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Setting Intentions that Stick

Well, you’re a week into your new year. How’s it going? Did any of your ‘resolutions’ get resolved, or even started yet? Maybe they are already puttering out. Every year, with the best intentions, resolutions get left by the wayside as daily life takes over and our old habit patterns and preferences are too strong to make a clean break.

I have been through the cycle many times myself, and this year I thought I would share some things that seem to work in changing behavior patterns that don’t serve us, or those around us. I hope it might help you to start to initiate intentional change today, and everyday. After all, every moment can be January 1st, a time to begin again.

1. Set goals that are achievable. The more realistic and down to earth the intention, the more likely it will be adopted. For example, let’s say you would like to start yoga, or stop drinking. Now, if you have never been to a yoga class before, the intention of going to a yoga class every day in 2016 probably won’t turn out with you in a pretzel shape, nor will a flimsy open ended intention like ‘This year I want to start to practice yoga’. The intention that may get you aimed in the right direction might be: This month (January) I will sign up to a yoga studio in my neighborhood and go twice a week, and re-assess in February.

This intention is both realistic, and has a start and a finish. In February if it has worked out, you continue or go up to three times a week, or you decide to try swimming or the gym in a similar manner in February. Don’t abandon the bigger intention, which may be to spend more time being in your body moving.

In the stop drinking scenario, going cold turkey may not cut it, but how would it be to eliminate weekday drinks in January? Or limit alcohol and sugar drinks to two a week? Keep a diary or a calendar and re-assess after a month.

2. If you slip up, don’t slip out. Just because you may only make it to yoga once a week instead of two times, or drink three nights instead of your goal of two, it doesn’t mean that you abandon your mission all together. After all, each moment, each day is a new time to begin again. Don’t beat yourself up or sweat the small stuff, just resolve to begin again with intention and focus.

3. Talk to your friends and family. The more people around you who know about your resolutions and reform, the more you can be sure support is there to help you reach your goals. When you need a friend to help you make it to your class or to avoid the alcohol, sugar or other substance of choice you are avoiding, make a list of those you can call on. After all, what are friends for?

4. Save up. Whatever your intention for 2016, try putting a little extra aside to celebrate the small victories along the way. This means that rather than seeing 2016 a a giant year to leap through, take it month by month, or week by week. When you see you have made it to a desired ‘end’, go out and do something nice for yourself that is in line with your goals. Positive reward means you are doing something important for yourself.

5. Reflect on your well being and those around you before setting any intention. Ultimately intentions, goals, resolutions…they are all just proverbial carrots to motivate us to make life more fulfilling. The more we can become aware of how our own happiness affects others, the more we may align our intentions with a healthier, kinder world. One of my most successful resolutions was to buy and tend to bird feeders on my balcony. This small action brought me a lot of joy by seeing the birds, and I made a whole lot of birds happy! I kept the 5 kilos that year, but I probably would have lost it only to gain it back anyway, and to this day I fill those feeders each week!

Every moment is a moment to accept yourself and champion any changes that help that mission along the way. Happy New Year, Happy (same) New You.

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