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!