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Should You Make New Year’s Resolutions? Probably Not. Here’s What To Do Instead

Should You Make New Year’s Resolutions?  Probably Not.  Here’s What To Do Instead

Many of us will set great New Year’s resolutions: to lose weight, to get in shape, stop smoking or maybe to spend more quality time with family and friends. All positive things to bring into our lives. Unfortunately, statistics show that only 8% of us are actually successful in achieving those resolutions. Why is this? Mostly because we see our resolutions as black or white. It's a hard stop or start, something we achieve or we don’t. We get to check the box that we did it, or we don’t. Resolutions hold us to unachievable standards and make us feel guilty, weak or lazy if we don’t achieve them. Resolutions only set us up for failure.

[Related: Why Your Resolution "Failure" is an Opportunity for True Success]

I propose setting intentions instead of making resolutions. But how can adopting intention help us achieve our resolutions?

Intention reminds us of what we set out to do, like a resolution, but also sets an attitude that is different than resolutions. Intention allows us grace if we fall. Intention helps us see that we are on the right path and that what we seek is a journey. Along the way we will experience results better than we expected and sometimes less than we expected. A resolution is finite, definite and discrete. It has a beginning and an end. It is tangible. Intention on the other hand is a feeling, a thought or an attitude. It is how we feel about what we do. So we can think of a resolution as the ‘thing’ and intention is the ‘why’ behind the resolution.

The more fully you understand your intention, the why behind the resolution, the more likely you are to achieve it. What you want to accomplish now has more meaning and relevance. It moves from being a task or hurdle to get done/over, it shifts from checking a box, to an accomplishment that adds value to life. For example, let’s say you resolve to ’get in shape’. Take this a step further and ask ‘why’?

Yes, you want to lose a few pounds and look good in those skinny jeans. But on a deeper level you want to be able to keep up with your kids, not just today but for many years to come. You want to be healthy so that you can enjoy life and take advantage of all that it has to offer. So the reality of the resolution is not just to get in shape, but also 'be healthy, set a good example for my kids and live a long, adventurous life’. And there are many more ways to ‘be healthy, set a good example for my kids and live a long, adventurous life’ than going to the gym every day. Intentions also give you options.

[Related: The 4 Steps To Making Your Resolution A Reality]

You realize that you have many opportunities and ways to achieve your resolutions. It is no longer a discrete thing that you do or don’t achieve. Additionally, you have given it more meaning because you are no longer doing it just for yourself. You are doing it for your family, or something bigger than just you, as well.

Start your New Year off right. Don’t just resolve to do something. Keep asking yourself ‘why’ until you come to an answer that is bigger than just you and feels right. Add that answer to your resolution and you have a winning equation. Uncover the why behind what you want to accomplish and you will set yourself up for greater success.

[Related: Want to Actually Achieve the Goals You Set? Know Your Why]

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Yvette Costa is a certified professional career coach, certified yoga teacher and certified yoga therapist.  She combines all of these with her 25+ years in biotech as a leader, mentor and coach to help clients see new perspectives. 


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