New Year’s Resolutions Are Impossible! (Focus on Intentions Instead)

I hope that the title of this article is self-explanatory. You all know what I mean. Few of us have been successful in bringing a resolution to DONE in the real world. This article is about how to use intentions, not resolutions, to accomplish your goals.

Most New Year’s resolutions don’t go past the third week of January because they are usually someone else’s goal, not yours.

If your family or friends think that you should get to the gym more often, drink less, eat better, run a 10-K or a marathon, take up yoga, try Pilates, begin to meditate, and so on, that’s fine, for them. For you, it’s just a list. However, if any one of those suggestions is truly yours, then go for it. If it’s not your idea, and you can’t buy into it 100%, let it go. Find what is important to you.

In 1981, the authors of the business journal Management Review coined the acronym SMART to help you make resolutions that you can actually achieve. Set your intentions like this:






Let’s start with just one intention: be specific.

Resolution/Intention: Get more exercise.

This is the most common New Year’s resolution. It also is the most quickly forgotten. Why? It’s way too general. There’s nothing specific about it. The owners of local fitness centers and big-name gyms love it because you will show up on January 6th, ready to go, resolution in mind, plunk down a year’s membership, take a free work out with a trainer, show up for a few sessions with her, and then you will disappear. The trainer may call you a few times, and try to get you back in, but work and life have gotten in the way and you just let another good idea go down the tubes.

No more resolutions. Make your intention specific. Do you want to get more exercise? Why? Is it to lose weight? No, what you really want is to wear your size 34 jeans. It’s a badge of honor to you; it says that you are not yet slipping into middle age, so this is what will motivate you, not identifying a specific number of pounds that created that muffin-top over your belt.

If it’s your idea to get more exercise to lose weight because your size 34 jeans don’t fit anymore, that’s legitimate. And even better, it’s your own goal, not someone else’s. You intend to look good in those size 34’s.

An intention is right now, in the present, not open-ended. It’s not a once-year goal; it’s today and everyday. Intend to eat better, intend to drink less, and intend to add more walking to our daily activities. Those intentions will get you back in those size 34 jeans. It won’t just happen but the strategy that you use will make easier than you think.

No one I have ever worked with was able to keep the weight off by counting calories, or ever enjoyed the process of losing weight with daily or weekly goals, but they loved being able to slip into that special dress or to wear those size 34 jeans. That’s concrete and do-able. The dress and the jeans were the prime motivator, not the weight.

Now, let’s set up a strategy.

Timing is everything in life and your New Year’s intention is no different. Schedule exercise in the morning to burn more calories. A morning workout is something you can make a habit.

When you first wake up, having not eaten for at least eight hours, your blood sugar is low. Since you need blood sugar to fuel a run or an exercise, morning exercise will use the fat stored in your tissues to supply the energy you need.

When you exercise after eating, whether it’s a donut or lunch, you use the energy from the food you’ve just consumed. In many cases, morning exercise may burn 20% more fat than post-food workouts. That is a big difference. I work out in the morning and my fuel is my stored fat and a banana. It works for me.

When we exercise in the morning, cardio workouts—swimming, running, even walking the dog— elevate our mood. We enjoy these effects all day. If we wait to exercise until the evening, we’ll end up sleeping through some of the good feelings. Those good feelings tie right back to that special dress or those size 34 jeans.

Studies also suggest that we’re more likely to adhere to our workout routine when we do it in the morning. So if you find yourself struggling to stick with a plan, schedule it for the morning. In addition, enlist a regular partner. This is an excellent way to reinforce your exercise habit.

If you are not a gym person, NIKE offers a NIKE+ Training Club App for iPhone and Android that will help you set up programs that you can do at home or on the road. I use it regularly and it keeps the workouts in focus.

Resolutions, certainly ones set once a year, don’t work. Focus on intentions and daily, attainable goals. Intend to eat better, intend to walk more, and intend to get more exercise every day. It is the daily goals and intentions that win the race, not a once-a-year resolution.

If you would like to talk more about this approach, please fill out the Contact form below the blog. We will be delighted to give you our views and we can even help you achieve your intentions, too.



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