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Just stop setting a New Year’s resolution; try a New Year’s intention instead

Five multi-colored sticky notes on a light purple wall. The words Set an intention are on three of the notes.

I call shenanigans on our so-called New Year’s resolutions.

Please tell me if you’ve had a different experience, but in my experience New Year’s resolutions are not kept for more than a few days despite the certainty that the definition implies. According to Dictionary.com, a resolution is: “the act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action, method, procedure, etc.”

To me, New Year’s resolutions are far less firm than this definition lets on. How many times have you or others around you said, “I’m going to ____ in the new year,” but you never do it?

Doesn’t sound very determined to me.

That’s one of the many reasons why I think the practice of setting New Year’s resolutions doesn’t support the goal of actually doing a new thing. We may state the resolution during a conversation or toast on New Year’s Eve, but we do not create a plan for carrying it out through the new year.

I stopped setting New Year’s resolutions years ago because I didn’t think there was much point to it. As my yoga practice deepened, however, I started shifting a new ritual. I now set a New Year’s intention.

Try an “intention” instead

An intention, according to the Dictionary.com definition, seems far less solid than a resolution: “an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.” Not nearly as firm-sounding a word. Intentions also have a bad rap in our culture. You know – with the road to hell being paved with all those good ones we have.

An intention may not seem as solid when we compare these dictionary definitions, but an intention may actually help us set some annual guidance for the year that also has some room for adaptability. After all, there are far too many unknowns in a given year for us to never need to make any adjustments.

For the past three New Year’s, I’ve hosted my New Year’s Eve Restorative Yoga Celebration during which I invite participants to name their intention for the year. I practice along with the group. Last year I also followed my own advice to name a one or two-word intention, write it on sticky notes and then place them around the house where I would see them.

How my 2022 intention went

My sticky notes are still on my mirror and coffee/tea cupboard where I placed them nearly a year ago. My intention, “streamline,” has been in my consciousness every single day since then because of those reminders. I was originally imagining that this streamlining would largely apply to my business. I thought I could learn more about how to use my time and resources more efficiently. I did learn about repurposing content for a variety of projects and creating processes for tracking data, I have also leaned into the nuance of my streamlining intention.

I’ve learned that I had to do less, get more rest and prioritize myself. I’ve learned that there’s a shadow side to streamlining – withdrawing a little too much – which I did because I was so burned out on being rejected and failing at my business. Streamlining has enabled me to say no to a lot of non-essential things in my life. But, I admit that after this streamlined year, I’m ready to welcome in more abundance into my life.

And for 2023 …

Abundance is going to be my intention for 2023. I hope that I get as nuanced an experience from it as I did in my year of streamlining.

Do you want to join me in setting and keeping an intention in 2023? Celebrate the new year with me Dec. 31, 2022, 1-3 p.m. EST, with a yoga dance party, gentle movement, restorative yoga (the laying around kind), guided meditation and reflection – all designed to unstick your energy and fill you with joy for 2022. This class is held for six people in person in Columbus, OH, or via Zoom — there’s no pressure to turn on your camera and lots of encouragement to do whatever your body needs! Register now.

P.S. Want to defy burnout all year long? This yoga celebration, weekly yoga classes, monthly group coaching, annual planning sessions and much more is included in my Defy the Trend Community Packages. The community is open for new members through Jan. 6, 2023, but won’t reopen again until spring 2023. Jump in now to start your new year burnout-free!