New Year’s resolutions can be a little fraught. We tend to make them in a frenzy of champagne-fueled optimism, where every bold statement seems entirely possible. “I’m never eating chocolate again!” or “I will go to the gym every day!” But then, morning comes and reality sets in… usually accompanied by a hangover. Suddenly, before you know it you’re swiping on Uber Eats for the nearest pizza delivery.
While it’s not the end of the world to break a New Year’s resolution – in fact, it’s almost as much a part of the tradition to break them as it is to make them – making promises to ourselves which we can’t keep for even 24hrs does bring with it a little negative self-judgement.
The New Year is a remarkable opportunity for reflection. It’s time to take pause, think about the things we achieved in 2016, and lay out some of our goals for 2017. This year, instead of focussing on resolutions, we encourage you to set some clear intentions.
Take your time
Instead of making wild midnight resolutions that are all-but impossible to keep, take the first few days of 2017 to really think about the intentions you would like to set for the year ahead. Most of us are still on holiday during this period, and January tends to be a little quiet work-wise for everyone. This is a great time to take a little space for yourself and set some goals for the year – before we’re swept back up into the hectic pace of normal life.
Focus on the big picture of what you’d like to achieve this year, rather than focusing on the specific actions you want to take or not take. Instead of thinking “I will not eat chocolate,” try and bring your focus to the real reason you’d like to do this – “I want to eat more healthy food, more often. I want to feel more energetic. I want to feel good within myself, and know that I’m giving my body the fuel to operate at it’s best.” Bigger picture goals are less restrictive, and allow you a little more flexibility in approach – which wards off the nasty “I’ve already failed, may as well stop trying” mindset.
Say yes, not no
Us humans are simple creatures. And we generally don’t like being told that we can’t do something. Instead of saying what you won’t do, phrase your intentions as “I will” statements. So, rather than “I won’t every skip yoga…” try to phrase it as “I will prioritise my yoga classes because they are important to me.” You’d be surprised what a difference can be made simply by shifting from negative to positive thinking – instead of feeling like you’re missing out, or taking something away, the focus becomes on what you are gaining.
Keep it real
This is a big one. There is no point in setting goals for ourselves that are simply not achievable. It can feel good in the moment to declare a big, bold resolution – almost like a rallying cry – but when the inevitable happens and you aren’t able to achieve it, you’ll be left feeling disappointed. Be honest with yourself about what’s realistic for you, and you’ll be much more likely to achieve your goals. The added bonus is that achieving goals feels really good, no matter how small they might seem. After a few wins, you’ll be even more motivated to tackle some of your more challenging intentions.
Check on it
Please don’t leave it till the final moments of 2017 to assess whether or not you achieved your goals! Checking in on your progress, and reassessing your intentions throughout the year, is crucial. Sometimes, life doesn’t go the way we expect. Maybe you’ll have a change of job, or relationship, or move to a new city. These unexpected changes might mean that the goals you set in January no longer apply come June. But, by keeping your eye on the big picture intentions you have set for the year, and regularly checking in to see how you’re progressing, will help keep you on track.