Resolutions, Intentions, New Habits – Oh My!

Resolutions, Intentions, New Habits – Oh My!

01/12/23 Laura Gibbons

The New Year is symbolic of bringing in something new.  We may feel like it is a new start, a clean slate, or a sign of hope for what we envision.

Research shows that less than 10% achieve their New Year’s resolutions. Although it sounds daunting, it gives us some information about how we may approach this year differently. If you include yourself in the 90% that have not been successful with resolutions, try some new ways to make meaningful change and feel happier and healthier in the New Year.

Set an Intention: Choose a Word for the New Year
Choose a word that sets your intention for the year. While resolutions focus on an outcome, intentions focus on the journey. The intention can be one word (or phrase) that reflects a way of being, a value, something meaningful, and becomes a guide on how you approach day-to-day life.

To find your word, think about what you want to cultivate in your life. Start with some probing questions: Where do I feel deprived? What do I miss? What do I need more of? What do I need less of? What gives me joy? What depletes me? What serves me? What doesn’t serve me? What do I want my life to look like or represent? How do I want to feel? What is most meaningful? What do I want to achieve?

Based on your answers, identify a common theme that resonates most. Examples of a word that can become an intention include: Nourishment, Movement, Active, Connection, Boundaries, Simplify, Focus, Discipline, Strength, Present, Mindful, Flexible, Purposeful, Acceptance, Forgiveness, Grateful, Calm, Compassion, Learning, Creative, Adventure, Balance, Authentic, Brave

Intentions are not just words; they influence thinking patterns and actions to help fulfill your needs, desires, and goals. Because intentions are purposeful, they can cause a ripple effect where you start seeing positive changes in other areas of your life, whether personally, professionally, relationally, or other key area.

Create Healthy Habits
Setting healthy habits may seem less daunting than New Year’s resolutions as they can be small, attainable actions. Maybe it is making your bed each morning, going to bed earlier, less screen time, eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water, exercising weekly, practicing gratitude or mindfulness, or connecting with others. Identify new habit(s) that you want to create and determine how they will fit into your day/week. Here are some ideas:

Habit Stacking is building a new habit on top of another habit that you already do. For example, you make coffee every morning and sit down to quietly drink it. Habit stacking would look like stacking a one-minute meditation as you wait for your coffee to brew. As you drink your coffee, you write down three things for which you are grateful. You can also chunk a new habit. Maybe you want to exercise 30 minutes a day, but want to split it into two chunks like exercising 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening.

Another way to stick to a new habit is to make it fun by temptation building, a term coined by behavioral scientist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania Katy Milkman. This is where you pair a new habit with something else you already enjoy. This could be watching your favorite show while on the exercise machine, listening to a podcast when you take a walk, or playing music while you create a healthy meal. Start small to remain consistent so that you form a new habit that sticks.

Make a Bucket List
The New Year doesn’t always have to be about big change resolutions that often have a negative connotation. Making a bucket list for the New Year is positive and can be more exciting about what is to come. A bucket list focuses on trying new things, having adventures, doing more of what you enjoy, and marking off something that you have long dreamed of doing. A bucket list can be by month, season, or year. It can be anything you really want to do or achieve like going to a festival, concert, read a novel, try a new restaurant or food, take a trip, learn a new hobby or skill, learn to ski or other sport, etc. Now, this is the kind of list that you want to make!

Commit to Shorter-term Challenges
Individuals often get overwhelmed about resolutions because the outcome can seem so far away. Motivation can ween and we often give up. Reel it in and set shorter-term challenges. Whether it is a 7, 10, 14, 30, or 60-day challenge, it keeps it fresh and keeps motivation high. Alternatively, maybe it is setting a different goal each month to keep it interesting. Challenges could be around exercise, reading, learning something new, healthy eating, decluttering, spending, self-care, etc. Aligning short-term challenges with your overall goals are more likely to be successful and to motivate you to the next challenge.

If you want to set the tone for the New Year with one of these strategies or to explore other ways to enhance overall well-being, contact the EAP

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