How to Choose a Sankalpa for the New Year

Many of us have dabbled in setting new year’s resolutions and goals. But as soon as February rolls around, most (if not all of these) are distant memories. So, instead of choosing resolutions this year, why not give them a yogic twist and set yourself a sankalpa (intention)?

In a world that is constantly focused on setting goals and achieving outcomes, the practice of sankalpa offers a refreshing perspective. Unlike goals, which often have specific end results in mind, sankalpa invites us to tap into our deepest desires and align our actions with our true purpose.

A sankalpa encourages us to focus on the journey rather than fixating solely on the destination.

What Is a Sankalpa?

Sankalpa, derived from the Sanskrit words “san” (meaning connection) and “kalpa” (meaning vow), is the art of setting intentions rather than rigid goals. By definition, sankalpa is:

A resolve; a brief and positive statement and commitment you make to yourself repeated three times done with feeling and commitment and thinking of higher power as your witness. It’s like a resolution, called a “sankalpa.” 

San: an association with the highest validity 

Kalpa: vow or promise

By setting intentions instead of goals, we open ourselves up to infinite possibilities and allow room for growth and transformation. Intentions are like seeds that we plant within ourselves, nurturing them with love and attention as they gradually blossom into reality.

The power of sankalpa lies in its ability to cultivate mindfulness and self-awareness. It encourages us to explore what truly matters to us at a soul level, helping us uncover our authentic desires and values.

When we set intentions aligned with our innermost truths, we create a strong foundation for personal fulfillment and joy.

As the new year approaches, let’s shift our focus from rigid goal-setting to embracing the practice of sankalpa. Let’s take time to reflect on what truly brings meaning into our lives and set intentions that align with our deepest aspirations.

With each intention we set, we can infuse it with unwavering belief in ourselves and trust in the universe’s ability to guide us toward its manifestation.

Sankalpa vs. Resolution

In the Western world, we make resolutions at the start of the year that we “will try to…” certain things to improve our lives in the year ahead. They often fail because we make them from a place within us that states we are not good enough in some way and think we need to acquire things to make us a better person.

What is the difference between a sankalpa and resolution? And why are we more likely to stick to a sankalpa over a resolution? Simply put, a sankalpa defines the actions we take today, while resolutions are future focused.

Resolutions are typically a decision to do or not to do something — with no wiggle room. You either stick to them or you fall off the wagon.

A sankalpa, on the other hand, is the practice of setting an intention rather than an expectation. For your sankalpa to best take effect, you should recite it every day. Many practitioners also recommend repeating it three times. By doing this, you are stating your sankalpa on a mind that is calm and relaxed, granting it access to the subconscious.

A general note: Keep it simple, Make it Tangible, Make it Obvious (have reminders, share it with others), Keep believing you can do it.

Finding Your Sankalpa

So where do you begin? I have found the following guidelines to work in giving me direction.

  1. Start with a statement you make about something already in place (“I am at peace with myself”).
  2. Set a specific intention or goal. This could be setting mini goals or milestones in order to help you achieve your ultimate goal within a time frame set only by you.
  3. Set “small, attainable goals throughout the year, rather than one singular, overwhelming goal,” keeping it simple and concise.

Finding your sankalpa shouldn’t require a lot of searching or creativity. You can dig a bit deeper by asking yourself the following: 

  • In every area of my life, what am I grateful for? What’s not working?
  • What are my core desired feelings?
  • To generate my core desired feelings, what do I want to do, experience, or have?
  • What three or four intentions and goals will I focus on this year?
  • What will I do this week to generate my core desired feelings and fulfill my intentions and goals for this month?

Journal these out and have notes for reflection throughout the months and year ahead.

Seed of Change

Remember, life is not just about reaching destinations; it’s about savoring each step along the way. Allow your sankalpa be a guiding light as you embark on this beautiful journey called life — one intention at a time.

Does this approach to the new year and resolutions resonate with you? 

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