Having been a year unlike any other, many of us are eager to put 2020 behind us and start fresh, but decades of being a coach have taught me you're better off setting intentions instead of resolutions - and here's why...
Resolutions feel rigid and harsh. The word itself, meaning 'a firm decision to do or not do something', has an overtone of strictness that I find incongruent with how human nature and real life works.
Resolutions don't allow much room for error along the way. You either succeed or fail; you stick to your goals or stray from the path.
But real change doesn't work that way.
While forming healthier habits requires commitment and consistency, the reality is that regression and slip-ups are all part of the process and failing to make room for setbacks is one of the biggest reasons why resolutions fail. No one ever has a steady, linear progression from where they are now to where they want to be. No one.
Another issue I have with setting resolutions has to do with mindset. While a resolution looks at attaining a 'surface' desire, an intention goes to the heart of your 'why'.
Not seeing the scale budge or your clothes feel looser is not a great motivator come mid-February when the shiny new-year resolutions have dulled and gone stale, but wanting to love life in your own skin is something you can be inspired by over and over; when you look to the deeper purpose underlying your actions it's easier to keep working towards your goal, rather than aiming for some arbitrary number on a scale.
So how can you make intentions work for you so that they don't simply remain an idea and aspiration?
First, think of how you want to feel as you move through the coming year. What do you want to be at the core of all your actions? Perhaps it is to feel more energetic or happy or live life fully and with meaning. Whatever you choose, this is your intention.
Second, think about what will lead you in that direction.
Consider various areas of your life, such as mind, body, soul, work, family/relationships, and play/creativity. Make a list and select one or two goals from this list.
This is where the difference between resolutions and intentions are most evident. If my intention is to feel more energetic, I may set a goal to quit smoking, exercise more, eat healthily or lose weight.
If my intention is to feel less stressed and enjoy life more, I may set a goal to save more money/spend less money (so I don't lay awake at night fretting over finances), limit interaction with energy-draining people, or commit to learning mindfulness and stress-reduction strategies.
Third, create a plan. Without a map or structure, you won't know what steps to take nor which direction to go in.
Break it down into monthly, weekly, and daily action steps. Be sure to create a list of obstacles you anticipate will get in the way and brainstorm solutions on how you intend on circumventing them when they arise. Ensure you have a 'plan b' - and even a 'plan c' - for each scenario.
Fourth, start taking action and monitor your progress. You need to track your progress - or what is getting in the way - and have some form of accountability woven into your plan. Accountability and a shared sense of camaraderie are key to your success and two reasons why I created the membership site, The Kaliopi Nikitas Community, a wellness hub where you not only learn the steps to take, but actually implement wellness activities into your life.
Fifth, don't be afraid to ask for help. Change isn't easy, and living well is not a one-and-done; it requires ongoing effort and support along the way, especially during those times when life really gets in the way.
P.S. If you're wanting guidance making your intentions a reality, I invite you to check out The Kaliopi Nikitas Community and join a group of like-minded individuals with a common desire to live more fully and mindfully and your best life possible.