New Year's Intentions: Conscious Living

For the past few New Years, I have always set Resolutions. But this year, I'm creating Intentions for myself instead. The difference I understand is that resolutions imply a problem needing fixed, whereas intentions invite a more positive outlook of growth.

For example, Jen at Aim Happy writes:

"The resolution to lose weight is based on dissatisfaction with self, which feels like sacrifice and depends on self-control. [Whereas] The intention to have a healthy relationship with your weight is based on ... acceptance (love), from which positive change feels natural."

I feel over the past year I have achieved a healthier balance of accepting and embracing myself as I am now whilst simultaneously working towards improving myself. And I think intentions greatly support this mindset.

Intentions direct the mind and give us purpose.

Joan Hyman suggests writing out which actions you can take daily that will make your life more fulfilling. She asks us to think about what we currently enjoy in our lives, what we'd like more of, what gives us energy and joy, and to consider where we can make positive changes if certain things aren't going as we'd like.

Intentions help us appreciate and live in the present. Unlike goals, they do not have one measurable or specific outcome. Intentions give us purpose, and allow us to embrace ourselves with every action we take which aligns with our intentions, no matter how big or small.

Unlike when setting goals, we ignore milestones, the definite, and deadlines. We simply are content in the knowledge that our intentions will guide us in our daily actions, and that by doing so, we will continue to be the person we want to be and create the difference in the world we desire. We enjoy the uncertainty of the future - if everything was set in stone and planned out to the very second, life would be boring wouldn't it? Trust that by following your intentions, you will follow a fulfilling path with many good things and surprises along the way.

As a white cisgender woman living in the UK, I am aware I am in a very privileged situation in the world, and with that privilege I believe comes responsibility to make a positive impact on the world.

My intention for 2019 is to live consciously. I will do this by slowing down, listening to my body and mind's needs, staying curious, giving myself purpose and having a positive impact on the world.

"Living a conscious life means you're actively evaluating your activities, decisions and options. You're making deliberate choices based on your values and your truth." - Vishnu via Steven Aitchison

I will evaluate myself and my surroundings in order to make decisions for myself, motivated by my personal values and beliefs, whilst taking my surroundings into consideration. I will not necessarily listen solely to tradition, my peers or society, but will question the status quo when necessary, and embrace the status quo when I believe it does align with my personal beliefs and values and can benefit society.

How do I plan on achieving this and living this way?

Doing work that is in tune with my being
I currently work freelance for a few small businesses, some of which have very clear ethical values, but all of which are owned by good people I genuinely get on with, who have creative, ambitious and kind-hearted personalities. I'm unsure this will be my permanent career, but for now, I'm very happy with the work I am doing and the people I am working with. Knowing I am helping others gives me purpose.

Doing exercise I enjoy, in response to how my body feels
If you've known me for a while, you'll know I used to despise exercise. But in the past couple of years I've found a genuine joy for the gym and the physical and mental benefits it gives me. While I'd love to consistently gym 4 or 5 times per week, I've learnt this isn't always realistic - and that that's okay. I want to have a healthy relationship between my mind and body. So, this year, I'm going to listen to what my body needs, and create a workout program that meets these changing needs.

Shopping and living more sustainably and ethically
The fashion industry has been shown to be the second-most polluting industry in the world. As I am a student of fashion and often post about fashion, I feel I have a responsibility to help create change in consumerism and overconsumption in the industry. This is why my dissertation is focusing on sustainable fashion solutions in Scotland. Whether the change focuses on zero-waste practices, shopping for less, encouraging people to buy from local and ethical brands when they do wish to buy or another multitude of ways, I want to try my best to support the planet and raise awareness.

Continuing to increase vegan and plant-based meals in my vegetarian diet
I believe one way for me to greatly reduce my environmental impact is through my diet. I became vegetarian in February 2018, and since then have tried my best to eat a vegan diet whenever possible. I am very against the 'all-or-nothing' approach advocated by some (but not all) vegans and believed by many omnivores and vegetarians. I believe we should all make gradual changes that are achievable for us so that we still enjoy food and don't feel guilt or shame. So look out for more vegan posts this year as I increase my plant intake, but possibly still eat the occasional chocolate or mac n cheese meal - with no guilt knowing I am doing my best and still making a difference.

Seeking out opportunities and information which align with my values
I love growing and learning. I plan to stay curious by continuing to have an open mind, discovering new people and knowledge, reading more, reading more books, travelling to new places, connecting with inspiring people online and offline, and whatever else I think of along the way. I want to have enriching experiences that bring me joy and let me grow. I want to meet even more incredible people that motivate me to push myself even further than before.

Sharing what I discover to raise awareness and help others
In today's society, where social media allows us access to the whole world, it is easier than ever before to raise awareness of what you believe in and are passionate about. Social media can affect our mental health negatively, so I'd like to create a safe space online of positivity, inspiration and motivation, regarding how we can each make a positive impact on the world in various ways. The areas I am particularly interested in just now are eating vegan, fitness for physical and mental health, and sustainability in fashion and elsewhere - so look out for these topics very shortly.

Spending more time alone
Not lonely, just alone. I want to slow down. I want to have more nights in than out and I want to drink less often and drink less when I do drink. I want to take my time with activities I enjoy. I want to continue to learn to enjoy spending time with myself. I want to get to know myself better, and learn what I do value and what I do want in life. I want to slow down and be content with my own company, and not need validation and acknowledgement from others. I want to breathe more slowly, rest when I need to, and genuinely look forward to a night in alone. Not lonely, just alone.

Praising progress, not perfection
I want to not only accept myself and where I am, but embrace myself - every day. I don't want to feel like I'm underachieving, or that I'm constantly waiting for a specific milestone to be reached for me to feel happy about myself. I plan on doing this by being kinder to myself, and know that I am trying my best. And I will know I am doing my best by reminding myself of and following my intentions.

I hope you are as excited or at least as curious about conscious living as I am. I'll leave you with some links (articles and videos) for further research as well as this final reminder by Joan on the difference between resolutions and intentions:

"Intentions are not goals.  Goals put pressure on us and have an external outcome. Intentions align us with our purpose." - Joan Hyman via Wanderlust


Further Reading/Watching on Intentions and Conscious Living:

This piece by Joan Hyman is one that really got me excited about the possibilities of conscious living and setting New Year's Intentions, and is a fantastic inspiring starting point.

This Ted Talk on Conscious Living by Emily Gallagher only has 754 views at time of writing, but there are a lot of points I agree with, so definitely worth a watch, even if you don't agree with everything.

Jen at Aim Happy provides guidance on setting positive New Year's Intentions as well as providing some examples to get you started.

This video by Naginya speaks about small and bigger ways to reduce your environmental impact on the world by making conscious decisions.

Wee Peng Ho at The Conscious Life explains 10 reasons to and benefits of living consciously if you need some motivation.

Vishnu via Steven Aitchison goes into detail about 21 ways you can live a more conscious life.


Let me know what you think about conscious living below in the comments (if they are working - I'll get this checked out) or over on my Instagram @copperpink!

And Happy New Year for 2019! x

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