Have you ever tried intention setting? Before you start setting a bunch of resolutions to try and make up for the unusual year we’ve had, why not give something else a go this time around? These days it’s become more and more obvious – yes, even more than before – that boosting and caring for our well-being should be the ultimate goal. Your happiness, relationships at work and at home, your general fulfilment in life… yeah you guessed it, that’s all part of your well-being. And while resolutions might keep you focussed on a goal, they can also feel restrictive and stifling, especially if life doesn’t go as planned and you can’t reach that particular goal. So, for 2021, we recommend setting intentions instead.
You may not realise how beneficial they are – and how much more effective setting intentions is than resolutions – but they help take the pressure off and provide more of a how-to for improving your well-being and making those changes stick.
According to an often-cited study conducted by the University of Scranton in the United States, over 50% of people make serious New Year’s resolutions, and only 8% of those people actually keep them. Losing weight or stopping a bad habit like smoking are the most common promises people make when confronted with a new year. But then why do we abandon our gym routines or nicotine gum somewhere in mid-February?
Making a significant change in your life is not the product of a last-minute decision made on 31 December at 23:47. True change comes from making a well-informed choice to alter something in your life – meaning the right change for you – and that shift must be reasonable. Sometimes we’re a bit overzealous and overcommit ourselves, which is not at all conducive to actually realising our goals.
Intentions, not resolutions
Resolutions are, at their very core, setting us up to fail. They imply that if you can just go down one size, if you can get that next promotion at work – your life will be perfect. These goals also rely on external factors that we may have limited control over. And then we feel badly about ourselves when we give them up. Rather than making resolutions for 2021, it’s better to set intentions from within. Instead of measuring your life by your successes and failures, try setting intentions to enrich your life.
Intentions set us free to be our best selves.
Intentions have the power to ground us and help us find happiness in even the smallest of moments. They require us to slow down our racing minds and be present in the moment. When we take the time to focus on what’s happening this second rather than where we want to be in 3 months from now, we’re creating new neural pathways in the brain—which leads to long-lasting change for the better.
How intentions last longer than resolutions
It starts with setting an intention, and these intentions are like a how-to that leads to action. Because modern-day life is so fraught with overextension and overscheduling, it’s easy to forget how important self-care is. When you just set a goal you’re not really thinking about the purpose—or intention—behind it, you’re not practicing true self-care and you cannot expect a positive result.
Setting intentions directs the mind and gives us purpose. By setting intentions and keeping them close, we can facilitate the path that we choose. Focussing on your heart and what’s important to you creates clarity and self-discovery, so find what brings you joy! What gives you passion and purpose in life? An intention is much more powerful when it comes from a place of contentment rather than if it arises from a sense of lack or need.
Write down what you’re passionate about and tell your closest friends and/or colleagues what you’ll be focussing on for the next year. They can help you stay motivated and on the right path. Another tool that can help you keep it up is to create a mantra. Come up with some words or phrases that sum up your new intentions for the year. And we’re not talking, “I want to lose 50 pounds by the end of this year”. Make it positive and turn it into “I want to focus on taking care of my body this year, to live a healthier lifestyle.”. Now start each new day – and each day is a time for new beginnings – with your mantra to integrate your intentions into your actions.
You’re now in the perfection position to make the most of 2021. These tiny steps have ensured that your intentions are now part of your awareness, giving you the space and the proper mindset to ensure you can stick to your intentions. And remember, don’t try to force the outcome, it may not be as good for you as whatever naturally flows from your intentions.