I am not suggesting that we give up our goals. Goals are crucial to creating the life we dream of living. They give destination to the intentions that drive us, and the values that guide us.
Goal = destination.
Intention = driver.
Values = navigation.
All three are crucial when it comes to guiding our lives, so when I suggest that we ditch the new year’s resolutions, it’s not because goals aren’t important, it’s because BIG goals often feel overwhelming or unobtainable.
Daily intentions on the other hand are amazing tools, and weekly and monthly resolutions can also be super helpful because human beings have amazingly short attention spans.
Daily Intentions vs. New Year’s Resolutions
Let’s use one of the most popular new year’s resolutions as an example. A very large number of people will resolve to lose weight in 2020. I like to reframe that goal as health improvement through weight reduction, so let’s look at weight reduction as our goal.
Example Woman wants to reduce her body weight by 40 pounds.
If she simply uses “I am going to lose 40 pounds” as the New Year’s resolution, statistics suggest that she has an 8% chance of success. Anyone who has tried to reduce their body weight knows how much effort it can take to drop just 5 pounds. The full goal can be too big and too non-specific to provide the motivation required over the long term. If losing 40 pounds is the goal, then seeing that first two or three pounds fall away seems insignificant, when really it’s a HUGE big deal that can be celebrated as the first milestone, and used as a foundation upon which the rest of the goal can be built!
If, on the other hand, Example Woman sets a goal to lose two pounds this week, and supports that goal with daily intentions that align to that goal, her chances of success grow exponentially. For example, her daily intention might be to avoid desserts and move her body for 20 minutes every day. Or maybe she chooses to focus her intention on walking 12,000 steps each day, and eating a healthy green salad with dinner instead of buttery potatoes or french fries. Maybe she’ll choose to simply stop snacking after dinner for 6 nights this week and give up sugary drinks. Each of these small goals aligns with the bigger, overall goal, and each of them is easier to focus on, and easier to achieve.
Example Woman has three possible outcomes:
1) She reached her goal and has a foundation of success and confidence to motivate her forward.
2) She achieved partial success and can make small adjustments to do more of what worked and resonated for her, while doing less of what she didn’t enjoy or didn’t seem as effective.
3) She made no movement toward her goal in which case it is obvious that what she did this week didn’t create the results she wants, so she can adjust the plan to try something different next week.
This process allows more space to review what is being achieved, which pieces of the process are creating the results we crave, which pieces of the process we enjoy (and therefore will be more likely to continue), and which pieces we do not enjoy (and therefore may want to find a different perspective from which to view it, or a different way to approach it entirely.)
Every time we reach that small daily or weekly goal, we’re building confidence in ourselves and our ability to create what we want to create. Every time we stick to our intentions, even when we don’t feel like it, we build confidence that we can depend on ourselves. We create the evidence that we always follow through, that we will do something when we say we will. Our self-esteem grows as we walk our talk and reach our goal.
You know that picture you have in your mind of you standing at whatever finish line you aspire to? The picture you imagine of you living the results you want to live – whether it’s a novel you are writing and want to publish, or the optimally-functioning, healthy body you are creating & maintaining, or that new language in which you wish to be fluent. You CRUSHING it. You thriving and prospering and happy. Yes, THAT picture. Take a minute and really SEE it in your mind. Allow yourself to feel the emotions that will flood you in that moment of triumph.
The difference between living that picture and having it remain an unfulfilled dream is in how we map our route to get there. For most of us, taking a million baby steps will get us to the BIG goal faster than trying to arrive in one or two giant leaps.
When Example Woman reaches her goal of eating a salad daily and increasing her activity level, she can count herself successful even if the number on the scale hasn’t changed yet! There are myriad factors that contribute to health improvements and weight reduction and they are NOT the same for everyone, so if the goal is to change that number on the scale, and that’s the only marker being used, it can be REALLY frustrating for Example Woman “A” if Example Woman “B” is doing the same things but getting different results just because of her genetics, or the part of her cycle she’s in, or the amount of water she is drinking.
Let the weekly goals be specific and achievable. We get bonus points if we can make them specific, achievable and FUN! Thinking that physical activity needs to be unenjoyable is a very limiting belief! Open your mind to the infinite possibilities available to us! Make a resolution to try one new activity this week that engages your body.
So ditch the year-long resolutions in favor of short-distance goals paired with daily intentions that support those. You’ve GOT this. I believe in you. If I can improve my life one step at a time, anyone can do it. I believe in us!
What is ONE healthy new habit that you could start doing each day?
(twenty minute walk, more leafy greens, drink water every hour, floss twice, positive affirmations, meditation, the list is endless)
What will change for you when this new activity is a habit?
What is one habit you could quit today that would have the biggest impact on your health and well-being?
(using tobacco, drinking soda, eating sugar, being sedentary, drinking alcohol, and nail biting are a few that yield quick benefits when released)
What will change for you without this habit?
How much money will you save?