Setting Intentions in the New Year

A new year, a new start. Each year 62% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions hoping to make positive and healthy changes. According to, statistics show that within the first two weeks 25% of those same Americans have given up on their goals and only 8% reach their ultimate goal by the end of the year. These numbers are not encouraging. In 2019, try focusing on setting positive intentions rather than unrealistic resolutions that may fizzle out faster than you can say Happy New Year. 

Set realistic and reachable intentions 

If 36% of people give up on their New Year’s Resolutions by February, it is likely they are not setting goals that are realistic or reachable. When setting resolutions, choose intentions that make sense. Goals that are interesting, fun, and that you are motivated to keep are more likely to end in success. If you want to read more, set a goal of reading a certain number of books or completing a challenging but interesting book series. If weight loss is a goal, choose a fun way to reach your goal weight. If you despise running, don’t plan to shed pounds on the treadmill. Pick an activity you love and incorporate it into your exercise routine while choosing healthy meal options. “I made a reading goal this year to read my age in books.” says Stephanie Loux, mom of three. “It was a fun self-care resolution which made it easier to reach. It also helped me discuss books with friends.” 

Set measurable and specific intentions 

How will you know if you have reached your goals? Many people give up on their resolutions because they don’t know how to achieve them or when they have been completed. Examples of immeasurable goals include “Get healthy”, “Become more organized” or “Save money”. Be specific when setting intentions. How will you become healthier? Does that include changing your eating habits? Incorporating exercise? What type of exercise and how often? Your goals need to be both measurable and specific so that you know how to achieve them. Goals such as “Raise my grade in science class from a B to an A”, “Read one book a month” or “Save x amount of dollars for a family vacation” are all goals that are both specific and measurable. These types of intentions are great because you know exactly how to reach them, when you have reached them, and when to celebrate your success. 

Reward yourself 

Speaking of celebrating, don’t forget to set some rewards for yourself as you are choosing your New Year’s intentions. This will help motivate you to follow through when things get challenging. Some ideas could include – “If I lose 15 pounds, I will buy three new outfits.” or for your child “If you complete your reading goals, you can pick a special toy”. Pick a reward that is enough to motivate you or your child and work together towards your goal. 

Don’t over do it 

Many people make the mistake of setting too many intentions or goals that are not attainable, setting themselves up for failure. When you are creating your intentions, list all the areas that you would like to work on. Once you have a list, narrow it down to the items that are realistic, measurable, and come with a reward. Prioritize and categorize your goals. Can you consolidate any? Do you see a theme? Which goals are you most excited about? Make your list again and try to be as specific as possible in order to give yourself the best chance of success. If you have several that you would like to achieve, keep your list around so that you can move onto another goal after you complete one of your resolutions. “I find that setting goals for shorter terms, say three months, is easier to stick to than a yearlong endeavor.” says Kelly Lawton of Olathe. “It allows me to reevaluate my progress and reset or restart as I need without the guilt.” 

While coming up with a list of intentions for the year, keep them positive. Give yourself permission to create intentions that are fun rather than a punishment or chore. When we create goals that are actually accomplishable and set rewards for our completion of them, we are much more likely to be successful.

Sarah Lyons is a part time freelance writer and a full-time mom of six. 

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