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Setting Meaningful Intentions for the Year Ahead

Dec. 30, 2019With the holidays past us and a fresh, new year just ahead, many of us have New Year’s resolutions on our minds. While it seems the days of big, hefty resolutions are long gone — thankfully most of us have wizened up to the fact that only about 20 percent of resolutions are successful. It’s hard not to want to set some sort of goal for the new year.



After all, the transition from one year to the next — and in this year’s case, one decade to the next — provides the perfect opportunity to make some meaningful changes, but we’re not talking about the typical New Year’s resolutions to exercise more and lose weight. No, instead of setting hardline, black and white resolutions, we’re making the case for setting intentions. Whether it’s a short list of top intentions or an overarching theme word for the year ahead, setting intentions instead of resolutions could help you stick to your goals instead of giving them up in mid-January.

How? We’ve all been there — making a list of resolutions for January 1, only to throw them out the minute we slip up: We skip the gym for a day and never go back, we enjoy that hard-won and super delicious chocolate chip cookie and throw the healthy-eating resolution out the window, or realize that learning a new language is hard and stop practicing. New Year’s resolutions ask us for perfection, and in setting them, we ask ourselves for perfection. But when we slip up? It’s often all over. Instead of picking ourselves back up and dusting ourselves off, we throw out the entire resolution. Additionally, we have a tendency to set a lot of resolutions, which makes it even harder to keep them. Changing your life takes work and practice, and while the first day of a new year is a great time to start working toward those changes, there’s no guarantee they’ll actually stick. It’s up to you to make that happen.

Intentions, on the other hand offer something different. Instead of perfection, intentions offer opportunity.

Instead of black and white, either/or (think: healthy/not-healthy, learn a language/or don’t), intentions allow us to recognize our own humanness and imperfections. Yes, we might fall off the bike as we’re attempting to learn it, but we can always get back on with the intention of improving.

Learning to give ourselves the grace of intentions takes work. It’s easy to approach the start of the year thinking, “This is it! 2020 is the year I finally do X or accomplish Y,” but with practice and mindfulness, setting intentions could be the key to actually achieving those goals by providing an open-endedness that is often absent from resolutions. Some people choose a set of intentions for the year ahead, while others choose an overarching theme or word for the year (think “service” for those looking to become more involved within their community, or “mindful” for someone looking to slow down). 

However you choose to approach your intentions, take some time to think deeply on the year ahead and how you’d like to shape it. Leave your phone somewhere else — in a separate room or turned off entirely, and grab a pen and a notebook where you can jot down your thoughts. What worked for 2019? What didn’t serve you? Are there habits you’d like to break and leave behind? How would you like to feel in 2020? More connected? Energized? Now, what intentions can you pull from those thoughts? If you need a few ideas for moving from resolutions to intentions, below we’re sharing some top New Year’s resolutions for 2020 and some shifts in intention that could replace them:

#1—Resolution: Lose weight  

Intention: Practice intuitive eating

 

#2—Resolution: Exercise

Intention: Do something active every day (even if it’s just a short walk)

 

#3—Resolution: Be smarter with money

Intention: Be more mindful of purchases

 

#4—Resolution: Be less stressed

Intention: Use a meditation app to learn to slow down

 

#5—Resolution: Eat healthier

Intention: Cook from scratch more often

 

#6—Resolution: Make more friends

Intention: Nurture the relationships you have

 
 

How about you? How are you shifting your perspective for the new year? Share with us by tagging us on social at @AvocadoMattress and #AvocadoGreenMagazine

Julie O'Boyle

By Julie O'Boyle

 —  Julie O'Boyle is a freelance writer and content strategist with a background in fashion and DIY and a devotion to the outdoors and functional nutrition. Currently residing in the woods of Maine, when she's not writing you can find her at the beach or on a mountain, or otherwise getting her hands dirty.

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