New year, new me – that’s the trap into which most people fall as one year gives way to another. The transition from December to January is an excuse to start over fresh, a reason to make challenging lifestyle shifts that are somehow otherwise elusive and impossible to maintain.
New Year’s resolutions can be a powerful force for those seeking life changes, from getting healthier to accomplishing financial goals, but the success rate for actually achieving these objectives is far from good. Around 80% of people have already given up on resolutions by February, leaving gym memberships unused and self-help books untouched.
If you’re stopping yourself from making resolutions due to the likelihood of failure, you’re not alone. But there’s a better way to go about how you approach the start of 2019.
This year, instead of resolutions, set intentions.
Why Resolutions Fail
Think back on the resolutions of your past. Maybe last year, you resolved to work out on a regular basis. Perhaps the year before, you were determined to cut sugar out of your diet. But be honest with yourself – did you really go to the gym more than a few days at the start of January? How long was it before you reached for another can of Coke?
For most people, standard resolutions are futile, no matter how rosy things look on New Year’s Day. One study even found that only 12% of people stick to resolutions, even though 52% were confident in their ability to succeed on January 1st.
This may seem discouraging, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s not the inherent nature of resolutions at fault for the high failure rate, but rather the mindset of those expecting changes. Without the right perspective and a focused mentality, it’s going to be impossible to achieve your goals, no matter how good you feel at the start of the year.
Intentions vs Resolutions
Intentions and resolutions may appear to be the same on the surface, but these two concepts are not made equal. While resolutions speak to a specific and finite achievement, intentions go deeper, targeting your awareness and perceptions of self to inspire lasting results.
On a personal level, the difference lies in your perspective and your ability to develop a commitment to growth and progress rather than simply setting a goal around the arbitrary passage of time. Resolutions are limiting while intentions are not, giving you the ability to change the way you experience the world. In setting intentions for the present rather than objectives for the future, you can be the change you want to see rather than expecting circumstances to work in your favor.
Let’s say you want to lose 10 lbs. so being intentional about it would entail setting quantifiable goals around that and ensuring your schedule fosters that intent. For example, you’ll meal plan every Sunday night for the week and workout three times a week for 45 minutes. This will leave no room for excuses and become a part of your routine.
Harnessing the Power of Intentions
You’re probably experienced in making resolutions, but the concept of intentions is likely less familiar. As you determine the kinds of habits, traits, and results you’d like to see over the next few months and throughout the rest of your life, keep these tips in mind.
Keep Goals Attainable Yet Identifiable
Most resolutions are vague in nature, like getting healthy or going to the gym more often. However, these kinds of resolutions aren’t necessarily qualitative or quantifiable.
What, exactly, does health mean to you? Does it mean less body mass? A diet rich in vegetables, minerals, and whole foods? Lower heart rate or blood pressure? Instead of staying vague with an unattainable goal, take time to meditate on the results you’d like to see and what paths make sense to your overall objectives.
There are many different ways to achieve these sorts of common resolutions, so determine what specifically you want to ultimately accomplish. When you can isolate and identify a specific objective and understand exactly how this can be accomplished, it will be easier to let your intentions guide you.
Embrace Change and Spontaneity
Life rarely goes the way we want it. Sooner or later, something will stand in your way, like a sprained ankle that stops your marathon training or an unexpected financial obligation that halts your progress in launching a business. When this occurs, it’s easy to give up and assume that your plans for success are now futile.
When you set intentions instead, it’s easier to find an alternate route. Perhaps running isn’t in the cards anymore, but a thriving yoga practice may be a good substitute. Maybe you can’t take your business live without more capital, but you can continue to plan, build relationships, and search for other sources of funding.
When you embrace change as a part of life and understand that you will come upon a fork in the road sooner or later, it’s easier to keep your mind focused on the journey, not just the end result.
Doubt is a challenge that affects everyone from time to time, particularly when difficult circumstances arise. It’s human nature to tell yourself that you’re not good enough, not strong enough, not smart enough, or not talented enough to achieve your objectives.
If you set the ability to run a 10K as your intention for the new year but barely make it through a mile your first run, don’t tell yourself that you’re not cut out for running. Everyone has to start somewhere, and your first run is just a starting place. Rather than letting doubts overtake you, try again tomorrow. Or, if you want to launch your own business to get away from the 9-5 lifestyle and your first efforts don’t yield significant sales, don’t assume it’s because you made the wrong choice. Instead, remind yourself that most new businesses start slowly.
When you stop letting doubt rule your life, you create ideal circumstances for your intentions to guide you forward.
Let Intentions Lead in the New Year
If you’re used to making resolutions at the start of a new year, it’s time to try something new. When intentions take the place of resolutions, happiness in yourself and your accomplishments becomes closer than ever.
Resolutions are short-term, but intentions are meant to last. Let this year be the year you succeed at what you set out to do – and keep succeeding for years to come.