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New Year Intentions or Resolutions?

Updated: Feb 6

You might say they're one and the same, but I as a Toronto career and life coach found resolutions to be weighty and uninspiring; perhaps from all the memories where I was determined to do certain things, only to not do them at all.

This all changed a few years back when I reframed New Year Resolutions as New Year Intentions. For me, resolutions were more like promises 'I had to' keep whereas intentions connote design, direction, and purpose. One felt like shackles and the other freedom. Here are the intentions I set last year on New Year's Eve:

  • Grow my coaching practice.

  • Get certified.

  • Feel fulfilled.

  • Meditate.

  • Exercise.

  • Mindful spending.

  • Joyful living.

I can confidently say I have accomplished all and want to continue (yes, I enjoy professional development). Now while my interpretation of resolutions did not work for me, I imagine it works for some.

Promises are not wholly bad as they can build integrity, discipline and confidence; however, if making promises or resolutions leads to disappointment, guilt, and shame then perhaps you might want to reframe your New Year wishes.

I see some clients resolved in changing a particular pattern, but then "beat themselves up" for not doing what they wanted. Unfortunately, when you are too busy beating yourself up you tend to unconsciously repeat the same pattern as you are coming from a place of guilt and shame. This is what happened to me when I made New Year 'resolutions;' I would beat myself up for not keeping my word and feel ashamed.

Now, I don't experience those feelings. With intentions instead of resolutions, I don't feel the pangs of an unfulfilled promise, gyms don't get my money year long despite only going in January and February and I don't feel embarrassed relaying what my resolutions/intentions are when people ask.

If you can relate to 'resolution let down,' here are some intention setting exercises you can do. I recommend you do these in a quiet space with no distractions:

  • Compose a 2017 mission statement.

  • Write a letter pretending it is the end of the upcoming year and write all the things you became and accomplished in 2017.

  • Visualize what you want in 2017 for 5-10 minutes regularly (do it in detail, engaging the senses).

  • List your intentions down in writing.

  • Tell your intentions to a friend.

  • Create a 2017 Vision Board.

Intentions are powerful, however, intentions alone will not cut it. Action, whether inspired or not (hopefully it is if it is from an intention), is key.

Resolution disappointment and frustration happen because of entrenched habits. Habit is the reason your bout of New Year inspiration to have healthier habits does not last for more than a month or two. If your healthier habits don't become routine, and you don't identify with your new changes, then you can slip back to your old ways once the enthusiasm of the New Year wears off.

Consistent action, habit replacement and belief in your goals realize your intentions. Set your intentions (or resolutions if, again, that works) and then add it to your schedule to back them up. Be conscious of the cues, cravings and pay offs from the actions that don't serve you and replace it with actions that do. Remember, the strongest intention -whether to change or not- will win out.

Happy New Year! I wish the very best intentions and actions in 2017.


Ps. If you would like support in your New Year goals, apply here to see if I can help.

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