5 ways to success with New Years Intentions
Now that a new year has rolled up, it’s easy to feel pressure to make lofty resolutions for a new better you. Our social media feeds are bombarded with quick fixes to lose weight, get fitter, more toned, and look better. Giving us a clear message that we’re not good enough as we are. So, wanting to be our best we write down a few resolutions. We begin motivated, then struggle with them for a few weeks, before giving up completely with plenty of self-criticism thrown into the mix. – as if it’s just another bullet point on our failure list.
Well, I’m here to tell you that things don’t have to be this way – there’s a more compassionate, sustainable, and effective way to achieve your new year health and wellbeing goals. Set intentions instead of resolutions.
Why set intentions over resolutions?
While some see no difference between resolutions and intentions, I see a clear one – the former usually demands an all-or-nothing approach. It’s unforgiving. If you set a resolution and life throws a curve ball resulting in you missing a mark it is easy to think why bother and give up. Ultimately, resolutions leave you with only two options – success or failure.
This is because resolutions are usually clearly defined, specific, and measurable, leaving no room for compassion and leniency. It’s therefore not surprising that most resolutions fall apart by mid-January because life happens. Ultimately, setting resolutions puts you in a stringent mindset that sets you up for failure.
But when it comes to intentions, things are different. They are usually compassionate and flexible, leaving room for the unexpected situations that life throws you along the way. They help you think on a continuum and concentrate on the journey rather than on the goal.
In the long run, intention-setting aims to shift your mindset to help you achieve the goal, increasing the likelihood of success. This is because intentions represent broader ideas that you want to live by – they can even be spiritual. An example of an intention would be to honour your body. On the other hand, a corresponding resolution might be to lose 10 kilograms in a couple of months.
The origins of intention-setting
If you regularly practise yoga, you have probably heard of the Sanskrit term Sankalpa. This word means an intention, solemn vow, or heartfelt desire – a rule to be kept above all rules. This statement should align with your life’s purpose. It’s therefore not surprising that in yogic philosophy, the practice of Sankalpa (intention-setting) is rooted in the understanding that we are already enough.
5 tips to make your New Year’s Intentions Stick
Now that you understand what intention-setting is and how it’s better than resolution-setting, here are 5 tips that will set you up for success:
1. Know your why
Like with all things in life, understanding your why makes intention-setting easier and more effective. So, before you sit down and set your intentions for the year, figure out the real reason you want to achieve them – how will achieving them make you feel? It needs to be tied to something important to you. Try to think about your intention daily – perhaps have it somewhere visible so it’s always front of mind and say it aloud sometimes.
2. Focus on small sustainable steps
No matter what you are trying to achieve, breaking it down into small steps that you know you can achieve is a great way to go. For one, it helps with procrastination – it’s so much easier to get going with something small and easy than to tackle a big hairy goal. Succeeding with small steps keeps you motivated, building momentum. As you tick one thing off you feel motivated to keep going. Success breeds success. Finally small steps are sustainable, helping with consistency. It’s easier to keep doing something when it’s small and you know you can do it.
So, if your intention is to live a more healthy life, you’re better off starting with something small like trying to eat one more serving of vegetables rather than trying to completely overhaul your whole diet in one go.
3. Focus on one thing at a time
When you’re ready for change it can be tempting to try and change everything all at once. Just like multitasking may seem like an effective way to tick as many things off your list at one time, it’s really not. It only slows you down, causing frustration and overwhelm. Focusing on one thing at a time is actually the quickest and easiest road to success. No matter what your goal for the new year is, just focus on one change at a time. For instance, if your intention is to have more balance this year, rather than trying to wake up 1 hour earlier every day so that you can meditate for 15 minutes and go for a 30-minute walk and make yourself a nutritious green smoothie and make a packed lunch for work and get to work earlier so you can plan your day and, and, and…. Just focus on one thing at a time. Perhaps start with building the habit of getting up earlier and putting your walking shoes on ready to go out. Once you’ve nailed that move onto the next activity.
This is because when we divide our focus, our energy is divided too. And as Tony Robinson famously said, “Energy goes where attention flows.”
4. Think on a continuum
While it’s admirable to want achieve 100% compliance with your intention, it’s not realistic or sustainable. Rather than thinking in absolutes, think on a continuum. When you focus on progress over perfection, it is easier to be consistent. This is because you don’t give up whenever you slip up – instead you just get up and aim to do a little bit better. Any progress, no matter how small is still progress. Because at the end of the day, even a 1% improvement will lead to big results in the long term. Check out Tom Clear’s book Atomic Habits, for more on this.
5. Celebrate your behaviour
While you can’t always control the outcome, you can control your behaviours and actions. So regardless of the outcome celebrate your behaviours and actions that support the outcome you desire. It is likely eventually these behaviours will eventually lead to the outcome you’re seeking. Often things take longer than we expect. Like growing vegetables, creating change requires patience, commitment and time. You need to plant a few seeds, tend to them consistently before you have any harvest.
Get started with your intention-setting today
Now that you understand what intention setting is, it’s time to try it out for yourself. And I have just the thing to help you – my New Year’s Intention Calendar. If you want to get a head start on your 20222 health and wellbeing goals, this calendar is just what you need. Each day, it reveals a new small and mighty health and wellbeing tip.
If you’re looking for more support and are based in the Wellington region, please come along to one or all of the “Small Steps Lead to Great Success” series. In the trio of micro-classes I’ll show you how small changes in mindset, movement and nutrition lead to real results. By coming along, you will improve not only your life but also that of other Wellingtonians – half of the proceeds are going to support Wellington City Mission. Book today.
If you’re tired of New Year’s resolutions falling flat, know you’re not alone. Try out my tips for success with intentions. I’m here to take the journey with you!