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Try Intentions not Resolutions: A New Way to Plan in 2021

Try intentions not resolutions. You'll thank me later - believe me.

Many people I know start off the year with their New Year's resolutions. I never really got into them. Maybe I was too lazy? Maybe I just knew so many of these resolutions went unfulfilled? Not sure exactly why until I made a point of looking into it a bit more.

How well do resolutions work, anyway?

A common definition of resolution is "...a firmness to deal with something successfully...."

This all sounds really good in terms of a New Year's Resolution right? The resolution sounds something like this. I will lose 15 pounds. Or I will have a better work/life balance next year. I will read more.

When stated like this all of these resolutions are looked at, like every other resolution, as a simple pass or fail. Either I make it and I am successful or I do not and it is yet another resolution I have failed at. According to U.S. News & World Report, the failure rate for New Year's resolutions is said to be about 80 percent, and most lose their resolve by mid-February. Maybe you convince yourself this year will be different. I can really do it! Well, I wish you luck. I really do, but the stats are certainly not in your favour.

Shifting your mindset from resolutions to intentions

Meanwhile, a common definition of intention is the "...determination to act in a certain way..."

If we look at the previous common resolutions and state them in the form of an intention it might look like the following:

- I will lose 15 pounds (resolution) --> I intend on being healthier.

- I will have a better work/life balance --> I intend on spending more time with my family.

- I will read more --> I intend on setting aside more time to read.

The transformation that comes from intentionality

These subtle, yet powerful, changes move you into, instead of a pass versus fail situation into a space where you can more easily recognize progress.

Recognizing incremental progress substantially increases one's feeling of accomplishment and allows for one to build success after success.

For example, I think we can all agree losing weight is a difficult task. So often we hear, perhaps in our mirror, the stories of failure after failure in this regard. We oftentimes underestimate what combination of activity, diet, discipline and time it takes to achieve our "goal weight". We ridicule ourselves when we make a wrong step along the way. That greasy burger we ate, the lazy Sunday afternoon we took or a weekend getaway that took you away from your "routine" you built. All of these mistakes come with the guilt and feeling of failure which compounds with each instance. In fact, I have read articles that suggest more often than not, people are worse off when making resolutions than never having started one.

In the losing 15 pounds example and those instances of failure along the way - if someone was instead looking at the intention of being healthier the following could occur. The greasy burger we ate was a one-off occurrence at lunch and the rest of the day was filled with a very balanced approach to our meals and we went for a brisk walk during our afternoon break - way to go me! The lazy Sunday afternoon included a great nap. We have read about the benefits of sleep for our overall health. Sleeping actually increases our ability to be active while awake. And our weekend getaway really allowed for us to devote time to our mental well-being. This too is an important factor for overall health.

Please do not look at intentions as being a way to move away from the discipline attached to a resolution. Just do not allow that discipline to paralyze your judgement of yourself.

Discipline within the realm of intention means keeping your eye on the overall prize while still being focused on incremental successes and not just a pass or fail.

So, about thanking me... I hope it's not too late for you to consider an intention instead of a resolution? If you are struggling with one right now, consider shifting to the intention instead. You will be much happier- which if you know me by now - is a victory in itself.

Namaste friends. Let's talk soon. Be well.


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