New Year’s Intentions

lists of New Yewrs resolutionsEven though the beginning of 2013 represents a fresh start, how about giving resolutions a rest this year and just trying to do our best? Resolution is such a strong word. It implies that what we were doing before was an issue we now have to resolve.

Some of you may see intention as too tentative a word, but I happen to find it more user-friendly. It’s not an authority figure you have to  rebel against. Nor a total commitment, requiring deprivation that inevitably leads to an urge to fill the void.

And an intention doesn’t need to be initiated in January. Change is always necessary for growth, and that can be year round. Intending instead of resolving invites more flexibility and the end result may be better than what you had originally planned.

But stating an intention is not an action – it’s just a thought or a desire. 

Real and lasting change is hard work. When we want to make changes, whatever they are – lose weight or exercise more – we have to take action. And action requires ongoing motivation, effort, commitment, discipline, a strong will. Drastically cutting calories or overexertion at the gym are definite ways to derail your plans. Try to focus on gradual benefits not the end result.

Of course change is a process, one that we may have to work on for the rest of our lives. But if we have a mindset to follow through and see that it’s not that difficult, our confidence grows. As our ability to succeed increases, small victories can turn into habits that contribute to a healthier lifestyle.

Ask yourself, what can I do today?  And take small steps, one at a time. When the future is uncertain and the past is full of regrets that sap your energy, be mindful and live in the moment. Whether you want to drink less, get out of debt or stop smoking, ‘one day at a time’ can be a practical and effective motto.

Encountering setbacks is one of the most common reasons to feel discouraged. If history is prologue, evaluate which strategies have worked in the past. And if you relapse, don’t view it as a failure but as a learning opportunity.

Joining a gym, debtors anonymous or weight watchers is the easy part – continuing to show up is the bigger challenge. For all of us, motivation will inevitably dwindle. When you face difficult moments, remember why you are doing this. And notice what you have to gain by fulfilling your intention. You can find inspiration within that will keep you going through tough times.

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