I’m not very good at keeping New Year’s resolutions. But I guess I’m in good company. Apparently, more than a third of New Year’s resolutions are broken by the end of January. Only 23% of people actually stick to their resolutions.
What does work for me is creating New Year’s intentions.
Intentions aren’t the same as resolutions
The definition of resolution is “a course of action determined or decided on,” or “a firm determination.” That sounds awfully final, doesn’t it? Not very flexible at all. Maybe that’s why my New Year’s resolutions haven’t lasted – they feel too much like something I have to do or should do, almost against my will.
Intention, on the other hand, is defined as “a course of action that one proposes to follow,” or “an aim that guides action.” To me, this sounds much more self-directed, more purposeful. Like a journey, with lots of room for discovery along the way. An intention is something I want to do.
Perhaps one of your resolutions is to find employment or to change your career in the new year. How compelling does that sound to you?
What if you created an intention instead?
Start by asking yourself what it is you really want from the work you do. Your first answer may very well be “money,” and that’s fine, but see if you can go deeper than that. You might come up with things like… making a difference in your community, creating beauty, helping or teaching others, solving problems. The answer will be a distillation of your unique values, strengths, and interests.
An intention is compelling and attainable, something you want to move toward. It involves envisioning the larger picture of who you want to be and then taking the steps needed to get there.
Completing the old and creating the new
I like beginning each year with an exercise called “Completing the Old and Creating the New,” which was sent to me by one of my coaches, Lisa Kramer. It involves spending some time with yourself to reflect on the past year and to create intentions for how you want your life to look in the new year.
Completing the Old
First, look at all the areas of your life, reflecting back on the past year.
- List all of your Wins, Successes, and Breakthroughs
- List all of your Losses, Disappointments, and Breakdowns
The point of this exercise is to be “complete” with (and then let go of) not only your disappointments and losses, but your past accomplishments as well. By letting go of everything, both positive and negative, you create space for new things to show up in your life. You’ll be ready to move on and to take on new opportunities.
Second, choose 5-7 lessons you’ve learned this past year that you want to bring forward into the new year. When thinking of what to include, remember that you’ll want to consciously use these lessons in the coming year.
For example, you may have learned:
- to listen to and trust your intuition
- the importance of honoring your values in your work
- to incorporate more fun into your life
- that it’s O.K. to fail.
Take time to refine your list and to clarify the lessons learned.
Creating the New
- Imagine ahead to December of next year
- Write a list of your Wins, Successes and Breakthroughs for that year
- Be specific and write them as though they have already happened
- Look at each area of your life and make the list as long as you like.
You may also wish to create a “right brain vision” for the coming year. This might take the form of a poem, story, collage, or drawing; anything that captures the essence and excitement of where you are stepping in the next year.
Ask yourself what you want to say ‘Yes’ to and ‘No’ to in order to make your New Year’s intentions a reality. Then create your plan for the coming year, setting out the steps you need to take to get there.
What intentions will you create for a fulfilling new year?