After a season of indulgence (from caloric to financial) it’s common to make resolutions hoping to become a ‘better’ version of ourselves.
Thou shalt fit into their ‘skinny jeans’, thou shalt only eat gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, paleo and organic, thou shalt drink a little less wine
But research shows that only about 8% of people actually achieve their resolutions, and this restrictive, often harsh approach to change is rarely effective. It just doesn’t feel good to approach resolutions with restrictive, militaristic effort and obsess over success and failure. But New Year’s resolutions aren’t like ordinary goals. They have a far more powerful effect on our psyche because the end of one year and the start of another symbolizes new beginnings, a new chapter, and another chance to achieve the things we’ve always dreamt of. So what if this year, we thought in terms of intentions rather than resolutions?
Intention comes from the Latin intendere, “to turn one’s attention,” and intentionem, “a stretching out.” While resolutions are firm and hard, intentions are flexible. They’re about where we direct our attention. They're about our daily priorities. They’re about being mindful. So today, I’m sharing a few of my favourite ways to create mindful, achievable goals to create your most intentional year yet.
5 Easy Tips for Crafting Mindful Intentions
- Consider Your Intentions
The best question to ask yourself is why you’re creating certain goals/resolutions. If your goal is ‘lose 10 pounds’ ask yourself – why do I really want to lose the weight? Is it because you want to feel better about your body or because low energy levels are keeping you from making the most of each day? Honoring the personal meaning behind an action can help us more successfully maintain resolve.
- Create Self-Serving Rituals
Looking to ‘get healthier’ in 2018 but don’t know where to start? Consider your habit-loop! Do you start your day in a hurry? Rush through getting ready, grab a bagel and head out the door to your nearest Starbucks for a venti latte? It’s difficult to achieve goals without changing our habit-loop. So instead of starting your morning in a rush, set your alarm 10 minutes earlier and begin your day mindfully. Now you have time to have a glass of lemon water, burn some palo santo, and prepare a healthy elixir and it’s going to be much easier to achieve that goal!
- Set Specific + Achievable Goals
An intention to ‘get healthier’ is great – but also totally vague and pretty unclear and when our goals are unclear it’s very difficult to maintain our intention to achieve them. So instead of saying ‘in 2018 I’m going to get healthier’ try breaking that goal down into actionable steps, for example:
- In the month of January I will make breakfast 3 times each week
- In June I will go to the Farmers’ Market 1 time each week and pick out a new vegetable to try
- In September I will attend a new workout class one time each week
- Focus on the Process
Rather than focusing on how difficult it’s going to be to achieve your goals, pay attention to the benefits of getting there. Studies have shown that intensely focusing on the results of our goals paradoxically makes us less likely to achieve them – so instead of focusing solely on an action (like losing those 10 pounds) focus instead on the steps that will help you get there (like scheduling more long walks on the beach or incorporating more plant based meals into your day). Welcome the process and find joy in the steps it takes to achieve your goals.
- Be KIND
No matter how well we design our intentions, there are going to be weeks and/or months where achieving them seems impossible. Life will get in the way and challenges will present themselves. The best thing you can do to get back on track and continue working towards your goals is to remember this fundamental life lesson: we are constantly beginning again — each day, each moment, each breath. So stop with the negative language and judgement and simply return to love, kindness and compassion. Keep doing the best you can – just one foot in front of the other.
At the end of the day, it’s exhausting to exert all of our energy fighting ourselves. My true belief is that when we invite in kindness and compassion – everything else has no choice but to fall into place. Happy New Year!