If you’re kicking off 2024 with a list of New Year’s resolutions, put a new spin on the age-old tradition.
Research shows that only 9 percent of Americans who make resolutions keep them, and most give up by February. And when resolutions are unachieved, it can take a toll on your emotional and physical wellbeing.
This year, cut yourself some slack and skip the lofty goals. Set positive intentions that can help you discover and build habits that matter most to you.
What’s the difference between a resolution and an intention?
New Year’s resolutions are typically focused on things you want to fix or change about yourself or your lifestyle – like weight, diet, exercise or unhealthy habits. They tend to be specific and rigid and are often too big to accomplish.
Resolutions also leave little wiggle room for error. When those all-or-nothing declarations go unfulfilled, it can lead to feelings of guilt, low self-esteem, and increased anxiety or depression. When you resolve to “exercise 30 minutes every day,” one missed day at the gym may feel like failure. Abandoned resolutions may even worsen the habits you’re trying to correct.
An intention, on the other hand, focuses on how you want to live your life, not correcting something that’s wrong. Intentions are broader, less fixed and more forgiving than resolutions and allow for flexibility, creativity and adaptability.
Think of an intention as a commitment to a process – not an end-result. It also opens you up to multiple pathways. For example, if your intention is to take better care of your body, that could include:
- Drinking more water.
- Getting outside each day.
- Going to a yoga class with a friend.
- Eating more fruits and vegetables.
Even if you have an off week, you can adjust and keep going.
How can I set New Year’s intentions?
The first step to setting intentions for the new year is to identify your core values. Make a list about what’s important in your life and what you want more of.
Personal values may include:
- Physical and mental wellbeing.
- Personal growth.
- Family and friends.
- Financial security.
From that list, prioritize what you want to focus on in the new year. A few examples might be to:
- Move daily.
- Get enough sleep.
- Find ways to connect with others.
- Learn something new.
- Spend more time outdoors.
Here are some tips on how to set your intentions and put them into action:
- Keep it simple. Focus on something that’s realistic and achievable and determine one thing you can do each day to move you closer to your goal. For example, instead of resolving to “get more exercise”, opt to take the stairs each morning. As you see progress, you’re more likely to stay motivated.
- Make it positive. Studies show that negative emotions can override their positive counterparts. Begin each intention with “I will” instead of “I won’t”.
- Write it down. Physically writing your intention will bring it to the forefront of your mind and help make it stick. It can be as simple as a word or short phrase written on Post-it notes and placed where you can see it.
- Find an intention buddy. Sharing your intentions with someone you trust and who shares your values can help keep you accountable. Check in regularly on your how you’re doing.
- Track your progress. Keep regular notes on where you’re at and adjust as needed. If you get off-track, revisit the original “why” of your intention and how it aligns with your values.
- Celebrate your success. Remember, intentions are about the process, not the outcome. Applaud and reward yourself when you accomplish small objectives.
Indigo is your partner in health
If healthy habits top your list of New Year’s intentions, Indigo is here for you. From urgent care for minor illness and injuries to anxiety and depression screening, we make it easy to get the care you need, when you need it.