Updated: Jan 16
New Year's Resolutions Are Out,
Intentions Are In
It's the same story every year. Millions of people make New Year's resolutions, vowing to read more books, save money and make other life changes. Those promises last days or maybe weeks but rarely go the distance then December rolls around again.
This spirited hype is tiring! It's time to take a new approach to self-improvement; it's time for intentions.
Intentions are different than resolutions because they set you on a path of personal growth that considers your unique passions, values, and goals that may evolve over time. Intentions permit us to be flexible in our life journey, so we don't get caught up in the all-or-nothing approach associated with resolution-setting.
I'll discuss why intentions are a better option and how to use them to set yourself free from the pressure of making New Year Resolutions. But first, let's talk about why people tend to break their New Year's resolutions.
Reason #1: Your Resolution Is Phony
When a new year rolls around, it's customary to make a promise to better yourself somehow. It makes no difference if this is something you really want or if it's a trend you see everyone else doing.
This brings us to why new resolutions are difficult to keep. Making a resolve "just because" shows that you aren't truly committed to following through with it. Unsurprisingly, it leads to nowhere.
Reason #2: A False Sense of "Fresh Start"
Another reason for the low success rate of New Year's goals is the mentality of "starting over." It's as if turning a calendar page provides us with a clean slate. I'm not trying to dissuade you from that; now is a perfect moment to begin anew. However, here's the thing: if that's the reason you're establishing a resolution for the new year, it won't be enough.
The process of beginning over requires effort. It entails addressing whatever has prevented you from having a "new start" in the past. And if you're not ready for that, your resolve will not be successful.
Reason #3: You're Only Keeping Your Resolution because "It’s the Right Thing to Do"
There is something about the beginning of a new year that persuades most people to accept resolutions they think they are meant to be establishing. For example, your partner has been nagging you about your smoking habit, or you need to exercise more. Consequently, what could be a more effective means of bringing about change than making a resolution for the new year?
The challenge is that even though these are things that you ought to accomplish, you are not yet prepared for them. So what makes the new year so remarkable if you weren't prepared for it before it arrived?
Reason #4: You Don't Give Adequate Consideration to Your Goals
Most people make significant alterations to their lives to fulfill their resolutions. Changes must be planned and supported to assist you in breaking through the mental hurdles that are certain to appear along the path.
For instance, if your New Year's resolve is to "get better at timekeeping," then you'll need to make an effort to be successful in achieving this goal by:
Having a clear definition of what that means to you
Articulating exactly what significance that holds for you
Devising a strategy for accomplishing your goal to provide you with a means of maintaining your momentum
Even while these shifts are feasible, you won't be able to bring them about with mere will and the renewed vigor you've gained since the new year began. It calls for deliberation and meticulous preparation, which is often lacking when it comes to resolution-setting.
Intentions are more like a guidebook on improving your life; in the process, they hold you accountable for your actions. An intention helps you stay rooted in the here and now, but a resolve ties you to the future without providing a specific way ahead.
By settling intentions, we have a better outlook on what we want to achieve in the following year, which creates less pressure on ourselves and makes for better mental health. A release of stress comes with having intentions. But it's not quite as cut and dried as you may think.
Here are a few ideas for successfully setting your aims for the year:
Discover what brings you peace and joy, then focus on it.
According to the principle known as the law of attraction, if you concentrate on things that make you happy, you will attract more good fortune into your life; thus, you should give this strategy a shot.
Take a notepad and begin noting the things that truly get your heart racing. What makes you feel fulfilled and gives you a sense of direction in life?
Make a list of those things but avoid including things you don't honestly wish to accomplish. This will keep you focused.
Think of a phrase that you can tell yourself often and use it like a mantra.
After compiling your list, the next step is to think of a simple mantra that includes some of the items you have listed. For example, you should say, "I aim to exercise self-care on a daily basis," rather than telling yourself you "want" to do something. Or if you want to purchase a car, you may make "I will become more financially responsible" your mantra.
Focusing on your feelings, instead of just the endgame, is crucial. Concentrating on your emotions can motivate you and make your goal achievable.
Let's say you want to lose weight. Instead of harping on, "I want to lose weight," your mantra can be, "I want to be happy with my body."
Have an intentions buddy.
Find someone familiar with you and who will support you, and then share your intention with them. Because although having intentions may make us more accountable for our actions, we are still prone to making mistakes.
When you notice that you are thinking negatively or are having trouble being in the present, you may benefit from the assistance of a friend or a mentor who can get you back on course.
Always try to see the positive side of things.
Remember to think about the contrary every time you feel yourself sliding into the trap of listing things you do not want to accomplish.
Inject positivity whenever possible, like replacing the statement "I am not going to live with dread" with "I aim to trust more freely this year."
Make a vision board to represent your goals and aspirations.
It's great to have solid visuals. If your intentions start to fade, create a board with cuttings of words, ideas, and images as reminders of the long-term benefits of sticking to your mantra. Then consult this board every time you need a reminder.
A tip: keep your vision board in an area where you can see it frequently during the day.
Let it go!
When you first wake up, recite your mantra, and then let it go when you've done so. You've done your part; don't give it any more thought for the time being. We can't hold on too tightly if we want things to materialize.
Try some meditation or yoga if you're having trouble with this phase. Both of these practices may help you put your mind at peace and put you in a condition where you're more conscious.
Setting intentions over resolutions can be a much more powerful and effective tool for making real changes in your life.
So, as you move into the New Year, reflect on what you truly want to accomplish and focus on creating intentions that will guide you to achieve those goals.
With clear intentions focusing on small actions and habits, you'll be well on your way to success!