I’ve stopped making New Year’s Resolutions. Why? Because I don’t keep them! I just can’t seem to focus on a single goal for an entire year. (Plus, if I miss a day (or week!), I find it tough to jump back on the horse.)
Maybe you’re the same way. If you are, join me in skipping the resolution and doing things a little differently.
It all began at last year’s New Year’s party. At twenty minutes to midnight–between silly photos, off-beat dance moves, and sips of champagne–I asked a friend what her resolution was.
Her response? “Oh, I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.”
That’s fair, a lot of people don’t. But being the inquisitive person I am, I pressed on. “Do you have a goal or intention for the year?”
This was her game-changing response: “I choose a word for the year, a single intention to focus on. With that in mind, I try to shape everything around it.”
Now that’s an idea I can get on board with (and did for 2015)!
Unlike a resolution, which is goal-oriented (i.e. what do you want to do or stop doing?), an intention is a bigger picture, a broader theme, or a deeper concept. It is the why behind the what.
Your yearly intention gives you an over-arching focus, encourages personal growth, and (the best part!) creates long-lasting change. Click To Tweet
How can you set an intention for your year?
Step 1: Set an intention you can (and want to) commit to.
Begin by asking yourself these questions:
- How do I want to personally grow?
- What changes do I want to see in my lifestyle and myself over the next year?
- What do I value and why?
Is there a word (or maybe two or three) that jump to mind? Maybe you have an extensive list (I sure did!). Grab a pen, write down each word, and begin the selection process.
(If you have more than one word, that’s totally fine! Writer and Speaker, Chris Brogan, calls 3 his magic number.)
Step 2: Find specific ways to practice your intention.
Since an intention is a theme or concept, it’s a bit more abstract than a resolution. So it’s important to create practical ways to demonstrate your intention to yourself.
Let’s go with losing weight, which is probably the most common New Year’s resolution. Shift this into a one-word intention: Health. How can I practice this? Hit the gym at least three times per week. Take up a yoga class. Go for a walk at lunch. Stop eating fast food.
Take your intention and create practical, measurable goals within it.
Step 3: Keep yourself accountable.
Write it down. Put a piece of paper with your intention beside your bed, on your bathroom mirror, or as your phone or desktop background. You might also consider keeping a journal.
Say it out loud. Repeat your intention when you wake up and at certain points throughout the day. You’d be surprised at the power of verbal reminders.
Share your intention. Tell a friend, family member, or partner. It can be helpful to have someone check in on you. Plus, you may even inspire them to set an intention of their own.
Symbolize your intention. Wear something that reminds you of your commitment. I knew someone who tied a red string around his wrist, and, every time he complained, he had to switch wrists. After one day, he became so annoyed with it, but it kept him mindful of his intention to cultivate gratitude!
Step 4: Reap the benefits!
Having an intention with a clearly laid-out application adds an element of mindfulness to your daily thoughts, actions, and interactions. Embrace the initial struggle and keep track of your personal growth with monthly or quarterly reflections (businesses have evaluations – why shouldn’t you?).
Happy New Year!
Be well and be mindful.