New Year Intentions

By now I think enough studies have been done and published over the years that we all pretty much know that New Year resolutions inevitably get broken and/or simply don’t last for very long.  A small change in terminology, however, from “resolutions” to “intentions” may actually be very helpful in allowing us to ultimately create a more meaningful life experience, and end the cycle of broken resolutions.

Resolutions, at least as I have always understood them to be, are generally specific goals one sets out to accomplish in the new year. And while a specific goal it not necessarily a bad thing, it is by definition fixed in nature and there can be only 2 outcomes: achievement or failure.  Failing sucks – we feel like failure and potentially make our lives even worse than had we never even set a resolution.  On the flipside, if the goal is met, that may be all well and good and even admirable, especially if meeting the goal was a stretch, but achievement is often anti-climactic. “Ok, so what’s next?”  All that struggle and here we are again, unfulfilled and needing to set another goal to chase with the same two possible outcomes. Repeat…

Setting intentions, however, gives us freedom to still set goals, but the goals (resolutions) are not the aim, nor are they what we measure our success by.

The aim is to be realizing our intention(s) every day, and through that find fulfillment.

The most common New Year resolution is to lose weight, and I’d venture to say that most people would have a number in mind – losing let’s say 5 kg in the new year.  With or without a deadline attached to that goal, there is no fulfillment until/if the 5 kg are lost.

Given that statistically speaking most people don’t fulfill their resolutions, especially when it comes to weight, the most popular choice for a new year resolution, chances are you’re setting yourself up for failure.  But by re-characterizing the resolution into an intention you might instead set your intention to “I will be a healthier person in 2017.”  This is something to strive for and take steps toward every day of the year, and can be a mantra to live by.  Losing 5 kg may then be a short-term goal as part of living that intention, but it’s not the end game.  And if it turns out you only lose 4 kg you don’t see yourself as a failure. You’re not a failure – you actually lost 4 kg which has made you a healthier person!

On that note, here’s to a healthy 2017 and may you live out your New Year Resolutions Intentions each and every day of the year.

Chris Saye
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Chris is a family office executive, coach and writer. He is a former partner with both Arthur Andersen and Ernst & Young, and currently manages MarcWhittaker, a network of family office advisors in Singapore. He is a fluent Russian-speaker, having spent 15 years living and working in Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Chris has been married to his wife Galina for over 20 years and together they have three children and two grandchildren.

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