Why you should swap resolutions to intentions in the New Year

Niamh Quinlan

2020 has been one hell of year. Really, it’s been hell.

So, it makes sense if you want to do what you can to make sure 2021 is better through achievable improvements – or resolutions – in your own life.

Resolutions are notorious for being a checklist of tasks that are unrealistic at best and that don’t last into February. The idea is that it’s meant to be a list of goals to better yourself and your life that you work on for the whole year and continue afterward.

However, they eventually become things of dread which are then thrown out and never mentioned again.

This can be seriously unhealthy, especially if you’re anything like me and have a fear of failure/giving up.

So, how can you actually achieve your goals? Start with the vocabulary. Throw out that idea of “New Year’s resolutions” and replace it with “New Year’s intentions.” It may seem small but it can make the difference.

Resolution implies there’s something to be resolved or fixed, but maybe you’re not broken. Intentions give you more of an aim or plan that you can adjust and change.

That’s really what’s needed right now: this virus really doesn’t allow you to plan past three days from now. A gentler, less restrictive plan is the way to go.

Psychologist, health coach and author of self-help books, Suzy Reading, said in an interview with RTÉ that we should “toss aside punitive resolutions or plans for grand, sweeping change that is nigh on impossible to sustain.”

“Focus on nourishment and small incremental waves of change,” she said.

The Harvard Medical School said you should “dream big” and be ambitious with your goals. Then break these down into tiny goals. Even as simple as the first on being “make a list.”

Harvard compares this to when you get a loyalty card and they give you two stamps instead of one on your first purchase. It encourages you to come back, having already completed one task before you’ve even started.

Surround yourself with positivity to rid you brain of the punitive attitudes Reading spoke about. Positive affirmations have been scientifically proven to lower stress, increase physical activity and positively impact academic ability.

So, go easy on yourself. Intend to do things, move your goals, change them and then move them again if you want to. Focus on keeping yourself happy this year, and have nothing but good intentions.

Niamh Quinlan

Image Credit: Chuck Joe

Note: This article was reuploaded on 24/03/2021 due to a fault with The College View website.