If you’ve been following me for a while now, you will know that I am somewhat opposed to the ‘patriarchy of society’. Today, I got to thinking about how society encourages us every damn year to make New Year’s Resolutions. It is a time that is supposed to be filled with new hope of making things different in the coming year. However, if you are like me, you are not a fan of setting New Year’s resolutions. In theory, it’s a good idea, but it leaves many of us feeling like mega failures by the time February rolls around. So that is why I’m going to encourage you to set intentions for 2020 instead of resolutions.
What are New Year’s resolutions?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines New Year’s resolutions as, ‘a promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year’. In short, New Year’s resolutions are when people decide to take action and work towards a goal. The most popular resolutions are to:
- Lose weight
- Exercise more
- Eat healthier
- Stop smoking
- Drink less
- Learn a new hobby or skill
We know that it’s good to have goals in life, but there are a few reasons why resolutions don’t work for most people. Firstly, many people struggle to know how to set proper resolutions and goals. So they choose something they want to do, but they don’t actually have a plan for how they will accomplish it. This leads to failure in achieving the goal. Secondly, we tend to view resolutions with an ‘all or nothing’ mentality. This means the first time we blow our diet or miss a workout we throw our resolution out the window! Resolutions are something that we either succeed or fail. It’s black or white.
If you don’t believe me just go to a gym at the beginning of January and then again at the beginning of February and March. Gyms across the country are packed with people who have made resolutions to get in shape at the start of the year. But, each month attendance drops off as people give up. After so many years of trying and ‘failing’ to stick to their resolutions, people just stop making them altogether.
How are ‘intentions’ different from ‘resolutions’?
Unlike resolutions, intention-setting focuses less on goals and more on the journey which leads to an outcome. Think of it this way: Intentions focus more on internal power and long-term change, whereas resolutions focus more on external, and sometimes, short-lived, rewards.
Let’s take a look at how this works for one of the most commonly set resolutions: losing weight. If you are setting a resolution to lose weight it might be something like, ‘lose 20 pounds’. But, if you choose to set an intention the weight loss might be a result, but it’s not going to be the focus. The intention might be something more like, ‘I am going to take care of my body the way that it deserves’. This may incorporate making changes to your diet or your exercise regimen, but the focus is not on those specific changes but the intention of treating your body the way it deserves.
Intentions are about reconnecting with our authentic selves. (You likely know AUTHENTICITY is one of my continual themes in my coaching practice, as is HOLISTIC CARE) Intentions enable us to reconnect with what we need: mind, body, and spirit. Intentions seek to address this residue from within in order to achieve change, whereas resolutions most often set awareness on the achievement of something externally. The difference is subtle but SO important.
How to Set Intentions
1. Spend time in self-reflection and dig into your ‘why‘
The first step to set intentions for 2020 is to spend some time in self-reflection. Your intentions will only matter to you and come to reality if they are something that truly matters to you. Think through each area of your life and consider which is the most important to you along with identifying your priorities and passions. Your intentions need to align with who you are. While doing this, take note of how you ‘FEEL’ when you identify them. Do they light you up? Do you feel happy? Are you smiling without realizing?
Take the time to really dig deep into what you want your intentions for the year ahead to be and why they matter to you. What do you want your life to look like and why? How do you want to FEEL? What would life be like if these things came to being? I always like to write things down as they come up for me. Start a 2020 journal!
2. Create a statement for your intention
Once you know what your intentions are going to be, you need to create a statement around each one so you can focus on it throughout the year. Your thoughts hold a lot of power over the outcomes you will experience in 2020 and beyond. Remember! Keep your thoughts POSITIVE. This is the beginning of a new DECADE! A great way to start this process is to create a vision in your mind’s eye. Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? How do you feel? Write it down in your journal.
You will soon begin to see your statements appear. Make sure they are written in positive language, and include only positive words. ‘I am….’ ‘I will…’ Take care that words such as ‘can’t’ ‘won’t’ ‘don’t’ are excluded.
Now, make sure you spend some time thinking about each for a short time each day. Spend time meditating on them. Maybe place the statements somewhere you know you will see them every day. I use my bathroom mirror so I can focus on the words whilst brushing my teeth!
3. Release your doubts and negative beliefs
Once again, remember, your thoughts are powerful. It is super important that you work on releasing any doubts or negative thoughts that you have about your intentions. This can be really tricky, especially if it is an area that you have set resolutions for before and failed in the past. You really need to let go of the past and remind yourself you are focusing on intentions, not resolutions now. This is different and is setting you up for success!
4. Allow your intentions to guide your plans
Once you have your intentions set in place you can use them to determine what actions you want to take in order to achieve them. When you use the intention as the focus it allows you to keep going even if have trouble sticking to the changes or actions you are working on incorporating into your life.
5. Get ready for 2020!
While 2019 may not have gone exactly as you wanted, as you set your intentions for 2020, make sure to celebrate the successes from the year. Celebrating successes, even the smallest of ones will go a long way towards building up your confidence and encouraging you onward into action.
And remember, the difference between success and failure is your intention.
Feel free to ask for help and declare your intentions on our Facebook ‘Vision Board’ HERE!