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Creating 2023, Part 2: Setting Intentions (rather than resolutions)

Written by:
Jessica Gowen
December 20, 2022

Do you set New Year’s Resolutions? If so, how successful are you in maintaining the resolutions you set? 

According to discoverhappyhabits.com, the statistics aren’t encouraging. After 1 week, 25% of people have already dropped their resolutions. After a month, about a third of people have given up. And at the 6 month point, roughly half of resolutions have been broken.

Several years ago, I gave up on the idea of setting resolutions. It felt like a cycle of setting a lofty goal – usually around a behavioral change – then falling short of the goal and feeling like I’d failed. Not the most motivating experience. 

I went through a period of deep reflection and growth in 2019, a process that was heightened (and profoundly challenged) by the events of 2020. During that growth period, I was introduced to the concept of future self meditation – a specific meditation practice that involves a deep imagining of yourself and your life at a point far enough out in the future that you can shed some of the constraints of what is in the present. After that experience, I started to use a similar process for my New Year’s reflection process. 

What’s the difference between making a resolution and setting intentions? Resolutions tend to be outcome-focused. Often, resolutions involve starting or stopping something, such as “I’ll start meditating” or “I’ll exercise every day” or “I won’t hit the snooze button anymore.” The result of the resolution is something that can be checked off a list – an external result. 

Intentions are more internally focused. When we set intentions, we consider how we want to feel, or what we want our life to look like. Intentions are focused on the present moment rather than a future habit or action. 

Intentions can apply to your relationships, your health and wellness, your career, your finances … any domain that is important to you.

Whether you are a resolution-setter or not, consider exploring the process outlined below to help you prepare for 2023. By focusing on how you want to feel rather than what you want to achieve, you can avoid being derailed by the inevitable surprises that come with our busy lives. 

Here’s what you need to set your intentions for 2023:

– Paper and pen

– Your 2022 year end review notes from Part 1 of this blog

– 30 minutes of uninterrupted time (no screens, no interruptions)

To identify your intentions, follow these 5 simple steps:

1. Reread your notes from your year-end review

2. After you have reviewed your notes, pick one domain to focus on. (Domains covered in the first segment of this blog included personal, professional, home, family, relationships, health, spirituality, service, learning/personal development, but you can pick your own.)

3. Take 1-5 minutes to reflect on what you’d like that domain of your life to look and feel like in 12 months. If you’d like to dive deeper into the reflection process, consider using a “future self” guided meditation like this one from Tara Brach

4. Using your notes and reflection, write a statement that summarizes your intention for that domain. For example, one of my intentions for 2023 is to continue to cultivate close individual and collective connections with each of my three children. 

5. Repeat this process for each of your life domains. 

Next week, I’ll share Part 3 of this process: identifying habits and behaviors to support your intentions. I’d love to hear about yours!

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.

Jessica Gowen

VP Performance Development
Jessica Gowen leads the performance side of Activcore as Vice President of Performance Development. She works at the Activcore studio in Atlanta, Georgia, located just 2 miles from Emory University. A passionate entrepreneur, Jessica joined Activcore to further develop professionally as an industry leader in the Atlanta area, and to grow her online performance offerings on a national scale. 
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