“My New Year’s resolution is…” I cannot tell you how many times I have said that phrase and I do not think I have ever really fulfilled those resolutions. Goal setting is a fundamental part of life, but it can also be a source of great disappointment and anxiety due to the restrictions we often place on ourselves to achieve these goals. Because of this, myself and many others are switching things up this year. Sure, we all have baggage that we carry with us into the new year that we would like to resolve, but sometimes the way it is stated is not helpful or healthy. Rather than setting resolutions we are setting intentions.
Instead of saying, “I need tolose 20 pounds,” or, “I need to go to the gym every day,” try saying, “I will do my best to lose 20 pounds,” and, “I will do my best to go to the gym every day.” We are not robots. We cannot be perfect. Setting such grand expectations for ourselves can lead to undue stress and with everything else going on day-to-day, why should we cause stress for ourselves? Remember my article about stress last year? Worry about the things you have control over and do the best you can do when you can. Besides, stress can often disrupt our day-to-day actions and the make your goals even harder to achieve. I am not saying you should not set goals at all because you must have something to work towards. Goals are the end game, the bigger picture. Intentions are the day-to-day actions you take to work towards that goal, like mini goals.
I have found that writing my intentions down every day, or however often, helps to serve as a reminder. Again, you must keep in mind that nothing is perfect. Your day may not go exactly how you want, and those intentions might change as the day progresses, and that is okay. If I wake up and intend to take a walk outside, but the forecast suddenly changes, as it often does in Oklahoma, I am not going to beat myself up about it because I cannot control the weather. I will just scratch that off my list and do laps in my living room! Or I can take it as a sign that it just was not meant to happen today, and I will use that opportunity to do something else on my list instead.
It is okay to slip up sometimes. It is okay to skip a workout and eat the cookies at the work luncheon. You can do these things and still reach your goal. There is no need to beat ourselves up when we give into to a few temptations here and there or just simply have a dreadful day. Changing the way our minds think of the things we wish to achieve is huge. It can turn your whole attitude towards an action around. If I say I need to do something that makes it feel like it is a chore and a burden which, in turn, makes me not want to do that thing. When I recognize that I cannot be perfect and messing up from time to time is inevitable, then it feels more like motivation. I am more motivated to do the things I intend to do to achieve my goal when I take a positive and realistic approach. That is what setting intentions to achieve a goal is all about. So, give setting intentions a try this year. Change it up and see how it works for you. You might surprise yourself and be thankful you did it in the end.