Toward the end of January, many of us struggle to remember the person we were at the beginning of the month.
You know—that enthusiastic person meeting the new year with wide eyes and high expectations for the upgraded person we’d wake up as the very next day.
With the resolutions we collected like love notes filled with promise now bearing down on us like angry to-do lists we haven’t yet been able to tick off, we wonder, “who was I kidding?” and allow our minds to play hide-and-seek with the challenges we set for ourselves only days before.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Resolutions begin to drop off after a week, and only about 40 percent of the people who make resolutions actually stick to their goals.
That doesn’t have to be you. If like me, you’re tired of spending January hiding from the imagined (better) version of yourself and avoiding looking your resolve in the eye for fear of failure, you may need to lay off the resolutions and opt for intention setting instead.
You may be thinking, what’s the difference between resolutions and intentions?
Well, resolutions are the things we resolve to do at the start of the year that usually mean change. Like “I’ll eat healthier,” “exercise more,” and “be less stressed.” And while we may want to achieve those things, old patterns of behaviour and bad habits can be hard to transform and can make us feel like failures when we don’t conquer them.
However, when we intend to eat healthier, exercise more, and be less stressed, we are coming from a place of loving-kindness and acceptance for ourselves as imperfect human beings trying to do our best regardless of the outcome.
Intentions help us to take responsibility for our destiny without judgement. They give us guidelines to follow instead of a list of dos and don’ts that make us feel bad.
Also, we can set intentions at any time by bringing awareness to the elements of our business and personal lives that need more balance and nurturing to grow.
As creatives, dedicated professionals, and entrepreneurs, we don’t have the luxury of a bad day. So we must learn to cultivate a positive mindset through a harmonious approach to our everyday activities—integrating our personal needs with that of our work needs to perform at our very best.
The value of this is when our work is thriving and we’re fulfilling our full potential, life prospers. The same is true the other way around. By taking responsibility for our health, well-being, and soul needs, we free up space to focus on our career and business with added awareness, conviction, and enjoyment. This helps us to attract the success we dream of.
Most of us overestimate what’s possible in a single day and underestimate what’s possible in a year. That’s because it’s easy to give ourselves a daily to-do list, but not so easy to set growth targets that challenge us to take action outside of our comfort zone.
To ensure we fulfill our good intentions, we need to anchor them in commitment and give them a structure to make progress toward our goals. Without this, we won’t have the proper support system in place to facilitate the behavioural change our new goals require.
The good news is that intention setting is just another skill that we can learn to master to achieve more of what we want in the world.
Like any skill, we need to understand the basics first and make a habit of strengthening those muscles:
1. Decide what really matters.
For starters, you need to work out what is essential for you to focus on in the year ahead. Then go about writing them down in a way that feels right to you. I like this article on Forbes about how to approach goal setting in a more meaningful way than the usual S-M-A-R-T (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, timely) way of doing things.
In 2020, I’m setting intentions around channeling my creativity for work and pleasure, creating community, and sharing my voice. I will take time out to go deep on what growth looks like in these areas and why it will benefit both myself and my business to achieve it.
2. Commit to making dreams a reality.
Once you have your yearly themes identified and you’ve set out what achieving them means to you, you’ll need to commit to taking action to make them a reality month after month. This means working on the specifics—the tasks that will take you from good intentions to the transformation you’re dreaming of.
For this, I use yearly intention-setting worksheets and monthly and daily planners. They help to focus my attention on the big picture stuff, while also looking at the micro-tasks I’ll need to tick off to get there.
It’s this continuous cycle of evaluation and prioritization in a regular routine that brings the structure needed to work systematically toward the achievement of each goal.
3. Get out of your own way.
Now, this is where I will give you a reality check, my friend. It’s not going to be easy. Transformation never is. It’ll necessitate growth in ways that you may not even know right now.
You may find limiting beliefs and bad habits blocking you and need to get out of your own way by introducing healthier, more meaningful replacements instead. You may need to invest in the tools, skills, and people to up-level your business instead of trying to do it all on your own (um, that’s me). And you may need to make space to practise mindfulness, get fit, and learn from experts to access new knowledge and abilities to guide you in this journey.
It’s easy to forget that you are your life’s work, and everything else comes as a benefit. When you commit to working on yourself alongside your career or business, you’ll raise your vibration and find greater contentment in everything you do.
So before you completely abandon your resolutions, please take a deep breath and decide whether the commitment is worth it to you.
Creating structure can be tricky, but it can be simplified with the help of the tools I’ve given you and a little planning. Explore what works for you by implementing intention-setting categories to help up-level your dream year, and make it a reality.