Intentions Instead of Resolutions for a Fresh Year

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The beginning of the calendar year seems like a natural time for self-reflection. Time to ponder what is going well in your life, and maybe not so well. A New Year’s resolution may be set with the hope of things going differently the upcoming year. It’s a decision to do something. Many resolutions are based around health-focused goals, such as losing weight, exercising more, drinking less, or quitting smoking. Others are life-enriching, like learning a new skill or spending more time with family members. In theory, making a resolution seems like a good idea. But most view this decision with an all-or-nothing mentality. After having five tiring salad lunches in a row or missing a few workouts, it may be time to throw in the towel.

Instead of a resolution, think about going through the process of intention setting. Considering your intention takes more time than proclaiming a resolution, as it is a deeper, soul-searching activity. Your intention needs to be something that is truly of value to you, a vision of what you want in your life or the kind of person you want to be. It focuses on internal power and long-term change. Unlike a resolution, an intention focuses less on goals and more on the journey that leads to an outcome, utilizing the mind, body, and spirit. The difference is subtle but important.

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Once you know what your intention is, create a statement that you can focus on throughout the year. Your thoughts hold a lot of power over what you will experience in 2020 and beyond. Place your statement somewhere visible and think about it each day. A health-focused intention statement could be, “To enjoy a long and happy life, I will take care of my body to the best of my ability.” Whereas, a resolution may be, “I will lose 20 pounds.” See the difference? Losing 20 pounds is a specific goal that is very difficult to achieve. It is restriction-based and may lead to frustration and negative self-talk. But if you say to yourself every day that you will take care of your body to the best of your ability, this includes making sure you have nourishing meals and that you move your body in a way that feels just right. It’s flexible and may include joys in life such a being a normal eater and enjoying small treats without regret. This is how you live. You may lose weight, but that’s not the focus.

When you use your intention as the focus it allows you to keep going even if have trouble sticking to any changes or actions you are incorporating into your daily life. You can change your plan if it doesn’t work for you.

It’s important to celebrate small steps. Let’s say you trade in sweet tea for unsweetened herbal tea. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge your accomplishment. Self-praise goes a long way in building confidence and motivation. These small steps will add up to a well-intentioned lifestyle.