Scrap The New Years Resolutions
Set your intentions in a daily journal instead.
Credit: Ben Bowens
A lot of people go crazy at this time of year thinking that they will set themselves New Year's Resolutions in order to counter-balance the effect that the festive shenanigans has had on their bodies.
Fact: Around 80% of people who make health and fitness New Year Resolutions fail by Jan. 20. If this sounds familiar, don’t beat yourself up. Change your language. I like my clients to set intentions rather than resolutions. It is a gentler word with less pressure and I see more people achieve their intentions rather than fail at their resolutions.
A good way to keep aligned with your intentions is to keep a journal. This is a simple, painless method that supports and keeps track of your progress, exercise, workouts and nutrition. It does not have to be too complicated, just have a jotter handy to keep a record of your day and in order to remind yourself of your intentions.
You are capable of achieving far beyond anything you have ever imagined. All it takes is the desire to take action and the persistence to keep focused until you finally succeed. It takes minutes a day to maintain and is designed to help you succeed. I believe that success should be recorded. It can be difficult to stay on track with any intent, diet or workout plan. A journal empowers you with a new level of clarity and personal understanding that will make it possible to successfully see your intentions come to life, no matter how large and impossible they may at first appear. The key to successful intent implementation is to keep your initial desires and motivations fresh in your mind. By reviewing your progress each and every day, your intentions become more than just wishful thinking, the consistent revision and action re-patterns the pathways of your brain, embedding empowered new commands and thought processes.
Tracking your personal progress on a daily basis, setting intentions and following through is an incredibly rewarding experience. It takes determination and endurance to finish what you start. Including a journal into your plan will make it easy to see your own progress actually occurring. The simple act of recording and reviewing your personal statistics can make a dramatic difference on your perception of yourself and your future. I would encourage you to give yourself 12 weeks. This time frame is effective when you follow a structured exercise, mind, body and nutrition program. The first four weeks of any new programme you should start to feel better, the next four weeks are when we see changes beginning to happen and the last four weeks are when you effect real change. You will be able to actually view these transformations taking place throughout your journal.
Setting intentions is an important part of any lifestyle change and in the case of starting a regular exercise program is essential for success. Intentions help us see into the future and allow for visualisation of a future state before it happens. Intentions need to be realistic, challenging, achievable, and incremental. Intentions help keep motivation, focus and desire for change. There are a few things for you to do in order to make your intentions come into fruition:
• Write your intentions down (using the S.M.A.R.T principle). People who commit their intentions to paper are more likely to follow through on them.
• Display your intentions where you will see them often, for example post them on your mirror, fridge, or in your car. By seeing them frequently you are reinforcing them into your subconscious mind.
• Keep your intentions in the positive, for example instead of stating that “I don’t want to put on any weight”, say “I look and feel, fit and fabulous”. The subconscious mind does not recognise the word ‘don’t’ and will thus hear “I want to put on weight”. It is also more motivating if you set intentions that are about achieving something rather than avoiding something!
The S.M.A.R.T Principle:
Your intentions should always be; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. Too often people will come up with non-specific intentions such as lose weight, get stronger or tone up. If you have not set the parameters for your success you will not know how you are progressing, not know whether you are on the right path towards your intentions, or not know when you have even achieved them.
An example of a specific intention would be: “I will lose 5 kg, and/or 2 dress sizes, by August 1 20xx so that I can look and feel sexy for my birthday”.
When picking a big intention, it is the advisable to break it down into smaller ‘chunks’ or mini intentions. These are considered short and medium term. Remember that when writing down your intentions, you must think about whether they are achievable and realistic (your coach or PT can help you with this). You want your intentions to be challenging without being too far out of reach (this will only hinder your motivation).
On the flip side you want to ensure that your intentions are not too easy, as this will mean that you are less likely to extend yourself and thus grow. One of the most important aspects of the S.M.A.R.T principle is the ‘Time’ component. It is absolutely essential that you set a completion time for each of your intentions, so that you will be spurred into action. If an end time is not set it is very easy to keep putting the intention off. Intention setting is an important aspect of life, and can be utilised across all areas, e.g. professional, financial, spiritual, mental and physical. You can set as many intentions as you like in order for you to grow and develop.
So, scrap the resolutions and set your intentions and watch your life change one day at a time.