How To Set Intentions For The New Year & Really Follow Through
New Year’s is the equivalent of pressing the reset button: It’s a blank page, a fresh start, or at least, that’s what we’ve been taught to believe. And because we have been ingrained with this idea, it is the perfect time to cultivate new habits and set intentions. This is not to be confused with a resolution, which connotes the setting of some highfalutin goal, like losing 30 pounds and drinking kale juice every morning when we haven’t run a lap since we were twelve. But rather, it’s a time to pause and reflect: What new habits can we start this year? Moreover, what can we do to really stick to them, instead of just creating a plan that falls to the wayside come January 2nd?
Here are some tips on how to make a new habit stick and improve your ability to follow through:
Find a Focus Word for the Year that Encompasses Your New Direction
Last year, my word was ‘union’ and I meditated on that word often, letting it direct my actions and inform my decisions. As a result, I joined a meetup and made a new circle of friends. I said yes to invitations when my instinct was to say no and I stepped out of my comfort zone, which is pretty much hermitude, and started a women’s circle. Find a word that sums up what you want to cultivate more of in your life. Maybe you crave more peace, adventure, romance, or creativity. Write the word on a post-it note and stick it somewhere you can see it daily to remind yourself of your intention. Focus on that word every day. Ask yourself what small steps you can take to attract situations and people who reflect the energy of that word into your life.
Know Your WHY
New habits stick when we have a good enough reason to support what will inevitably be us walking through a little bit of discomfort, as no one really wants to wake up early to lift weights or eat less dessert. I commit to mindfulness practices such as meditation or studying the spiritual text “A Course in Miracles”, because I feel my energy instantly shifted as a result. This improves all areas of my life, and I feel like I am living up to the best version of myself: a me who prioritizes being conscious and cultivating a feeling of peace every day. I keep my why in the forefront of my mind. I wouldn’t want to hang out with someone who is stressed, judgmental or cynical. So when excuses pop into my mind of why I shouldn’t sit down and read (and they do), I remind myself that I will be a better friend, daughter, and girlfriend if I am feeling aligned and connected. My why pulls me through excuses and negative patterns of thinking.
Make Room for the New
Ask yourself: What can I let go of to make room for the new habit? If you want to wake up earlier to meditate, you might be more likely to do so if you went to bed an hour earlier, which might mean not watching your favorite television show. If you want to spend money to sign up for an exercise class, that might mean cutting back on buying clothes or going out on Friday night. How can you shift your schedule, finances, and other areas of your life to ensure your success? Cut out whatever and whoever isn’t serving you to make space for the new.
Change Your Beliefs
Your thoughts must align with the actions you hope to take. Let’s say you have limiting beliefs about being a successful artist because your parents taught you that all artists struggle. Before developing the habit of working on your art every day and building a successful creative career, you might want to take some time to shift your mindset. The best way to do this is to listen to affirmations and repeat them daily. Make a recording of the new beliefs you want to hold and listen to it as you drive. Choose positive, empowering beliefs, and play them on repeat. Your beliefs are either limiting you or are serving as a foundation for your success. If your foundation isn’t there, it’s time to build one.
Set the Intention and Commit
Oftentimes, we don’t follow through with habits, because we’re not committed to growth. We think we want to focus on our health, but there are so many other areas of our lives that we really are committed to – work, family, romantic relationships – that health doesn’t become a priority. As you shift your priorities, as you declare, Yes, I’m ready to focus on this area of my life, you will find a way to fulfill your intentions. But first, you must desire it wholeheartedly and commit. Our lives are the result of the intentions we set and our ability to follow through with decisions and actions that would lead to our betterment. Choose ones that cultivate a sense of peace and joy in your life, and welcome them in this new year. There’s no better time to take charge of your life than the current moment.
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