While the holidays are about celebrating, connecting, sharing and exchanging gifts, it’s how we choose to begin the New Year that will continue to make life merry and bright. The tradition for many people is to set New Year’s resolutions, despite the fact that most of us fail miserably when it comes to setting such high expectations for ourselves. We’re human after all and resolutions are intimidating. Okay maybe I’m speaking for myself here LOL. If resolutions work for you, congratulations you’re among the 20% who succeed; the rest of us need a better way and I might have found it.
Work on your strengths, not your weaknesses. How many of your New Year’s resolutions have been about fixing a flaw? – Jonathan Haidt
I think the tricky part about New Year’s resolutions is that when we’re setting them, we’re focusing on our vulnerabilities, thinking that if we shed forty pounds, give up smoking by March or start waking up at 4:30 am to get to the gym we’ll be happier. But that’s just not how happiness works. Happiness is nurtured by taking the pressure off and setting ourselves up for success with kindness.
Want to focus on fitness in 2022? Then write down your intention, which could be something like: I want to feel fit and fantastic. Then look for and create opportunities to make that happen. Invite someone to walk with you, join a walking club or look for fitness classes on line. Take responsibility for your intention and repeat it often. A system that has proven to work is to write your intention on sticky notes, placing them on your bathroom mirror, your fridge and on your front door, to remind you to take on the day with your intention in mind. We need bite sized pieces instead of the whole enchilada to help us feel that we’re being successful.
Resolutions are goals with no clear path to get to them whereas intentions are more like a guide for our behaviour. I propose that we take our power back and set intentions instead of resolutions.
“One resolution I have made, and try always to keep is this: to rise above the little things.” – John Burroughs
Patience has been a challenge for many of us during this Pandemic pause. There are so many reasons we can feel frustrated because we feel restricted or maybe ignored. Choose an intention that helps you feel better, such as: I will be more patient. This means being more patient with yourself first and then with everyone you encounter in the day.
The handy little reminders on your mirror and door or beside your computer will prompt you to remember what’s important to you, especially when impatience wants to pop up. Saying to yourself “I will be more patient” calms frustration and creates space for a different result. After all, the only person we hurt when we act on our frustration is ourselves. Even when you aren’t patient, be kind to yourself and remember you can do better next time.
“Do the best you can until you know better; then when you know better, do better.” -Maya Angelou
Intentions recognise our willingness to do better so we can feel better. It’s all about improving our behaviour in small increments and being present to our circumstances, so we feel that we’re in charge of our response to any situation. The little wins add up to big ones over time, trust me. The pressure of resolutions creates an underlying stress and because resolutions are focused on the future, we’re actually delaying our happiness until we reach the goal, which in many cases we never do. Setting an intention allows us to choose and develop healthy habits that are both achievable and meaningful.
Happy New Year and cheers to having the best intentions for 2022.