With December coming to a close, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on the previous year and look ahead to the new year. Like many, you probably are starting to think of your new year’s resolutions.
In years past, I have been excited for this fresh start. I was eager to turn over a new leaf and make positive changes: lose weight, eat healthy, exercise every day and save money. I started out with fire in my soul and a determination that I would keep my resolution all year.
By February, my fire started to slowly burn out and I was left feeling like a failure.
The problem with resolutions is that they make us feel constricted. If we eat the sweet treat or skipped a day at the gym, we feel as if we have broken a promise so we end up indulging more and stop going to the gym altogether. Drawing the line and making it “do-or-die” leaves us overwhelmed, pressured and stressed out.
Instead, I encourage you to set an intention for the new year instead of a resolution. Intentions focus more on the journey and the long-term change.
Julie K. Jones, Ph.D., says “intentions are about reconnecting with our authentic selves. It enables us to reconnect with what we need — mind, body and spirit. Intentions seek to address this residue from within in order to achieve change, whereas resolutions most often set awareness on the achievement of something externally. The difference is subtle but important.”
How to Set Intentions
1. Re-evaluate the past year. Think back over this past year and identify how you felt most of the time. Were you stressed out and overwhelmed with all your commitments and obligations? Were you so busy taking care of everyone else that you forgot to take care of yourself? Did you take the time to do activities that filled you with joy?
Looking back over the past year gives us a chance to reflect on both our failures and successes. Be completely honest with yourself and identify where you struggled. These trials and tribulations can be used as learning experiences that help align ourselves with what we truly seek in our lives.
2. Give yourself permission to dream. When you give yourself permission to dream, you get clarity on your desires deep within. Creating a mental picture in your head steers you in the direction you want to go. Imagining yourself already at your ideal weight or already vacationing at a beautiful destination opens up your mind to believe all these things are possible for you.
If you think “this is never going to happen,” guess what? It never will happen. Instead, let your imagination run wild and just give yourself permission to dream. Feed your brain pictures of all the things and experiences you want to manifest. Start believing all things are possible and start dreaming big.
When you change your thoughts and take a leap of faith in the not yet seen, the magic will start to begin! You’re not supposed to know how to make it happen. If you knew how, you would have already done it. Your job is to have a complete unwavering faith and determination that it will happen.
3. Write it down. Instead of making a rigid resolution, write down your intention or how you want to feel. Do you crave being more present? Do you want more calm? Do you want to wake up feeling more confident? Do you want to feel a drive and a purpose?
I suggest writing down the top three feelings you want to have this year. Then use these feelings to direct your path moving forward.
If my intention is to feel healthier and stronger, then I will go through my day seeing if the things I am doing and the thoughts I am having match my intention. I will become aware if I am treating my body with the love and respect it deserves.
For example, is working through lunch creating a healthier lifestyle? Is sitting at my desk and not moving my body making me stronger? Is constantly going from one thing to the next respecting my time?
If your intention is to feel healthier and stronger, go through your day asking, “Is this what it looks like to treat my body with love?”
If not, make adjustments.
If my intention is to feel more present, then I will go through my day being aware if I’m in the moment.
For example, if I’m checking emails on my phone while my child is asking me a question I can ask myself, “Is this what it looks like to be present?”
Nope. Instead, I put my phone out of sight when I walk in the door from work or I plan specific times throughout the day to check my emails.
Once you are clear on your intentions and how you want to feel in the new year, have those words be at the front of your thoughts and actions.
One tangible way to do this is by posting sticky notes with your intentions (healthy, calm, present) all over your house. This serves as a constant reminder of how you want to go through your day.
This year, instead of making resolutions, set clear intentions that will help align you with your purpose. Move forward this year with clarity on the dreams and desires in your heart. You have the ability to change the entire direction of your life with the intentions you set.
Happy New Year! May you have 20/20 vision in 2020 and may you all be blessed with peace, love, joy – and especially good intention.
To start this year with a clear intention, sign up for my Vision Board Girls Night Out at The Vaults Workspace on Jan. 16 from 7-9 p.m. or join me for an all-day women’s retreat Jan. 12 at Innsbrook Resort. To sign up, visit amywagenknecht.com/events.