Making Resolutions That Stick

Did you have a New Year’s resolution for this year? Did you achieve it? Did you try but at one point stop and then continued to live life as you did before? Did you try at all?

Why is it that year after year we keep making resolutions to do things and then give up part way? Maybe, just maybe, we’re doing it wrong.

For this new year, I challenge you to have intentions instead of resolutions.

Language is very powerful and affects the way we think about things. When we make a resolve, it feels very absolute. When we make a mistake or do something contrary to our resolve, it can be very defeating and our resolve tends to just fade away. Have you ever experienced this?

For example, say you make a resolve to workout every day, but life got busy and you missed a few days. Your brain starts to think, well what’s the point? I’ve already broken my New Year’s resolution. And then you just stop. You think, okay maybe next year I’ll do it. Newsflash, you probably won’t. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

When you have intentions, however, it’s a much more fluid concept. Your brain is more relaxed when it doesn’t have the stress of having things you “must” do. When you remove the must, you make room what what you can do.

Often times the resolutions we make are very specific and demanding.

I want to workout and lose 20 pounds!
I will exercise every day!
I will cook at least 5 times a week!
I will save more and be better with money!

Okay, so you have a goal. How do you go about doing it? Yes, you might make a workout regimen, start meal planning, or try to budget. These things are important and definitely a step towards completing your goal—but you’re missing the very first step.

The first step is finding motivation. Identify why it is that you want to do these things.

I want to work out and lose 20 pounds! I want to be in a better shape than I am now.
I will exercise every day! I want to be healthier.
I will cook at least 5 times a week! → I want to eat healthier and save money doing it.
I will save more and be better with money! I want to be financially stable.

After you’ve identified the reason, make that your intention for the next year.

I intend to be in a better shape than I am now. I intend to be healthier. I intend to eat healthier and save money doing it.

After you’ve come up with your intention for the next year, brainstorm a list of ideas on how you can attain it. Your ideas can be as specific and not-specific as you want. I like to keep a healthy mix of the two. Remember to be realistic. If you weren’t working out at least a few times a week this year, what are the chances you’ll work out everyday for the next year?

  • Come up with workout regimen
    • How often? What will you do?
  • Come up with a meal plan
    • Take a look at how often you eat out right now. Which meals can you realistically cut out on? Do you have the time to cook these meals, and will it cause you stress to do so?

Remember that these ideas are ways to attain your goal, they are not the goal itself. Don’t become attached to these ideas, because there are always multiple ways to reach your goal. When you become attached to ideas themselves, you become blind-sighted and you’ll lose sight of what is actually important.

Now that you have some ideas, start doing them now. For me, the key to succeeding is to start immediately. Once you have a plan, there’s no need to wait until the new year to start. If you make a plan now, but hold off on it, you’ll always continue to hesitate.

And because you have intentions for the new year, these plans that you make will work towards that. So when you don’t follow your exact workout regimen that you planned, you haven’t broken your resolution. You’re still working towards your intentions. As long as you still intend to achieve your goal, it’s okay to make mistakes along the way—they’re just detours!

So, what are your intentions for the next year?

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