Set your intention

Like many of you, I’ve been through many New Years’ where I set crazy resolutions that I don’t really plan on keeping.  They often revolve around something I won’t do (I won’t eat sugar, I won’t spend as much money) or something I should do (I should go to the gym more, I should try to get a raise). They’re more like pipe dreams that I vocalize once a year, try for about a month, and then give up on. (See a New York Times article for more about this).

A few years ago, I started to set intentions for the new year.  Instead of a reluctant resolution (“I resolve to… do something I don’t really want to do”), an intention is more action-oriented and more positive (“I itend to do this because I really want to”).

As the years have gone by, I’ve started looking at my list of intentions like a business plan.  I’ve set my goals–now how will I follow through on them? How can I ensure I successfully meet each one?  For example, last year, I set an intention to read more.  As an action step, I promised myself I would read a chapter of a book each day.  Another intention I set was to move my body more.  As an action step,  I promised myself I would walk to work; later, as I became more committed to this, I set the intention to go to the gym four times a week.

Keys to setting a successful intention:

  • Create at least one intention for each area of your life:  health, career, relationships, finances, etc. (e.g., I intend to put $5,000 in my 401k by December 2009).
  • Make sure each intention is actually attainable!  If you want to lose weight, set a goal that makes sense and you actually have a hope of achieving. (e.g., I intend to lose 10 lbs in 2009).
  • Next to your intention, jot down some ideas about how you will make it incrementally happen. (e.g., I intend to cook more in 2009 and will make one new recipe per week).
  • Write it down!  Even better, post it somewhere visible where you’re reminded of it on occasion.  Make a point of looking at it every few months; as you attain your goals, cross them off the list.

What are your intentions for 2009?  Let me know!

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