While the holidays are a time for cheer and celebration, they can also be a time of high stress between the year-end deadlines, parties, travel, and pressure to buy the right gifts. Many of us cope with this stress by overindulging—but it’s okay because come Jan 1, we’ll be our best selves, right? Not exactly.
According to U.S. News, 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February. If the point of setting resolutions is to improve our lives, why are they so hard to keep?
One could argue that it’s because the goals we set...
- are overly restrictive or ambitious: when did telling yourself you’re going to workout 7 days a week after being sedentary ever work?
- put too much pressure on being the one answer to our problems: I’ll be happier if only I…
- are framed in a negative way: I want to lose weight vs. I want to gain a healthy lifestyle.
These reasons may be partially true but I think it comes down to the fact that we don’t understand the why behind our resolutions. Without understanding the why, our resolutions feel like obligations—another “to-do” item on our already extensive lists—and they emphasize what we don’t have versus what we do have.
To get to the why, we need to change our frame of thinking from setting a resolution to setting an intention.
Setting an intention means choosing how you want to show up in the world. It’s an invitation to be more mindful in designing a lifestyle that supports your values. When you live in alignment with your values you feel a greater sense of fulfillment and happiness. And the best part about it is there’s no guilt or shame around not maintaining it because unlike a resolution, there is no specific “outcome” that you would be failing.
To understand the why you can ask yourself: if I stuck to my resolution…
- How would my life be and feel different?
- What would I do that I'm not doing now?
- Who would I surround myself by?
- Where would I live, work, go to dinner, etc.?
Once you understand your bigger-picture vision, you can choose an intention that captures the essence of what you want to cultivate in your life.
For example, I’m an analytical, pragmatic, people-pleaser who wants my intuition to have greater presence in my decision-making processes. So, last year my intention was to “do what feels good.” This is not a resolution or a goal. There’s no metric attached to it. There’s no start or end date. You can’t cross it off of a list. It’s simply a guiding principle.
Setting this intention enabled me to exchange what I thought I should be doing for what I truly wanted to be doing. What was the result? I had fun! It’s easy to forget that life is meant to be fun. I let myself date a man who wasn’t “my typical type,” which taught me to not have a type. I quit a job and left a team that I loved because I wanted to explore my curiosity for entrepreneurship. I lived on an organic blueberry farm to learn more about sustainable agriculture and organic farming. I moved across the country to San Francisco and started my own business.
My intention informed my goals. So, I’m not saying, “don’t have goals.” What I am saying is that an intention can create awareness around what you truly want for yourself and allows you to say yes to the things that help you get there. This year I will again commit to setting an intention and I’m so excited to choose it! Who’s with me?
About the Author
Briana is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Founder of Urban Wellness SF. After understanding the challenges of being overworked and undernourished at an ed-tech start up, international bank, and top advertising agency, she founded Urban Wellness SF to help make healthy living easy for busy professionals so that they can have more sustainable careers and happier, healthier lives. Briana does in-person coaching in San Francisco and virtual coaching nationwide.