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Setting Intentions for the New Year: How to Make Your Resolutions a Reality

Author: Devon Smolca

The New Year gives us an exciting and fresh opportunity that we don’t always feel we get the rest of the year. It’s a chance to start over, to begin anew, and an opportunity to set strong intentions to carry us through the whole year. It’s a powerful time. After the solstice the light begins to return, and in many parts of the world, the cold has really settled in. The plants around us have recessed back into their roots and the animals to their dens. To understand this strong drive we get to improve ourselves this time every year, it helps to liken ourselves to mountain goats (hear us out!). At the top of the mountain where everything is cold and dormant, the mountain goat has to forge its way down the mountain to a lower, southern elevation where they are more protected from the elements. We can think of ourselves like that mountain goat! In this cold, dark time of the year, we too have to forge rocky terrain to get to those parts of ourselves where we see more light. We stick to our intentions, and we endure!

Part of the challenge is that once this mountain goat mojo has worn off, we tend to fall back on old habits and what we were striving so ardently for in the beginning of the year becomes less imminent. It is possible for us to sustain this strong motivation all year if we instead direct that motivation towards creating strong intentions and making a plan that’s sustainable and realistic in our lives. 

Here are some simple tips on how to make your New Year’s resolutions a reality:

Set SMART goals! By now we’re sure you’re familiar with SMART (specific, measureable, attainable, relevant, and time based) goals. When we set our New Year’s resolutions, we can set ourselves up for success by outlining all the necessary SMART goal components. We can ask ourselves: is this really sustainable for me all year? How specific is my goal? Is this attainable in my lifestyle right now, or is this something I need to gradually work my way up to? Is this relevant to where I’m at on my journey right now? And then we can make our goals time-based by breaking it down into smaller, bite-sized chunks.

That brings us to our next tip, feed your seed!  When we set a new intention for the year we are planting a new seed. Just like with seed, we can’t just set it and forget it. Little seeds take a lot of tending and watering, and the soil for them to grow has to be viable. Just like that seed, we have to continue to nurture our goals and intentions all year long. For this, we can set markers for ourselves along the way. Reaching these markers helps us to feel accomplished and motivates us to keep moving forward. If we thoroughly outline our goals, then we can have smaller stepping stones on the way to a bigger goal. Reminders are a great way to keep track of this plan and continue to move forward, so that in 5-6 months we haven’t lost sight of the goal. Reminders could be little notes to ourselves, motivational quotes, a mantra, or even scheduling events on our calendars to check in with ourselves about the goal. 

Embrace change. Whatever intention we set, we must recognize that we are always in motion. As we are changing, it’s important to be flexible with our goals and allow them to grow and shift within the fluidity of our ever-changing lives. We don’t lose sight of the intention, but we allow it to evolve as we evolve.

Lastly, be gentle with ourselves! Change takes both hard work and time. It’s important that we be patient with ourselves and our process. We are all in the process of learning! If we fall behind or lose sight of the intention on occasion, we should accept that we sometimes have to fall down —  it’s a part of becoming stronger. We keep taking our goals in stride. The most vital piece is how we learn from our challenges, grow from them, and keep moving forward. We can also recognize our efforts through our joy and appreciation. What are the ways we can reward ourselves for our efforts and give ourselves a little sweetness? When we reach a milestone, we can treat ourselves to some self love! We need to do those things that bring us joy, be it diving into a good book, a hot bath, a new outfit, a massage, a class we’ve wanted to take, etc. Sometimes, the mountain goat has to simply stop and rest by the brook to admire the view.

If you’re looking to make your resolutions a reality, get started today!