You have to admit that 2020 has been some kind of year, right? And now we have successfully reached the end of what was a year full of unknowns and changed behaviours. We aced it, more or less. We discovered new ways of doing things, and we also discovered what was really important in our lives.
We did all this reactively and quite ‘unintentionally’.
What if we were intentional about doing things in new ways and in finding out how best to value and do more of what’s important, and intentionally get the best out of ourselves and our lives?
We all know our New Year Resolutions largely fall by the wayside, long before the chocolate hearts come out for Valentine’s day just six weeks into the new year.
Why intentions are more powerful than resolutions? Why is intent different to resolve?
Intent implies going forward to something new vs resolve is a ‘re’ – back to solve an old problem.
Whether you like it or not, giving up familiar patterns of behaviour or taking up new and unfamiliar activities is not easy, by any means or strength of the resolve.
New Year’s resolutions are more often than not in one of two categories:
- to stop doing something that we know is ‘unhealthy’ that we enjoy – such as smoking or overindulging.
- to start doing something we know could be good for us, such as a new exercise, diet or practice that we really don’t enjoy.
This is where intent comes into its own. ‘It’s better to be pulled by what you love, and not pushed by what you fear’.
Resolutions remind us of our problems. Intentions remind us of our dreams.
Our long-standing habits that were resolving to change – to fix those pesky problems – those seemingly insignificant habits that have crept up on us quite surreptitiously, and then bred like cute little Gremlins on munchies after midnight … what makes them so resistant to solutions?
By choosing to set intentions for 2021, it will be easier to focus on the future successful solutions, not the failed ‘solutions’ of the past.
What do I mean by this? Let me clarify…
It is not so much due to the lack of resolve that most people ditch their new year’s resolutions, but rather as a result of a lack of clarity. Without clarity of what we want to achieve, we will simply just carry on doing what we did before. And goodness knows there’s plenty of evidence to show us that doesn’t work. “If you always do what you’ve always done you will always have what you’ve always had”.
So, what to do? Know what you want and devise a workable plan to get it done. Simple. No, really, it is. Know what you intend to have achieved by this time next year.
What do you want your life to look like one year from now?
Write this down:
- My Intention for 2021: This time next year I intend to be /do /have……
- Write down a minimum of 5 steps you could take – and when you are going to take them – to achieve the result you want by the end of the year.
- The system you will use to support you to realise your intention. A buddy, an accountability structure, a diary, a planner… Goals that are written down bring clarity, as do the steps taken to get you there.
Review the Year that Was
To get some idea of what you would like to achieve in the year to come, it will help to reflect on the year that has gone. Ask yourself what went against your plans for the year (and this will likely be a big one, given all that 2020 threw at us as a global community) what went particularly well over the year. What changes are you particularly proud of that you made and can now stick to, to best change your behaviour and refine your habits?
Turn your Goals into Habits
Remember while you are acknowledging those small gains, note they add up to build a bigger picture. Never disregard the small wins. If you want to own CrossFit at 50, turn up every day to train. Regularly. Make it a habit, like brushing your teeth.
Slay the Enemy That is Procrastination!
It’s not as daunting as it sounds. Simply remove the resistance and the path becomes a downhill breeze. Without the excuses not to train, going back to the CrossFit at 50 idea, you will have no choice but to go with your decision to exercise every day.
Just Do It
Implementation intention is an actual phenomenon. Having a plan on how to act to achieve a goal will lead to doing it. Action causes results. Motivation is not enough. Put your intention down in writing so that it is a concrete decision. Write it down! And be specific:
- What will you do? Train
- When will you do it? Every weekday between 6h30 and 7h15
With specific goals comes focus! Even if distractions creep in surreptitiously and hijack your plans, you can always revert to your intention. Forgive the lapses and get back on the horse. The intention remains. Start with day 1 of your plan and by day 20, you will have a habit forming.
Yes, it really is as easy as that.
Review the year that was
Turn goals into habits
Just do it!
If you have the intention, nothing can stop you from moving towards your goal. Once you are on the pathway, there is no stopping you. Obstacles can be got around. The intention of the river is to get to the sea. Intend, don’t resolve! Go on, intend to get all you want out of your 2021.