For most of my life, a new year meant new resolutions. The list looked just about the same as everyone else’s list. The most common resolutions, according to Statista Research Department, are
Resolutions like these were well-meaning and increased my sense of control over the future. They made me feel like I cared about myself and was able to make better choices. Now imagine how I felt when I failed. Does any of this resonate with you? According to U.S. News & World Report, about 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. In fact, most are abandoned by just the middle of February!
Why? Mainly because resolutions are all-or-nothing external achievements based on what we think we should be doing. With that mindset, we either succeed or we don’t, and since we usually don’t, we feel bad about ourselves and have even less sense of control over our future than we did before we made the resolution.
Enter intention setting. It’s a New Year’s, new start game changer. It works like this: Instead of listing goals, intention setting means we make plans. We move toward emotional and behavioral destinations and start journeys that may last a lifetime. We create intentions based on what we would wish for ourselves and others, not based on what we think we should wish for ourselves and others. Intentions are from the heart, not just the head, and there is no pass or fail. Intentions can expand and change, and self-awareness is the reward.
How to set intentions? Here are some easy steps:
Change takes time, so, unlike resolutions, expect gradual approximations of your intentions. Half the fun is getting there, and the other half is watching them—and you—change and grow. It’s also OK to change your intentions as you continue to grow. Things may happen during the year that may cause you to reflect and re-orient. After all, we can’t be perfect, so be kind to yourself. Set intentions, not resolutions, and enjoy the new year.