Set Intentions, Not Resolutions

The holidays are often a period that leads to, and demands, reflection. That said, the last two calendar years have looked quite different, often clouded with waves of uncertainty. As we step into this next chapter, here are some tips to set yourself up for success.

Switch from resolutions to intentions – Resolutions are often things we think we should do (lose weight, sleep better, etc.). Research shows this extrinsic motivation can lead to change, but usually not sustainable change. The reality is by Feb 1st, most resolutions have dropped off. On the other hand, intentions are ideas you want – more aligned with the intrinsic motivation that is worked towards over time – which is a much more realistic approach to growth. For example, a resolution of losing weight or eating better can be changed into an intention of seeking more vitality in your day-to-day life.

Set realistic goals – New Year’s resolutions are commonplace at the beginning of the year. As you think about aspects of your mental and physical health, it is important to set realistic goals that matter to you. Don’t let others or cultural pressures dictate your goals.

Be kind to yourself – Self-compassion is a critical capacity that allows us to grow. You know yourself and your needs best. There is no better expert on what you need and want than you. Trust your inner voice and harness it with the new year ahead. Here are some questions to help you reflect, learn and grow into your best self in this next chapter.

Who do you aspire to become in this next chapter?
What thoughts, mindsets, or attitudes from this past chapter do you want to continue to serve you in the future?
What relationships can you invest in, create, and redefine in this next chapter?
What would it look like if you were the best version of yourself at the end of this new chapter?

These questions are just the start for setting your intentions. To further develop these ideas, try the following:

Plot and Plan – Writing down goals is more effective than just thinking about them. Prioritize your goals and intentions by breaking them down into short and long-term, aspects of your life (or another logical categorization).

Check in with yourself – Make sure what you write down is congruent with YOUR values and not what you think you should do. Do not ‘should’ on yourself. 🙂

Anticipate setbacks and opportunities – Use if/then thinking when it comes to your goals and intentions. Things rarely go exactly to plan. If “x” happens, then I will “y” to get back on track. Create contingency plans to bolster your resilience and promote the likelihood of success.

It is okay to pivot – If plan A is no longer what you want or isn’t attainable, don’t let perfect get in the way of good. You know yourself best. Constantly evaluate if your current intentions are in line with who you are and who you want to be. 70%, 50%, or even 30% improvement is better than none at all.

Savor the process – This process is for YOU. Embrace it, celebrate it, and fine tune it as you go along. Time and change can be scary, but these questions and strategies can aid in your vitality now and into the future.