We are 20 days in. How are your New Year’s resolutions going? Have you been going to the gym 4 times a week like you promised yourself? How’s that diet going? Still off the booze? How about sugar, or chocolate, or whatever food you decided to give up? Still smoke free? Still running every morning?
It’s ok if you answered no to these questions.
It’s normal. The thing is, making New Year’s resolutions is pretty much setting yourself up for failure. I mean, think about it, you give yourself all these tasks, things to do or not do, all at once, with no prior thought, structure or planning. You simply wake up on 1st January and decide to quit sugar, or go for a run each morning, or eat healthier, lose weight, or whatever. These are automatic, deeply ingrained habits that you have nurtured your whole life. It takes planning and preparation to change these things that have become a part of you over your whole lifetime.
Expecting to transform these habits overnight just because the date has changed, and then beating yourself up when you inevitably fail is unnecessary and actually really unfair. Especially when you have done no planning or mapping out of these goals.
Now I am not saying that these are not worthwhile goals, or that you should never try to achieve your health and lifestyle goals. On the contrary, I’m all about upgrading your lifestyle and health so you can live your dream life, on purpose, in joy and from the heart. I’m just saying that the expectations and methods connected to New Year’s Resolutions (i.e. massive expectations and no planning, effort or proper goal setting work) are not going to help you succeed. In fact, they actually negate success, because failing at resolutions damages confidence and makes you feel like you’ll never be able to change, so what’s the point.
But it’s not you, it’s the method that’s faulty.
It’s estimated that less than 10% of New Year’s resolutions are actually achieved. So you can see you’re not alone. The good news is that there are effective ways to set actionable, realistic and attainable goals, and techniques to help you achieve them.
I am a big fan of goal setting. Learning how to set proper goals and achieve them has changed my life. But I don’t just wait until 1st January to do this. I do it regularly throughout the year. I review my goals every month to make sure I’m still on track, to find out where I veered off course, and work out how to course correct and re-align with my goals.
I know that putting huge pressure on myself just once a year to achieve huge goals that I haven’t even planned out would never work. It’s just backwards thinking to me. It’s setting myself up for failure. That’s why I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore.
I do, however, set an intention for the New Year.
This is wildly different from a resolution. An intention is not something you do or stop doing; it’s more like an energy, feeling or attitude you want to invoke. Like a theme for your year. This information doesn’t come from your logical brain; it comes from deep inside, your inner wise person, your higher self, your soul. It is attached to your highest values and spiritual aspirations.
To discover yours, sit still for a while, in silence, and meditate to quiet your mind. Connect to your heart centre by focusing on the area just behind your breastbone. See if you can feel this area physically. When you feel connected to your heart, ask the question: ‘What do I need to focus on this year for me to flourish, to develop, to grow?’ Be still and wait for the answer. Have a pen and paper handy as there might be a lot of stuff coming up and you may want to journal about it. Hopefully you’ll hear your answer, but if you don’t that’s ok. Be gentle with yourself, let the practice go for today and try again tomorrow.
Examples of great intentions:
- Compassion and kindness
My intention for 2017 is COMMITMENT.
I want to really step up to the plate and commit to my life, my dreams, my health, my spiritual growth and my emotional needs even more this year. I want to stop procrastinating and wasting time on things that are not aligned with my goals and dreams. I want to live my life with flow and purpose, from my heart, and I need to COMMIT to all the things that will help me do that and drop the things that don’t.
Intentions work in two ways.
Firstly, because they are set in the positive and the present, they support to the Law of Attraction. Secondly, they come from within and are aligned to your deepest values, so are actually already a part of you. By drawing it out and focusing on it daily, you bring it to the forefront of your life and fully step into it. Setting an intention is like planting a seed in your mind.
Nurture your seedling and help it grow.
Make a vision board collage of images that represent your word and how you want it to manifest itself in your life this year. You can do this either on your computer using a collage making website or app (I made mine on Photovisi), or you can make it physically, by cutting out pictures and using small objects, and sticking them on an A4 piece of card.
For example, if your word/intention was ADVENTURE, you could add photos of places you’d like to go, new foods or cuisines you would love to eat, activities you want to try, or how about boarding pass stubs, gig tickets, tourist maps, seashells, stickers and glitter? The possibilities are endless and the process is really fun!
When you have finished, put your art where you can see it every day, preferably in your bedroom so that you can look at it before you go to bed and when you wake up. If you are not the arty type, you should still have your intention by your bed and reflect on it every day. Just write it on a piece of paper.
I hope this has given you some inspiration to drop the harsh resolutions and take a softer, more heart centered approach this year. Do you have any intention setting processes or rituals for the New Year? Share them below!