Iit’s that time of year when people make their New Year’s resolutions.
One wide ranging study found that almost 90% of people break New Year’s resolutions within days or weeks. What’s more significant is that research consistently shows that those who do make resolutions are more successful in creating what they want than those who don’t.
Taken together, these statistics add up to a picture of poor creative skills, with the vast majority of people failing to create what they want through resolution.
If you’re looking for a better way, you’ll find it in creative intention.
So what’s the difference?
Among other attributes, creative intention:
- ACCENTUATES THE POSITIVE: New year’s resolutions are often framed as negative injunctions (“I’m going to stop wasting time on Facebook”) and based on self-judgements and criticism (“I’m a lazy good-for-nothing who can’t focus”). Creative Intention is framed as a positive proposal, an opening to something you’d enjoy. (“I’d love to see this book published in 2014.”)
- SELECTS HIGH VALUE PRIORITIES: New Year’s resolutions usually come in a list, wanting to “fix” everything that’s wrong with us. Creative Intention recognises that we can have anything we want only when we accept that we can’t have everything we want. It sets intention within the framework of truest values and highest priorities and selects.
- ACKNOWLEDGES THE UNCONSCIOUS: New year’s resolutions harness the conscious will only. Creative Intention not only understands that human behaviour is also driven by unconscious impulses — but values the workings of the unconscious mind, mysterious as it might be, acknowledging that intuition and inspiration can often take us further than will alone. This will translate into action: moodling, naps, meditation, exercise, F-R-E-E-Writing and other practices that feed the unconscious.
- HARNESSES THE IMAGINATION:“Imagination is more important than knowledge,” Albert Einstein rightly said. “For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Research from University of Chicago has shown that athletes who visualise their progress can get similar results as those who physically practice. Visualization activates new neural pathways in the brain and makes creation happen. Access the power of your imagination for the process, as well as the content, of your work.
- ACCEPTS THINGS AS THEY ARE: New year’s resolutions see you as flawed, in need of fixing, and the motivation for change is shame and guilt. Creative Intention recognizes that you are good enough as you are, that your desires and wants are there to lead you to what you most need to know. “Instead of coming from a place of judgment and pressure, come from a place of curiosity and meaning,” says Randy Taran, founder of Project Happiness. “[Ask] ‘What would it be like if… This matters because…’ Instead of making lofty and long-term goals that are not sustainable, set up some baby steps which allow you to feel good about being in the process of moving forward. Focus on something for a month or two. Some research says it takes 21 days to change a habit, some suggests 66 is the magic number. The point is, you get better at whatever you practice.”
- UNDERWRITES A PLAN: New year’s resolutions are vague, as if they will happen in a vacuum, (“I’m going to write a book.”). The core of creative intention is attention directed into a where-and-when plan. (“I’m setting up a desk in the back room so I can write 500 words a day before I go to work on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.”).
- STAYS FLEXIBLE: New year’s resolutions are determined and fixed, aiming to control and contain your behaviour. Creative intention focusses on expressing your deepest self and recognises that creation is a process of surrender, not control.
- ENJOYS THE JOURNEY: It’s possible to treat the present moment as if it’s an obstacle we need to overcome on the way to getting the book written (or published or sold). It’s also possible to write, publish and sell books while completely aligning with the present moment, with whatever life is presenting as the task to do right now. Our tasks then cease to be primarily a means to an end, and become an opening through which creative consciousness can flow. In his book A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle speaks of this creative consciousness as “awakened doing” and says that it has three modalities: acceptance, enjoyment, and enthusiasm. “If there is not acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm in what you do, you are out of alignment,” he says. “You are creating unhappiness.”
- IS IN FOR THE LONG HAUL: “New Year’s Resolutions go in one year and out another” said Oscar Wilde. A creative intention is held in place until it is fulfilled or the desire no longer exists.
Do you make resolutions? What are your creative intentions in 2014?