Have you ever noticed that New Year’s resolutions can be very diet-like? People frequently make resolutions related to weight and exercise, after all, often with very restrictive rules. Additionally, the times that I’ve set resolutions, it feels like something I have to do, or a specific way I have to act, period, without much room for flexibility.
For example, if I say I’m going to eat in a more healthy way, I might be inclined to change everything overnight and just force myself to eat what I think is healthy. This could include cutting out sugar and lots of fat, among other things. But this could also mean that if I slip, for instance having a piece of birthday cake, or some chocolates, I might get discouraged, feel like I’ve blown my resolution, and give it up altogether.
That’s why I like the idea of setting an intention instead of a resolution.
This approach seems much more realistic and doable. I can move forward with a specific aim, while realizing I might have many different ways to get there. Some paths might have more twists and turns and bumps and detours than others, but it doesn’t mean I can’t achieve my goal.
From this perspective, if I set an intention to eat in a more healthy way, I can approach each day, each meal, as it comes, thinking about what the healthier options are, but still allowing some give and take.
In this context, a piece of birthday cake or chocolate might be part of my intent to enjoy food in moderation, knowing it will make me less inclined to feel restricted and there less likely to later over-eat. Additionally, it doesn’t influence any future choices except that I may feel like eating something more nutritious later on; it wouldn’t derail my overall goal.
For some people, resolutions may work fine, but since that’s not the case for me, my intention for the coming year is to continue practicing mindfulness in all areas of my life, not just eating.
Whether you set a resolution or intention or neither, I hope the New Year brings you and your families many good things.