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How Resolutions Set You Up for Failure, and What To Do Instead.

We’ve all heard of (and probably participated in) the ever-famous New Year's Resolutions. You know… those plans we make that are soon derailed half way through February.

Resolution has a tone of finality. The root word, "resolute," means to be determined and unwavering. Which can sound like a great thing, at first.

But let's think about that...for a whole entire year, you’re going to be nothing but determined and unwavering in your goals and mind-sets?

What if your career has a sudden or unexpected change? What if you go through a break-up? What if you find it extremely difficult to lose that weight? What if unexpected things happen (because, life)?

These things and so much more can easily throw a wrench into your plans. And when that happens, you can get frustrated. You may get down on yourself for not sticking with it. It can bring up feelings of being a failure. And then you return to your old habits and your old patterns, leaving your resolutions forgotten and abandoned, saying "Well next year, I'll do better."

Resolutions have a tendency to lose steam quickly. This is because January is actually a terrible time to make and start resolutions (and I’d argue that resolutions are not ever the solution, but we’ll get to that).

Through the holidays, most people have a hard time keeping their normal routine. We tend to indulge in lots of holiday food (which is totally okay). We tend to get away from our regular movement practices (gym, yoga, hiking, etc). We might even be a little short on cash and feel stressed about our finances. And for some, the holidays can be a difficult, emotional time.

So after all of that, suddenly on January 1st you are magically motivated to be a “new you?” See how that’s impractical and unrealistic?

Another important thing to note is that January is also in the dead of winter. January and February tend to be some of the coldest months, and this naturally encourages a period of inward reflection and hibernation. (Granted, San Diego winter is a little more tame than other places-but still, my point stands.)

Winter is time to think about the seeds we want to plant for the year. But those seeds might not get planted and take root until spring, and we might not start to see those seeds sprout and bloom until later in the year. That’s the natural cycle of nature.

When we try to fight against this natural rhythm, we often lose. We are, after all, a part of nature. It is easier to work with the cycles of the seasons than to work against them.

So now you ask, well, what if I have goals and things I want to accomplish this year?

GREAT. You can still have goals and you can still create plans. But I’m going to offer you a new way to look at it.

Instead of setting resolutions, set an intention for the year. My favorite way of doing this is to pick a word or a short phrase that encompasses the essence of my goals.

My intention last year was “commitment”—I wanted to be committed to my growing business as I stepped out of dog grooming completely and into massage and yoga full-time. I wanted to be committed to finding time for travel. I wanted to be committed to love—after three years of being single, I felt ready for a partnership.

Those things all happened. Not necessarily in the way I had thought or planned. But they happened all the same!

That’s why this form of setting intentions is great. Because no matter what life throws at you, those intentions can ebb and flow with the natural changes of life. It’s a reminder...a gentle encouragement.

So, when you have some time to get real with yourself, sit down and think about 2020. What goals do you have? Where do you want your priorities to lie? What do you want to make more time for and less time for?

Write those down. And then, sit with that, or meditate on it. What word or short phrase/mantra encompasses all those things? And then ask yourself, does that word or mantra allow for changes within the year?

Think about the seeds you want to plant, and how you want them to grow. And know that, if those seeds don’t take root, or if they don’t bloom this year, that’s okay. Forgive yourself, and allow yourself the time and space you need.

So often we are human DOINGS, but remember that you are a human BEING.

I'd love to hear your ideas for 2020 intentions! What's your word or mantra?

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