New Year’s intentions | AspenTimes.com

New Year’s intentions

Sam Wagner

How are those resolutions going? Break any yet?

The annual tradition of New Year's resolutions has been going on for a few weeks now, as millions across the country aim to drastically change some part of their daily routine in an attempt to better themselves.

The reasons that we all do this seem to be a bit arbitrary, generally following the line of thought that a new year seems as good a time as any to eat less, stress less, fight less or work out more. A good idea, if a little difficult considering it follows the holidays, one of the most stressful and indulgent times of the year.

If you ask me, finding a week to take off work in the depths of May so you can focus on changing a habit or two might be more effective, but I haven't tried.

That's beside the point. Many set resolutions for this time, establishing lofty ideals to follow through in the hopes that eventually you'll forget you had to force yourself to turn over this new leaf in the first place. Unfortunately, most fail at following through in their resolutions. Studies in the past few years show that around 80 percent of people break a resolution by February.

And therein lies the problem.

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Failure.

When someone says, "I will work out three times a week," or "I want to stick to this diet consisting of Central European foods that don't contain the vowel E," they create this concrete line of obligation. You do, or you don't. Either you do end up going to the gym on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or you don't adhere to your diet when your neighbor brings over an incredible trdelnik.

People don't live by these hard lines, at least when dealing with things in everyday life. And, once you have broken a resolution for the first time, it's easy to just cut it off entirely and not continue with the positive task of trying to improve yourself.

So, instead, for this year, I'm trying something else. I'm setting intentions for the new year.

Now, in full disclosure and at the risk of playing into stereotypes, I admit that I shamelessly stole this from a podcast I listen to. But it really stuck with me.

Rather than saying, "I will exercise every other day," try something like, "I intend on taking care of myself and improving the way I treat my body."

Or, instead of, "I will write 1,000 words per day," say, "I intend to put more focus on creative outlets that I enjoy."

When you take away the enforced limits of a specific resolution, you can allow yourself to make incremental steps toward a change or goal. You're able to move within your intention, finding ways to adjust your routine slowly and increasing the chance that you actually develop new habits.

And, it takes away the strain of failure.

If, one day, you don't quite live up to what you were intending, you can try again tomorrow, as humans do.

swagner@aspentimes.com

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