to help your children any way you can, sometimes at the sacrifice of your own care. Remember the old adage to put on your own oxygen mask before the child sitting next to you. If you don’t replenish yourself, you won’t be of benefit to anyone else. Whether you soak in a bath, take a walk in the woods, read a good book, have coffee with a friend, or binge-watch your favorite show, make sure you take some time for yourself.
I show empathy. The most important lesson I’ve learned in my 19 years as a grandma is to have empathy for my grandchildren’s parents. Pay attention to and verbally acknowledge their hard work. Appreciate them and try to understand all that they face as modern parents. They don’t want our advice or solutions; they want us to hear what they’re saying and feel what they’re experiencing. Just saying “that must be hard for you” can be a magical phrase to a stressed-out mom or dad.
I love to learn. Learning new skills not only makes you more interesting but also keeps your brain sharp. It’s especially good if you can learn something your grandchild will be interested in too, for example, technology or social media.
I find ways to build mutual respect and trust. This is the foundation of all satisfying relationships and takes conscious effort. Adult children have the right to make their own decisions and be who they are. They’re leading their own lives and sometimes we just have to swallow it and respect who they are without judgment or comment. It doesn’t mean we have to agree or embrace their way. We have to trust them to know what they’re doing. And they owe us the same respect. If we make an effort in that direction, we’ll all have a better time together and a lot more fun. It will keep life surprising and interesting and keep our minds open.
I am honest and apologize when I’ve made a mistake. Think through your feelings before you express them. Remember that words can have a lasting impact and we want them to be positive. When you’ve made a mistake, offer a sincere apology: “I’m truly sorry; I regret what I said or did and I won’t do it again. I understand you need time to think about it.”
I remember to have self-compassion. If you can have compassion for yourself, you’ll find more compassion for others. Kristin Neff, Ph.D. is a pioneer in the study of self-compassion. She was the first one to define and measure the concept almost twenty years ago. Self-compassion is simply the process of turning compassion inward. We are kind and understanding rather than harshly self-critical when we fail, make mistakes, or feel inadequate. We give ourselves support and encouragement rather than being cold and judgmental when challenges and difficulties arise in our lives. Research indicates that self-compassion is one of the most powerful sources of coping and resilience we have available to us, radically improving our mental and physical well-being.
I curb my insecurity and competitive urges. It’s normal to feel a little rivalry for our grandchildren’s affection. When you start to feel competitive with the “Other Grandmother,” remind yourself that jealousy and competition not only destroy relationships but damage your own self-esteem. Take the high road for the sake of your children, grandchildren, and most importantly, yourself. Our grandchildren thrive when they have lots of grandparents who love them.
I let go of worry and feel the love. This last intention is a big one and comes from one author, Barbara Graham. Her anthology, Eye of My Heart: 27 Writers Reveal the Hidden Pleasures and Perils of Being a Grandmother, is my favorite grandparent book. She says we need to retrain our grandparent brain. For starters, we must remind ourselves that most children grow up just fine. Most importantly, worrying has no benefits for anyone – least of all ourselves. So, to paraphrase a Welsh proverb, I resolve to bask in the perfect love of my granddaughters – and to stop following in the footsteps of Grandpa Simpson, who once proclaimed, “The good Lord lets us grow old for a reason – to gain the wisdom to find fault with everything…”