You know when you’re on a job interview and they ask, “what’s your five-year plan?”
You take a deep breath, smile and come up with an answer on the spot because, let’s face it, you haven’t even decided what you’re eating for dinner that night.
Resolutions are just like these so-called, long-term plans that society has told you to create for yourself. Unlike plans, resolutions are attributes or hobbies that you wish to improve. They are related to your physical, emotional, or mental person rather than your gold-star achievements.
As the numbers tell us, many don’t accomplish their resolutions. In fact, only 8% of people actually stick to their resolutions and only 25% stay committed after 30 days.
The problem in our society is that we set unrealistically high expectations for ourselves, but then have no willpower to achieve them. Rather than improving our lifestyle, we push ourselves harder at work or at the gym because we don’t want to deal with the actual problem: self-improvement.
Looking inward is hard. Scratch that, it’s terrifying. Not many people like to sit in silence and pay attention to their thoughts or actually fix whatever is going on. If we don’t like to do that, then how can we possibly improve ourselves through the resolution we set at the beginning of the year?
Perhaps the most irrational part about setting resolutions is that we do so at arguably the most difficult time of year: winter. For many, winter is a cold, dreadful, wet, and dark time of year when the last thing we want to focus on is improving our well-being. Saying we’re going to go to the gym every day quickly falls off because of “the weather” and then over time we regret that excuse…What comes with regret? Guilt.
Guilt is the WORST human emotion we can put ourselves in. By setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves, every year, we’re disappointing ourselves over and over again.
Thankfully, there are other options. You may have seen an influx of Instagram influencers setting their monthly intentions or goals on beautifully handwritten pieces on paper. This is exactly what you SHOULD be doing. A whole year is a lot to envision. Below are the steps you can take in order to have your most fulfilled year yet.
1. How do you feel today?
Consider specific emotions and track them in a journal.
2. How do you want to feel?
Set an intention rooted in a feeling you can embody.
3. What do you want to try this month?
Have fun with new ideas for activities that embrace your intention
4. What can you do, today, that can activate that intention?
Set a realistic goal to work on that thing a little every day.
5. What do you want to work on this month?
Put this somewhere you can refer to throughout the month and make a plan to go back to it. Also, leave yourself the option to adjust (that’s the beauty of intentions vs. resolutions–they’re malleable)!
6. What can you do emotionally, physically, and mentally?
Set something that makes you consider all aspects of your wellbeing.
This is the most important step. Carve out time to reflect on your intentions–throughout the day and throughout the month. Make it playful, rather than do or die. The more you connect to your intention, the more you’ll see your life transform.
To put this in perspective, my intention with this article wasn’t to discourage you from self-improvement. My intention with these words is for you to invite in more self-compassion as we jump into 2020. Here’s to a well-intended year ahead.