Another January 1, 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 life we want most.
We set resolutions to do less of, or perhaps even stop, habitual actions, such as overeating, overdrinking, overworking, or overspending.
We promised to challenge comfortable inactions, such as spending too much time on the couch, staying in an unfulfilling relationship, or boring job.
We set intentions to feel more joy, more love, more compassion, and serve and give more.
Either way, about 80% of us will opt-out of our resolutions and intentions by February of the New Year.
I’ve done my share of setting New Year’s resolutions and intentions.
Some have come to fruition. Some have not.
Perhaps my “why” wasn’t compelling or my commitment strong.
Nonetheless, like you, I’ve failed at keeping most resolutions and intentions in my life.
Why Resolutions Fail
Often, our resolutions involve something we want to stop or decrease.
Our intentions generally involve something we want to increase or do more of.
We start out the year full steam ahead and even gather evidence that our new resolutions and intentions are working.
However, along the way we lose steam, our engine sputters, and for many of us, like 80%, we stall.
The truth is, no matter what we want more or less of, neither will happen unless we understand the whole resolution/intention process and how to keep our momentum going; 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 resolutions and intentions (results) is that thoughts are at the helm of causing the feelings we want, and then, the actions we desire; it’s our actions that create our results.
In other words, if your intention is to act a certain way more often, in order to sustain your desired action, you must think the thoughts that cause the feelings that then drive the action.
However, it’s important to understand that our ego has a different plan for us.
It prefers that we think negative thoughts and avoid taking any type of action that might put our survival at risk.
See, our primitive ego brain has three main survival functions: 1) keeping us safe, 2) keeping us comfortable, and 3) exerting as little energy as possible.
Therefore, our primitive brain struggles when we feel positive feelings that inspire us to take risks, step outside of our comfort zone, and pursue our dreams.
Instead, it wants us to stay 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 ego protection…and in fact, we’re evolving into a society that indulges way too much in the ego’s hovering.
Here’s An Example
Let’s say my New Year’s intention is to exercise more in 2018.
Exercise stretches me out, feels amazing, and helps my aging joints.
In order to make regular exercise a habit, knowing that my ego will want to talk me out of exercising, I must commit to thinking thoughts that cause the feelings I need to drive the intended action.
Therefore, instead of setting intentions to increase exercise only, I also add to my New Year’s intentions the thoughts and feelings that I’ll need to sustain my budding exercise habits.
To ensure that I maintain my exercise intentions, my New Year’s intended 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 exercise; and I know and trust that feeling these feelings will drive the action I desire.
On those days when my ego would rather I avoid and resist my exercise intention, 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 regularly; thus, I already 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. What do you want to have more of (intention) or less of, or maybe even stop (resolution) in the New Year?
Go big because you now know how to make it happen!
2. Next, what feeling(s) will you need to feel to put this resolution or intention into action?
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 or neutral emotions drive positive action.
3. What thought(s) will you need to think to cause the feeling(s) you’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 ego’s role in keeping us safe, comfortable, and exerting as little energy as possible, without managing our mind daily, our ego will take over…and you will end up back on the couch.
Now go and have an amazing New Year!
Set some juicy intentions and yummy resolutions.
And remember, successful resolutions and intentions begin in your mind!