intention settingWhy intention setting is more powerful, compassionate and sustainable than making resolutions

Inc. Magazine recently reported that 60 percent of people set New Year’s resolutions, but that only 8 percent of those people are successful in achieving them. They also list the top 10 New Year’s resolutions according to a survey of 2000 people, which include: 

  1. Diet or eat healthier (71 percent)
  2. Exercise more (65 percent)
  3. Lose weight (54 percent)
  4. Save more and spend less (32 percent)
  5. Learn a new skill or hobby (26 percent)
  6. Quit smoking (21 percent)
  7. Read more (17 percent)
  8. Find another job (16 percent)
  9. Drink less alcohol (15 percent)
  10. Spend more time with family and friends (13 percent)

As someone who is into intention setting rather than making resolutions, which Google defines as “a firm decision to do or not to do something,” I started thinking about the difference between resolutions and intentions and how people—particularly women—can be more successful in reaching their goals. 

As an empowerment and leadership coach and consultant for women, as well as a social worker, I spend a lot of time with women and I think about how we can live more authentic, connected and powerful lives. Women, in general, are particularly hard on themselves. We are conditioned by society and the media to conform to look and act a certain way And, we do this in order to feel loved, respected, appreciated and accepted. Yet, in doing so, we judge ourselves harshly when we fail to adhere to our “firm decision to do or not to do something,” which is what resolutions are all about. 

Stop Going Against The Flow 

The making and breaking of New Year’s resolutions remind me of this great analogy about trying to battle a river. When most of us feel stress, anxiety and fear—often having to do with an inevitable change that we’re resisting or a resolution we’re trying to keep—we grab our oars, put them in the water and start paddling like hell in the opposite direction of the current. With all this effort, now we’re even more stressed out, afraid, anxious and exhausted! And, when the boat is about the bail, we grab hold of whatever we can—whether that literally be a tree limb hanging over the river or a life “story” that is no longer serving us—in an attempt to resist the natural flow and current of life. And, in doing so, all we’re left with is splinters! The moral of this analogy is in the power of letting go. Letting go of the need to conform our bodies, stories, relationships and, yes, resolutions too! 

Drop The Judgement: Intention Setting For A Powerful 2020! 

I think the primary difference between making resolutions and intention setting is the lens through which we see things. In making resolutions, most people focus on what they DON’T want versus what they DO want without considering why. For instance, the top three most common New Year’s resolutions are body-centered: to diet or eat better; exercise; and to lose weight. I imagine that these resolutions are so popular because people want to look and feel better, which would be the intention, right? And looking and feeling better might include a healthier diet, more time at the gym or on a yoga mat and less extra weight. 

Rather than trying to adhere to a strict diet and then feeling awful after eating a whole chocolate cake or a pint of ice cream, or resolving to make it to the gym five times a week and giving up on that goal the week after you only make it twice, intention setting—my intention is to look at feel better—gives you an opportunity to practice increased compassion for yourself. So what if you ate the whole chocolate cake? That happened, right? And, it’s over. Now is the time to reconnect with the intention—to look and feel better—and compassionately start again. Reconnecting with the intention and desire and then gracefully handing it back over to the Divine helps us stay true to ourselves when we fall down and offers us the strength to get up over and over again—a little worn, but wiser. 

Reflections And Intention Setting: Dance Into A New Decade With Clarity, Tenacity And Grace

If you’re struggling to define what it is that you’d like to cultivate in 2020, I invite you to check out my last blog, Step Courageously Into 2020! Setting Intentions For the new Decade and to download my Courageously Step Into 2020: A New Decade of Possibility intention setting worksheets as a gift. And, if you’d like to meet one-on-one to discuss how you can powerfully and compassionately step into the new year, I invite you to contact me to schedule an appointment. If you live outside of Denver, our session can be done by phone. 

Happy 2020 all! Here’s to a new year, powerful intention setting, and a decade of growth, empowerment, good health and love!