It’s a new year, and that brings an uptick in resolutions, goal setting, and being “better”, doing “better” and conquering new things. And while that is great, it can also put a lot of pressure on you to figure out big things, or do something that may not actually resonate you. And what can also happen, after the newness of the year fades and the goal or resolution you set falls to the wayside, the negative self talk floodgates can open, making you feel worse about yourself and your abilities.
The whole “New Year, New You” thing is driven by several industries that want to make money off of you, your hopes, your best intentions, and also your insecurities. If you buy their thing or take their class, they tell you you will succeed, you will become lovable, you will be whole and everything you ever wanted will be yours.
Well guess what? You’re already lovable and whole. You don’t need that membership, class, clothing, cleanse, detox, reset, or subscription delivery service to get that. It’s already inside of you.
You do not need to make goals, resolutions, or set intentions if you don’t want to. You don’t have to jump on the bandwagon. You’re an adult and you get to make your own choices.
Take a moment to check in with yourself and ask yourself, “Do I really want to set resolutions, goals or intentions right now?” If the answer is no, that’s okay! Go on living your life. Maybe you’ll want to do them later, maybe you won’t want to do them ever! Consider this a permission slip to honor that.
If your answer is yes, you do want to set some goals, resolutions and intentions, but you’re not sure how make them work for you, I’ve got 3 different approaches for you to think about or choose from. Go with the one that fits your personality or interests you the most. And if one doesn’t work for you, try another.
An intention is defined as “a determination to act in a certain way” and can be as specific or as broad as you want. You can set intentions for any amount of time: day, week, month or year and you can adjust them at any time. You can set as many or as little as you want, depending on what speaks to you.
Some intentions could be:
Practice more self care.
Connect with the people I love.
Focus on the good in your life.
Intentions, in my opinion, can be best for people who want direction and also want something a little more flexible. Intentions can be more open ended and embody whatever you want or need.
If you do set them, it can be helpful to write them out and speak them out loud. Sharing them with others can help it feel more real and like it could come fruition more. Putting them somewhere you can see them each day is also very helpful.
You can check in your intentions at end of each day or week, whether that’s at the beginning or end of each day, in your journal or another daily practice or ritual time that you have.
Choose a Word as a Guiding Principle
You may not find that a list of intentions works for you or it seems overwhelming, you can choose one word that encompasses a general direction/idea/feeling you want to guide your year. You can also see as a theme, too.
Take some time to think about the things you want to do this year, and see if there’s a common theme. Or, depending on your values, maybe there is one value you really want to focus on more.
When you pick a word and decide what that word means, make it visual and put in as many places as you can (phone screensaver, post-its on the bathroom mirror, fridge, bedside table, front door), so you’re reminded of the word and act on it.
I prefer setting a word for the year because I like the idea of a theme and a value that I can come back to as a guiding point for the year.
For example, my word for 2018 was Connection. So I made a point to do things, go places, take on projects, and create things that would foster or lead to more connection. That lead me to go to more in person events, join a mastermind, and make a point to spend time with people I love.
I recently recorded an entire episode of the Small Steps podcast on how to find this word, so if you want to listen to how to find that word and how it can play out, you can head here.
Set Goals AND Make It Work For You
If you do want to set goals, make sure you set goals that work for you. Most of the time, when goals don’t pan out, it’s not because you’re a failure, but it’s because they’re not things we can really wrap our heads around.
Let’s take “I want to eat better this year.” It’s a common goal or resolution for some people, which in theory is great. It has a great intention, and it’s also missing some important details to turn it into something actionable. Also, the more specific you are, the easier it is to break this down and make it more actionable.
WHAT does better mean to you? Better means something different to everyone and different things at different times. Does better mean you’re not drinking soda? Eating more greens? Trying a bigger variety of foods?
HOW are you going to eat better? Are you going to make more of your own meals? Start using a meal kit service or meal planning service to get some ideas? Plan out your meals in general? Eat out one day less a week? Start bringing your lunch to work? Start meal prepping and grocery shopping more consistently?
WHAT does success or meeting this goal look like? Success can be something that grows as you work on this goal or resolution as well. If you break down what success looks like after a week, month, a few months, and the whole year, you can do a few things. You can measure your success, adjust accordingly if you’re not meeting your goal (which is 100% okay and very real life, BTW), and stay motivated and invested in the goal when you’re seeing that progress and success.
So, if you want to make “I want to eat better this year” a more actionable and specific goal, it could look like a few things, depending on your overall WHY behind the goal:
“I want to eat more vegetables with each meal.”
“I want to cook more meals at home with whole foods.”
“I want to meal prep and meal plan each week.”
From here, these goals are easier to break down into actionable steps to make it happen.
If you want to eat veggies with each meal, you can:
-Set a number of veggies you want with each meal
-Look into what vegetables are in season in your area
-Check out your local farmers market to get ideas on what to try
-Sign up for a CSA box to try new things
-Find recipes that are packed with veggies that sound interesting to you
-Plan meals that can you add lots of veggies to (soups, salads, roasted side dishes)
-Consistently grocery shop you have enough veggies for the week
-Always buy a bag of frozen mixed veggies in case you run out or want more
-Keep a running tally on a calendar, app, or a piece of paper on your fridge so you’re keeping track of your veggie intake
Depending on how often your action steps need to happen, you can then choose when and how often you need to do them.
Try whichever option works for you and if you find that one isn’t working for you, try another option. OR, you can take a break from any option. It doesn’t mean you failed, you’re a horrible person, or you can’t follow through. It could mean it’s not working for you right now, you might need to focus on other day to day things, responsibilities or more immediate needs. And that’s okay!
Intentions, words and goals can always be there for you, whenever you want to come back to them. It doesn’t have to be January 1, either. You can create or set them at any time of year.