It’s almost that time of year — time to resolve to be better — whether it’s finally losing those 30 pounds, reading one book a month, or saving money. So why is it that 80% of Americans fail and give up on their New Year’s resolutions by February? Perhaps they could try a different approach. In this post, we’ll make the case for why you should set intentions rather than resolutions.
Why Resolutions Fail
Here’s why so many people struggle to stick with their New Year’s resolutions:
- Holiday fatigue — After a season jam-packed with gatherings, shopping, cooking, and other festivities, it’s easy to find yourself physically and emotionally drained. Although you may want to make significant changes in your life, the truth is that you may just be too tired to follow through.
- Unrealistic expectations — It’s so easy to tell yourself: “I will never eat another cookie after today, so I’m going to eat 12 gingerbread cookies tonight.” But, the reality is that you’re going to get hungry again, and you’re going to fall to the temptation of fresh-baked cookies, a piece of birthday cake, etc. When you take this “all or nothing“ approach to resolutions, it can backfire quickly and lead you to revert to your old behaviors times ten.
- Unresolved issues — You probably think that once you finally lose those 15 pounds from pregnancy that everything will fall into place and you will be happy forever. But placing that much power on a few extra pounds is setting yourself up for disaster — and, quite frankly, failure.
Shifting From Resolutions to Intentions
Think of intentions as attitudes that impact your actions. Intentions are an empowering way to create permanent behavior changes, and they can be just as motivating as setting goals for the new year. The only thing you miss with intentions is the negative associations and pressure that come with resolutions. Instead, intentions provide a broader vision of your life and serve as a starting point to set more specific goals. Here’s how to start:
How to Create Your Intentions
Brainstorm the changes you want to see in your life. Be sure to do so with nurturing and compassionate language.
Write Your Intentions Down
Writing intentions down through journaling is a powerful step toward making your dreams come true.
Start Achieving Change
The path to change starts with small, action-oriented steps. You can use each intention as a guide to start making small measurable steps that help you achieve the results you’re looking for.
Spread the Word
Research shows that people who make their intentions known to others are more successful. Sharing your intentions helps you establish accountability and can afford you support along your journey.
One of the worst things about “waiting until the new year“ is that it sends you into “all or nothing“ mode. You say that once the new year comes, you’re going to go vegan in order to be more healthy, so you eat three Big Macs per day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day — perhaps even six Big Macs on New Year’s Eve! Or, you say you’re going to start saving money in the new year, so you buy Christmas gifts for the entire family that are way above budget to fulfill that need for “one final splurge.“ When you set your intentions, there’s no waiting around. You start now. You start where you are. Intentions are seen more as a lifestyle change and not just things that have a set start and end date.
As we become more connected to the internet, we become disconnected from our loved ones and ourselves. By practicing mindfulness and learning to live in your body rather than in your phone, you will cultivate a healthier lifestyle and perspective. You’ll also learn to be more aware of what triggers your unhealthy habits and how to defeat those triggers.
Celebrate Each Milestone
If your resolution is to lose 50 pounds in the new year, you won’t be satisfied until you get to that number. You will not be able to appreciate the marks for 10, 15, 20, 40, and 45 pounds lost, which are all incredible milestones. Why? Because you are too focused on watching the clock, trying to reach that 50 pounds in 365 days.
Instead, your intentions teach you to set small goals and celebrate them. If your intention is to live a healthier lifestyle through better food choices and exercise, reward yourself when you walk that extra mile, eat that extra vegetable, or choose a side of fruit instead of fries. Every little accomplishment should be celebrated because they all pave a path for you to achieve that healthy lifestyle or make any other changes you’ve got your heart set on.
We’re all human, and we’re going to slip up and give in to temptation. You will experience setbacks on your new journey, but allow yourself to. Then, challenge yourself to respond with compassion and kindness rather than hate and negative self-talk. Change is never linear. All that matters is that you get back up.
Revisit Your Goals From Time to Time
As life changes, your goals are bound to change too. So, it’s important to check in with yourself and examine your intentions and whether you’re achieving them — or if you even still want to achieve those goals. A quick reassessment and updating of your intentions to reflect where you’re at the moment will help you harness what you’re looking for.
This is where journaling your intentions is especially helpful because you can look back at exactly how you were feeling when you set the intentions and what you wanted to change. Then, you can write about your progress and how you’re feeling along the journey in real time.
When you set out to record your intentions for the coming new year, why not use a digital journal? You won’t have to worry about losing your precious memories or having them fall into the wrong hands. Ready to get started? Try the bytelyfe.app today!