Among all the yearly traditions that surround New Year's -- the cooking, the fireworks, the champagne -- there is one which so many people anticipate, and possibly dread, every year.
The problem with this tradition is that it fails to set people up for success -- as much as 88% of resolutions will fail. We're too vague about our resolutions; we're too hard set against change; we choose too big of a resolution to accomplish; or we choose too many resolutions to accomplish.
What is an "intention?"
There is really only one big difference between an "intention" and a "resolution". A resolution is focused on the goal; an intention is focused on the journey. With an intention, you are putting your mind in a place of working towards bettering yourself, not pulling out all the stops to change your life right now. Instead, an intention is about gradually changing and shifting the practices and procedures of your life in an effort to live with health and presence.
Here's an example: last year you may have "resolved" to lose 20 pounds. This year, you might instead "intend" to practice self-care by choosing to nourish your body with food that meets your body's needs and movement that builds strength and energy. This intention can focus on the journey of incorporating a nightly walk and choosing at least one extra fruit or vegetable a day. By setting an intention, you can ask yourself the question "how does this food or activity nourish my body?"
How can you begin?
"To set an intention, you need to define it, write it down, set it up to happen, eliminate obstacles or find ways around them, identify steps to take, and then release it. Write positive affirmations to yourself to keep focused and motivated."
Part of laying out intentions can actually begin with resolutions. Think of what you want to accomplish, and then go one step further. Your intention will be the answer to the question of, "How do I accomplish that goal?"
Using tools like powerful self-affirmations can help as well, serving as an internal motivator and a reminder that you are strong enough to accomplish what you have set out to do.
One of my favorite tools for starting my new year is this workbook from Susannah Conway.
How can you succeed?
As with any practice or goal, there must be reflection. With your New Years Intention, I encourage you to take time to pause and reflect. Ask yourself these questions every 2-3 months:
- How am I doing?
- Does this practice make me feel good about myself?
- What isn't working?
- What do I need to change?
With time, you will likely find that your New Years Intention has done more for you than your previous New Years Resolution.
Contact me if you'd like to learn more about how you can begin healing and empowering yourself for 2016.