Intentions instead of Resolutions for the New Year

There’s always a lot of hype this time of year about New Years Resolutions. Usually about the time you’re reading this, your resolutions have gone out the window., so let’s look at intentions instead of  resolutions for the new year.

Here’s the problem with resolutions:

  1. Resolutions involve gritting your teeth and bearing it.
  2. They’re predicated on the idea of doing something you don’t really want to do, like being more productive, procrastinating less, etc.
  3. The underlying reason why you don’t want to do it is buried and because it’s not conscious, can rear its ugly head to sabotage you.

So what can you do instead if you want to improve your life or some aspect of it? Here’s an alternative plan:

  1. Think about your intention regarding the area of your life you’d like to improve.

Let’s say you want to feel good about your body. That becomes your intention: I want to feel good about my body.

  1. Learn to recognize your negative beliefs and self-talk that may be sabotaging you.

The negative self-talk you have about your body has been going on for a long time, and takes conscious intervention to change.

  1. Change the negative beliefs and stop the self-talk that goes with it; a four-step process. 

Remember your original intention was to feel good about your body. This could conceivably happen if you didn’t exercise or loose weight. I’m not suggesting you don’t also do these things, but even if you exercise every day and never eat another sweet again, if you still have the negative belief, you’re not going to feel good about your body, I promise.

The first step is fairly easy, and that is to become aware of having negative feelings about your body. You probably already know what this feels like. It may be a “yuk” kind of feeling, or one of disappointment in yourself, or maybe a generalized kind of depression.

The second step is to then ask, ”what was I just telling myself about myself?” It may take a minute to find the thought, as you’re so accustomed to thinking it, it might slip right by you. But a feeling is always preceded by a thought and you’ll find it if you keep asking. Let’s say you discover that you’re telling yourself “you’ll never loose weight.”

The third step is to ask, “What’s really true about this statement?”

Maybe what’s true is that you haven’t lost weight in the past, or if you’ve lost weight, maybe you’ve put it back on again. But what is really true about your weight and the future is that you simply don’t know.

As humans, we don’t get to know the future in advance and while that seems like a no-brainer, many of us act as if we know the future, hence the statement, “I’ll never lose weight.”

So if you stay with what is actually true, which is you don’t know if you’ll lose weight in the future or not, that is a far cry from I’ll never lose weight.

The fourth step is to be with the truth and see if there are action steps that can be taken to get you closer to your original intention, in this case, of wanting to feel good about your body.

Action steps need to be small and doable. If you haven’t exercised in a while, telling yourself you’ll exercise for an hour a day 5 times a week isn’t going to work. Start with 20 minutes 3 times a week until that is relatively painless. Then go up in 5-minute intervals. This part is crucial, otherwise it’s too daunting and you won’t continue to do it.

Also, think of a type of exercise that might be fun. Or if you don’t like to exercise and that’s going to far, what seems less burdensome. Remember, small and doable are your mantras.

Please keep in mind, I am only using body image as an example, and this can be applied to absolutely any intention.

The main difference between an intention and a resolution, is that the resolution starts with the action step, and the intention ends up there, getting at the negative beliefs that might be getting in your way.

Stay conscious about your intentions, be willing to look at the negative beliefs that may be hindering you, and take small action steps that support your intentions. This will go a long way toward helping you have a stupendous New Year!

For more information, visit expatcounselingandcoaching.com.   Or expatwomenmastermind.com.

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