A brand new January and a New Year of resolutions and intentions.
As that famous ball dropped, we set our sights on new, fresh habits, effective routines, and prosperous ways of creating the year, body, and life we want most.
We set resolutions to do less of, or even stop, habitual actions, like overeating, overdrinking, overworking, or even overspending.
We promised to change comfortable habits, such as sitting too much, or staying in an unfulfilling relationship or dead-end job.
We set intentions to feel more joy, more love, more compassion, and more ease.
Either way, about 80% of us will opt-out of our New Year’s plans by February …that’s next month!
Personally, I’ve done my share of setting New Year’s resolutions and intentions.
Some I’ve achieved. Others, I’ve not.
Perhaps my “why” wasn’t compelling or my commitment strong enough.
But like you, I’ve failed at keeping many of my resolutions and intentions.
Why Resolutions Fail
Often, our resolutions and intentions involve something we want to stop, decrease, or increase.
Maybe it’s less weight, less anxiety, less debt, more joy, more love, or more time.
We start out the year full steam ahead and even gather evidence that our new resolutions and intentions are evolving.
However, along the way we lose steam, our engine sputters, and many of us stall and even quit.
The truth is, no matter what we want more or less of, neither will happen unless we understand the brain’s involvement in setting goals and then achieving them.
It’s pretty neurological, but I’ll keep it simple.
A Little Bit About The Brain
What we know about the brain’s role in setting and achieving goals is that what we think causes the feelings we need to take the actions that will create the results we want.
In other words, if your intention is to act in ways that will enable you to achieve your desired result, you must think thoughts that cause the feelings that then drive the action.
However, it’s important to understand that our primitive brain often has a different plan in mind.
It prefers that we think thoughts that cause us to avoid taking any action that might threaten our survival.
Our primitive brain has three main functions: 1) keep us safe, 2) keep us comfortable, and 3) exert as little energy as possible.
Therefore, our primitive brain struggles when we feel positive feelings that motivate us to set big goals, take risks, step outside of our comfort zone, and pursue our dreams.
Instead, it wants us to stay safe inside on the couch watching Netflix with a bag of chips where it can keep a close eye on us.
However, in contemporary society, we don’t need this type of primitive protection.
In fact, we’re evolving into a society that indulges way too much in the primitive brain’s hovering.
Here’s An Example
Let’s say my New Year’s intention is to exercise and move more.
Exercise stretches me out, movement feels amazing, and both nurture my aging joints.
In order to sustain a regular exercise and movement habit, I must practice thinking thoughts that cause the feelings I need to drive the intended action.
Therefore, instead of setting intentions to increase exercise and movement only, I also include the thoughts and feelings I’ll need to sustain my exercise and movement goals.
Thus, my New Year’s thought is, “I’m caring for and nurturing my body when I exercise and stretch it regularly.”
Caring for my body is important to me and so this New Year’s thought causes me to feel dedicated, energized, and committed to nurturing my body regularly through movement and exercise.
Plus, I know and trust that feeling these feelings will drive the action I desire.
On those days when my primitive brain would rather I avoid my New Year’s goals, I return to my thought, “I’m caring for my body when I exercise and stretch it regularly” and get my butt moving.
Overtime and with consistent practice, my brain will eventually create the new habit of exercising and moving regularly.
I know that I will be successful with my New Year’s resolution by making the commitment in my mind first.
3 Steps To Setting New Year’s Resolutions And Intentions That Work
So here’s the 3-step process:
1. First, ask yourself, “What do I really, really, really want to have more of or less of, or even stop in the New Year?”
Go big because you now know how to make it happen!
2. Then ask yourself, “How will I need to feel in order to take the necessary actions to achieve what I want?”
Important: Negative feelings will not sustain positive action. In other words, shaming yourself into driving to the gym 3 days a week will not serve your intention or you. Positive emotions drive positive action.
3. Next, ask yourself, “What thought will I need to think to cause the feelings I’ll need to drive the action?”
For example, if you want to feel energized or motivated, what will you need to be thinking?
From here, it’s super important to check your thoughts and feelings daily.
Because of the primitive brain’s role in keeping us safe, comfortable, and exerting as little energy as possible, without managing your mind daily, your primitive brain will take over…and you will end up back on the couch waiting for the next ball to drop.
So now you know how to create a successful New Year.
Go and set some juicy intentions and yummy resolutions.
And remember, a successful New Year begins in your mind, not on the couch.