Can you believe that it is already the end of a decade? 2020 is upon us and that means it is time to set positive new intentions for ourselves. I use the word intentions because I’m not a fan of making resolutions. Why? More often than not, resolutions are unspecific, open-ended goals that we create without any authentic meaning behind them. We think of them as quick-and-easy ways to improve our lives, which is why so many of these resolutions fizzle halfway through the year. One of the most common (and unsuccessful) resolutions is, “I want to lose weight.” While this may be a wonderful goal to strive for, why are you doing it? What is the true meaning behind it? Are you doing it for yourself or for others? Are you doing it to feel healthier and happier in your own skin? Typically, we create resolutions like this without a solid plan or purpose. As a result, we get burnt out and don’t enjoy the process of striving to reaching our goals. We don’t know what steps to take so we push ourselves in unhealthy ways, just to feel a sense of accomplishment.
That’s why I am a big fan of setting intentions rather than resolutions. Intentions are defined as having a course of action that you intend to follow. Essentially, an intention is a goal or vision that dictates your thoughts, decisions, actions and attitudes. When you set an intention, you are making it clear to yourself (and others) what you plan to do AND how you plan to do it.
Wouldn’t it be nice to enter 2020 with a clear set of positive intentions? How would it feel to know that you are staying on track with your goals without getting stressed and overwhelmed? If you are one of the many who struggle with keeping your resolutions, here are a few tips to help you out.
- Set a SMART intention: It’s time to get crystal clear on what it is that you want to achieve. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based. By following this model, you can get hyper-focused on what you want and when you want to achieve it. For example, if your goal is to eat more plant-based foods, your could structure your intention this way: S= Incorporate more vegetables into my diet, M= Three vegetables each day, A= Always include at least one vegetables in a dish, R= The nutrients in the vegetables will promote wellness in my body, T= I cook every day so there is an opportunity to do this with each meal
- Write down three affirmations: It was Louise Hay that put affirmations on the map when she discovered how powerful they were for her own journey to health and happiness. An affirmation is a statement that allows you to confirm something to be true. It is a positive phrase that can help you overcome any self-doubt, negative self-talk and self-sabotaging beliefs. When you set a specific intention, write out a few affirmations that relate to your goal. Put these statements in a place where you will see them every day, as a way to remind yourself to stay focused on your goals. Say them to yourself while taking a shower, driving to work or even as a mantra while meditating. Repeating these positive affirmations over and over again will help solidify your intentions, allowing you to achieve your goals.
- Track your progress: If you needed an excuse to go out and get yourself a cute new blank book, here it is! When it comes to setting our intentions, it’s important to track our progress. Keeping a written record of all that you are doing can help you stay on track and see how far you are coming along. It also can give you deeper insight into what is working for you and what is not. Keep this notebook in a spot where you will remember to write in it each day. Many people find it helpful to place on their nightstand, where they can easily record their day’s progress, right before going to bed.
- Get some support: There is nothing more difficult that trying to achieve a goal when you feel totally alone. That is why it is so important to get a support system in place. Not only will this boost your confidence, it gives you a sense of accountability to keep working hard. The good news? We have social media! Why not share a post stating your intentions and see if any of your friends want to join you on the journey? You can even start a private group to create a sense of community and ongoing support for one another. Strength in numbers is a powerful thing, so be sure to find as many people as you can to support and guide you along the way.
- Know your “why”: There may come a time when you feel like things just aren’t going the way you hoped they would. Your progress may seem slow and you may lose your motivation to keep moving forward. That’s okay! After all, you are only human. In moments like these, it is important to revisit the “why” of your intentions. Why did you set this intention in the first place? Why will this improve your life? Getting back to your purpose is a powerful reminder and motivator to keep moving forward confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Written by Margaux J Rathbun, NTP