I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. At least, not in the traditional sense of it. I’ve tried them. Sometimes they worked. Sometimes they didn’t. Actually, it seems the whole world has this problem. If you've already set and messed up a resolution for 2019, take heart. So have 75% of people who made them. Really. This Forbes article says that less than 25% of people who make New Year's resolutions stick with them past 30 days. Why do some resolutions work and some fail?
Here’s what I believe it usually comes down to: there’s a big difference between setting a resolution out of frustration as opposed to recognizing the REAL reason you want to make a change in an area of your life. I think it comes down to realizing that a resolution (or any goal, really) needs intention driving it. Interested? Keep reading...
Goals are amazing for personal growth. I'm a big fan of goals. Maybe the clarification comes when goals are thoughtfully created versus made out of frustration, as resolutions sometimes are. Desperate for a change, we haul off and make a resolution without recognizing the behaviors driving that habit or why we would actually care enough to put in the hard work to change. However, real change comes from taking responsibility for our habits and actions and deciding that there’s a better way to do life. It takes honesty, courage, and self evaluation to own up to that. Many of us are just too tired or busy to give ourselves the gift of that introspection, so we set an unreasonable goal in the form of a thoughtless resolution to start on January 1st. You owe it to yourself to be honest and clear about y-o-u.
On the first page of her book Heart Talk, Cleo Wades says this: "Get honest with yourself. Be the person you are the clearest with. Be the person you are the most fearless with. These are the seeds that turn your life into a garden of authenticity." You can't really expect direction unless you're honest with yourself about where you are and where it is you want to go.
Need help clarifying your resolution? When you set one, stop and ask yourself why. Does your answer fit within your values and the person you want to be? Have you even thought about that?!? Maybe you should look into that first.... What exactly do you value? Who exactly do you want to be? That's the recipe for clarifying your resolutions: setting goals with intentions. A goal is much more exciting to work on at that point, because you have identified a strong desire for why you want it and how it will help you evolve into your best self.
Here's an example: Don't just set a goal to lose ten pounds this year. Set a goal to lose ten pounds and ask yourself why you want that. Why? Because I want to feel better. Because I want to have more energy. Because I want to be able to play with my kids or my grandkids. Because I want to fit into my clothes again. Because I want to have the stamina to take walks with my dog. Because I want to try that new dance class. Because I want to be more confident. Because I want to cut back my blood pressure medication. Because I want to be healthier.
Oh. Well that changes everything. You now have specific reasons why losing 10 lbs will help you feel better and improve your life. You've clarified how your goal (which, honestly, was kind of thoughtless before) fits into your VALUES, hopes, and self identity. Write these things down and read them weekly. Make it a powerful statement, like this: "I am a healthy, active person who likes to play with my grandkids (or walk your dog, or dance, or whatever your reason is). I value my myself so I make healthy decisions."
Now your values are tied to your goal... which means you now you have an intention, a very powerful thing. An intention is a mindset with deep, personal meaning. You'll be more likely to stick to your goal because it is very important to you. You've changed your perspective. It's personal. When you live intentionally you're living your best life.
I can’t tell you how many times in my life I made a resolution to get up earlier every morning. It never worked, and it’s still a struggle for me. It probably always will be because I’m not a morning person. I finally made some progress with this habit when I realized that most successful people aren’t lazy and don’t sleep in… they get up and work hard. I thought about what I could do with that extra time every morning instead of struggling to get out of bed. I could have more time for my morning routine and not rush so much. I wouldn't have to rush through my coffee-- which is one of my favorite parts of my day. I'd have more room for my prayer time, meditation time and devotional time. I might even have time to read or exercise some mornings. When I visualized a better way, I wanted that better way and it became much easier than simply forcing a goal on myself.
In contrast, last year I also decided I was going to learn the military phonetic alphabet. Just because. I thought maybe it would help me out when spelling things over the phone with my southern accent. You know, “alpha, bravo, charlie” and all that. It was just a goal with no real thought put into it. Predictably, I did not get around to it. Shocker. Ha-ha.
To me, it's important to realize that goals and intentions most definitely go together. We need both. But to facilitate change in my life, I need more of an INTENTION because it’s a perspective shift that rules that habit now, instead of forcing something out of frustration. And when I can zero in on this, it becomes my New Year’s ReVolution. I don’t use that word lightly, because it has quite literally changed my life.
Here’s one definition of the word revolution from Webster’s Dictionary:
Revolution: a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something; a change of paradigm
The next time you get frustrated with a habit (or lack of habit) in your life, don't get discouraged. View it as a pain point or a wake-up call to visualize a better way of life. Think of all the reasons you need to make that change. Visualize how much nicer life would be with that change. Find all the fuel you can for it, and be honest with yourself that it will be hard. There will be good days and bad days. (True story: I overslept this morning.) You have to be resilient. You have to be kind to yourself. You have to give yourself permission to be the person that YOU want to be.
The great news is this: You make it happen in small decisions every day. Small steps of consistency matter SO much more than sporadic grand attempts. Be intentional, specific and patient. Every goal can be broken down into small steps. Make the small steps easy. Starting is often the hardest part, so start tiny. You might be surprised at what a powerful effect one tiny step can have that breaks the inertia that has been holding you back.
The best news of all: You don't have to wait for January 1st of any year to start improving your life. You can start any day. And if you stumble (we all do), remind yourself that living intentionally is a goal within itself. It's a lifestyle and a process; not something to ever be fully accomplished. I've quoted this before, but Winston Churchill once said, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."
Be resilient. That's my word for 2019.
Here's to you living courageously and intentionally this year.
Love & Light.
Thank you for reading! Sign up for my Monthly Newsletter here. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube here:
Hi, I'm Blake. I love adventure, cooking, costume parties, wine, yoga, and reading...in that order. Follow my blog for yoga stuff, fitness tips, & healthy recipes...
• The Meaning of Namaste
• Confessions of a Self Care Hypocrite
• Living In The Age Of Social Media: Swapping Comparison for Gratitude
• My Exercise Manifesto
• 4 Exercise Hacks To Get YOU Moving