As we look to the new year many of us are focused on creating better health in 2023. But we also know that making change isn’t easy for most of us because of the layers of conditioning that surround our habits. As Mark Twain once said, “Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.” As you consider your goals for the year it might be helpful to understand that how you create goals is an important concept.
Let’s start with giving the boot to resolutions as we create a plan for the new year. Resolutions tend to be clearly defined, measurable, and specific. They view things as ‘this’ or ‘that,’ often quietly focused on whether behaviors are either ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ This can focus on the negative, emphasize what you lack, and create feelings of pass or fail. Finally, the bottom line is they don’t work for most people.
Resolutions tend to have a judgmental sentiment because they are a statement around something that you want to fix about yourself or your lifestyle. So, already you feel like you are not good enough. True change comes from being inspired to make good choices instead of feeling like you “should” do something.
This year you may want to try Intentions instead. An intention is defined as a thing intended; an aim or plan to live by. It is something that relates to our purpose with a focus on how we can bring about change for ourselves. The idea is to manifest something to bring more abundance into your life. This approach is more creative, freeing, and more about the journey than the destination.
Resolution vs. Intention
This might feel like semantics but here is a good example to help discern the difference between a resolution and an intention. You might resolve to stop eating refined sugar 100% of the time in the new year. This is a hard and fast rule which is easy to break, especially when you are in the presence of tempting food while feeling stressed.
The intention behind this resolution might be to listen to and honor the needs of the body through more healthful choices. This intention is softer, more qualitative, and harder to measure. But at the same time, it is more compassionate and heart centered. One thing that I have learned from my clients is that change happens easier when it occurs through the backdrop of self-love instead of self-incrimination.
Intentions allow us space to be more curious about why we sometimes fall short in making the changes that will make a difference for us. They allow us to learn from our mishaps instead of unfairly judging ourselves and ending up throwing in the towel. This can lead to more creative solutions that help us change more permanently in the right direction.
How to set an intention for the new year
An intention is something you can live by that you carry throughout the year and into the future. It will help you be more conscious and mindful.
- Spend some quiet time with yourself to get clear about what your intention is
- Write it down
- Simplify your intention to a one-word mantra
- Return to your intention regularly: save it on your phone, return to it daily, post pictures in your home that represent your intention
Try taking a kinder approach to change this year. Judging yourself harshly is discouraging and unmotivating. Intentions will keep you inspired and working toward the transformation that is in line with your future vision of yourself.