Intention is the New Resolution: The Secret to Creating Long-Lasting Habits for the New Year
I made a big decision two years ago when I decided to ditch the ever so popular New Year’s Resolution. I realized that there was no sense in creating a resolution when a) it never made me feel all that great anyway, and b) it never lasted beyond the month of January. I was finding that I would go into January 1st with a sense of dread – and for good reason. In creating said resolution, I was evaluating what I was doing in the moment and saying that it wasn’t good enough, and that I had to do better as soon as the clock struck 12 on January 1st. Instead of resolutions, I began to set intentions. Something about the term ‘resolution’ just felt judgy, and I was not about that life. It was almost as though I was highlighting my failures, rather than focusing on the feelings that come with setting a goal and putting my energy into it. So how do you successfully set an intention?
Focus on the Purpose
We’ve all been there with our resolutions…I’m going to lose ten pounds/workout more/go to sleep earlier/watch less TV. These resolutions can be transformed into intentions by focusing on the purpose they will serve instead of the result.
Resolution: I’m going to lose ten pounds.
Intention: I’m going to appreciate and respect my body because it serves me well and deserves to be treated with love.
Resolution: I’m going to sleep earlier.
Intention: I choose to listen to my body and focus more on rest and recovery because I need it.
Resolution: I will cook more.
Intention: I will show my body love by fueling it with nutritious foods.
Creating these intentions is challenging – it takes a moment to step into a place of positive self talk and really think about what it is you are setting out to achieve and why this is important to you. It puts us in a position to ask ourselves what we deserve – and the result of this can be difficult but incredibly powerful.
Create Realistic Steps to Support the Purpose
Once you’ve set an intention, you can then begin to formulate a plan to support it. If your intention is to appreciate and respect your body, perhaps you will do so by spending 15 minutes each day getting some fresh air, or scheduling a yoga class three days week. If your intention was to listen to your body more, then perhaps the steps you will take include making more mindful decisions at the beginning and end of your day and setting up a morning and evening routine. By framing your intention with reasonable steps, you are acknowledging what you value, and thinking about how to show that value through simple actions.
Write Down Your Intentions…All. The. Time.
New Year’s Resolutions are written down at the beginning of the year…often never to be seen again. Not intentions. Intentions are written down regularly, because they are statements that we are often working on believing. These are statements of positive affirmations, of love and of kindness. If it does not come naturally to speak to yourself in that way, that makes these intentions that much more important. By repeating them, and writing them down daily or weekly, we are reminding ourselves that we deserve these acts of caring, love and kindness. If you happen to encounter a more challenging day, writing down your intentions even though you may not be in the head space to see them through, can help to bring that positive self talk to the forefront, where it needs to be.
Wishing you all the best this upcoming year and may your intentions ring true this year and beyond!
Written by: Norine Khalil, MSc, RD
Norine is a Registered Dietitian and one of the co-founders of One Elephant Integrative Health Team.