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5 Tips for Setting Sustainable New Year’s Intentions

By Megan Faletra, MS, MPH, RDN | 

Every New Year, there's a lot of talk and pressure that circulates among friends and family, as well as in the media about what this year’s “New Year’s Resolutions” will be. The New Year represents a fresh start for so many people with endless possibilities, but unfortunately, these endless possibilities usually come with restrictive resolutions that many times are unattainable. You don't wake up on New Year’s Day and magically become a new person with entirely new habits. Your vices, stresses, busy life and challenges all come with you into the New Year, but so do all the wonderful things that make you who you are! It’s also important to remember when you are feeling overwhelmed by the pressure of a New Year, that your body could care less whether it's January 1st or December 1st. Instead, what it cares about is that you are paying attention to what it is telling you and that you're being intentional with the practices in your life that are either positively or negatively affecting it.

This brings us to why your focus should be aimed at setting New Year’s intentions NOT resolutions, which will support a sustainable, healthy body and mind in the New Year. But, before we get into how to set intentions, let’s examine the difference between an intention and a resolution, and why we are all for replacing those New Year’s resolutions with intentions this year.

Intention: (n) a mental state that represents a commitment to carrying out an action or actions in the future.

Resolution: (n) a firm decision to do or not do something.

Catch the difference? A resolution is rooted in a black and white decision to do or not do something, which leaves very little room for...well…life! On the other hand, at the root of every intention there is a mental commitment toward a specific action. Intentions have the ability to grow and shift with you, and can also be the fuel and guidance you need to form clarity about your life.

So are you ready to turn your resolutions into intentions? Here are five tips to help you get started in creating powerful, positive intentions this New Year:

1. Think Positively

At the root of every intention is something positive. Think about a goal you have and then begin to re-think how you can positively reframe that goal to create a strong, powerful intention. For instance, if your goal is to reduce your stress levels this year, you could phrase your intention as: “I intend to quiet my mind and body each day by focusing on my breathing and inviting peace into my life.”

2. Think Sustainably

It’s important to not only set realistic intentions, but also to set intentions for shorter time frames. The most sustainable intentions are those that can grow and evolve with you. So, look three months ahead and set an intention for the next three months. The beauty of an intention is that it represents a process and can be revisited often.

3. Write it Down

Now that you have identified what it is you wish to focus on this year, write down your goals. Next, identify if any of your goals are connected (some of them most likely will be), and begin to reframe these goals into positive intentions. For instance, say two of your goals are to lose weight and eat healthy. Eating healthy will directly affect your weight loss, however, eating healthy is very abstract. Instead, frame your intention as "I intend to fill my days with colorful fruits and vegetables that nourish my body." In a few months, reflect on how you are doing with this intention and notice if you still have the same weight-related concerns.

4. Take Time to Reflect on Your Intentions

Many of us fail at achieving the changes we wish for ourselves because we set wonderful intentions, but do not consistently reflect on them. Our minds require constant reminding, so it’s important to take a few moments each week to reflect on our intentions and see if any need to change.

5. Practice Kindness

Not every day is filled with rainbows and sunshine, so it’s important to practice extra kindness on the days that don't necessarily go our way. That's what’s so great about creating intentions; they are routed in positivity, meaning they will always be there to support you whenever you need them.

These five simple tips will help get you started in creating your own intentions, and will positively propel you into the New Year from a place of love for yourself and the amazing things you’re capable of achieving.

Interested in learning more ways to nourish your mind and body in positive ways? Start small with simple superfood recipes. Click here for some of our favorites!