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Setting Intentions Vs. New Year’s Resolutions

As we usher in a New Year, we will make all kinds of promises to ourselves. January is the month that brings a frenzy of resolutions to create our best selves and find renewed happiness. With a little bit of self-control and discipline, there should be no problem, right? Fast forward three months and resolutions have fallen by the wayside, and you feel like a failure. Negative self-talk creeps in, and you use it as a stick to beat yourself up. Big goals can push you towards repeated failure, taking a toll on your emotional and physical well-being.

This year, you could develop some “Positive Intentions” and banish the words “New Year’s Resolution” from your vocabulary.  Rather than saying, “I really need to lose weight/stop smoking/spend more time with my family,” change the language and focus your intention on feeling stronger, fitter, and more energized. This takes the pressure off and directs your energy towards a lifestyle change.

Here are 5 tips for successful intention setting:

  1. Examine your core values. You are more likely to stick to change if it supports your underlying values. Ask yourself, “What is important to me?”
  2. Make it measurable. Instead of saying, “I want to be happier” or “I want to be healthier,” say “I’m going to do one fun thing every week” or “I’m going to go to the gym four times a week for 30 minutes each time.”
  3. Break it down. Set short-term goals rather than goals that span the entire year. Such goals are more achievable, and as you see progress, you are more likely to stay motivated to stick with them.
  4. Make it actionable. Figure out one thing you can do each day to become closer to your goal. When you identify it right down to what actionable step you can take today, it becomes more manageable.
  5. Track it. The act of writing down your goals and seeing them on paper keeps it in the forefront of your mind and will hopefully motivate you.

Change, in any form, is difficult. For more information and resources to support you in making healthy changes in your life, visit www.PennFoundation.org.