How to Set Intentions Instead of Resolutions this Year

We have all heard it before. 

… Make New Year Resolutions…

…Make your goals SMART…  

…It takes (at least) 21 days to make a habit…

And who has made SMART goals/resolutions and implemented them for 21 days only to hit day 25, 26, 27 and the habit slowly disappears? 

Hand raised! 

Then comes the flood of self-deprecating thoughts, lowered self-esteem and a whole lotta self-loathing in a family-sized bag of dill pickle chips…. 

This was my pattern for years. I would make a SMART goal (if I even made goals), bust my butt for the first 3 weeks and slowly but surely, I would fall back into old patterns + self limiting beliefs. Or, if I did achieve a goal (like running a race), as soon as my goal was completed, I fell back into old patterns and never ran again. 

Can you relate? 

Have you ever tried to make a New Year Resolution only to either: 

  1. Give up on it within a few weeks or even days of making it; or
  2. Do not even bother making any goals or resolutions because you feel like “what’s the point?”

Maybe you have tried to make goals in the past only to be disappointed when you did not reach them… leaving a nasty feeling in your stomach when you think of setting new goals. 

Don’t feel bad if this resonates…research shows 80-90% of people struggle to make and/or keep their New Year Resolutions. 

If 2020 taught us one thing - it is that we have to start doing things differently. 

And I don't know about you - but having 80-90% people struggling with setting + keeping life goals…. obviously something has got to change.  

This year, let’s ditch the stereotypical New Year Resolutions and change things up for 2021. 

Let’s instead focus on what REALLY matters.  

Let’s start getting INTENTIONAL.

How to be More Present and Aligned in 2021 

As we head into another year with the conscious awareness of how uncertain life can be, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, lost, exhausted and uncertain of what to do next.  

2021 is still going to challenge us mentally and emotionally and it is more important than ever to turn inwards. 

One way to prepare for the unknown is by focusing on what you can control. 

How you choose to show up and live your life moment to moment.

Taking the time to set intentions and getting clear on WHO you want to be and HOW you want to show up each day is going to help you gain the internal self mastery so you can begin to live a more intentional, conscious and emotionally balanced life. 

When you get clear on what REALLY matters to you in life…when you have a sense of direction, it is the first step in being more intentional. Because when you move through life with no set direction or general idea of where you want to go it is like going in your car and telling Google Maps where to take you without setting a destination. Who knows where you will end up! Although this option can be fun for certain times in your life, there comes a point where you stop wanting to give your power away and begin to create the life you truly desire. 

If you are interested in living a more intentional lifestyle in 2021, a lifestyle that is focused on your holistic wellness - mental, physical, spiritual and emotional - but don’t really know where to start  and how to actually keep the changes then the first step you should take is learning to set intentions for your life by creating a life vision. 

5 Steps to Create Intentions for your Year Ahead

Step One: Reflect and Reconnect

The first step in making any change is awareness. Because with awareness comes clarity. Take the time to reflect on your past year and ask yourself what went well and what you want to let go of. This is such an important piece of this process - because before we can move forward, we must bring awareness to what we want to let go of. Ask yourself: What lessons do you want to bring into 2021? What do you want to let go of in 2021?

Step Two: Choose a Theme for the Year

By choosing an overarching theme or focus for the year, you are giving yourself a mantra to guide your decisions moment to moment.

A theme acts as a North Star, guiding you towards your ultimate desires. Allowing you to find peace and happiness in the present while still aligning for the future - focusing on who you are rather than what you achieve. This may be a single word or a phrase

Step Three: Focus on your IDENTITIES

Rather than focusing on AREAS of your life to build intentions around, you are going to focus on your IDENTITIES. Neuroscience has shown time and time again the importance of aligning our desires with the Identities you want to BE.  Think about identities you hold - Student, Spouse, Parent, Entrepreneur, etc… and focus on HOW you want to show up in that identity. What type of PERSON do you want to be?  A more conscious parent/spouse/friend? A more emotionally balanced person who prioritizes self care and self love? 

By focusing on your identity you allow yourself to make conscious and subconscious shifts based on how you are showing up each moment; versus getting down on yourself for not achieving a certain expectation by a certain date and throwing the towel in on your goals.

Step Four: Create Actions for Alignment 

Giving yourself intentional actions under each identity, provides you with guidelines as you continue to evolve into your ideal self. These do not need to be framed as SMART goals, but rather GUIDING PRINCIPLES which are going to keep you aligned with your ideal life. Small sustainable, attainable actions you can take moment to moment to help you fully embrace the person you truly want to be BE.  For example if you want to be a more present mother/spouse or friend what are 1-2 ways you could do this? Maybe it looks like consciously putting your phone down during conversations, maybe it looks like honouring the other person’s feelings, maybe it looks like biting your tongue before saying something hurtful.

Step Five: Review and Re-Align

Over the coming months, it is important to review your intentions. Because let’s be honest, life gets going and it is easy to fall back into our subconscious patterns and beliefs. By reviewing your yearly intentions and reflecting on them every month or so, you are continuing to bring awareness to the person you want to show up as each day. 

This can be done in many ways - writing your intentions in a Self-Growth Journal and reviewing them every so often; creating a vision board, writing your intentions on que cards and having them by your bedside. The key is you want to OLD FASHION write them out pen to paper and have them somewhere you will see them. 

In Summary

2021 is still going to present challenges to ALL OF US. 

As a Collective and as Individuals; we must begin to learn how to focus on what we can control first - our internal states - so that we can show up each day ready to tackle the unknown with more confidence, intention, and awareness. One important way of doing this is getting clear on your personal intentions for the year.  

If you are wanting a more in-depth walk through with multiple examples of how you can set intentions for your year ahead, grab your free Life Vision Worksheet here. 

Meet the author 

Lora Devries, Social Worker + Holistic Mental Health Blogger
Lora Devries specializes in supporting people who are ready to make changes in their life to create healthy mental health habits so they can live a more conscious and intentional life. After noticing how hard it was for herself and her clients to let go of their self-limiting beliefs and keep healthy habits, Lora immersed herself in neuroscience and quantum physics to understand why. Combining her practical social work skills with the science of the brain and the heart, she supports others to make lasting change from within. Lora guides people to think outside the box, do the inner work, the shadow work and the heart centered work so they can be more confident, happier and self-empowered to create a life based on their definition of happiness.
Instagram: @Lora.Devries
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