Trading New Year’s Resolutions for New’s Year’s Intentions

Posted on December 31st, 2013 by in Healthy Living

newyearNew Year’s is a time when we reflect on our goals for the year ahead—better health, losing weight, a new job, travel, or finding a relationship.

But change is hard. It requires a real commitment, planning, and follow-through.

A 2007 research study by psychologist Richard Wiseman found that 88% of people fail to achieve their New Year’s resolutions. The reason: Setting and reaching goals isn’t strictly about self-discipline or willpower; it’s about intention and finding pleasure in pursuing what matters to you.

In fact, Wiseman’s research found that humans have a fairly limited reserve of willpower, so trying to change more than one thing at a time tends to be overwhelming for most of us.


Kripalu Lead Nutritionist Annie B. Kay, MS, RDN, LDN, RYT, recommends that this year, instead of setting a resolution, you could try setting an intention. You might get better results.

The first step is to clarify that intention. Ask yourself what you want to cultivate in your life.

Let’s taking the example of losing weight, one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. Instead of telling yourself, “I want to lose 10 pounds,” your intention might be “I want to have a healthier relationship with my weight.”

Annie says that, while the first approach is about sacrifice and depends on self-control, the second is based on acceptance. Yes, you still have to put in the work, but it’s coming from a very different mental place.

Try visualizing your intention. Imagine what that better relationship with your weight would feel and look like. How would it show up in your life?


The next step is to develop an affirmation to help realize that intention. Affirmations are clear, positive statements, in the present tense, that encapsulate what you want to create. Write them down, be succinct, and repeat them out loud. Here are some examples:

Intention: “I want to be able to digest my food more easily.”

Affirmation: “I digest my life with ease.”

Intention: “I want to be more in the moment.”

Affirmation: “I am fully present to what life brings.”

What are your New Year’s intentions?


About Jennifer Mattson

Jennifer is a journalist, writer, yogini, and kirtan junkie. A former volunteer resident at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, she’s a former broadcast news producer for CNN and National Public Radio. Her reporting and writing have appeared in The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, USA Today and the Women’s Review of Books.

4 Responses to “Trading New Year’s Resolutions for New’s Year’s Intentions”

  1. Anna Belle Wood December 31, 2013 11:28 am #

    We can increase the power of our affirmations by making them process statements. For instance, “I am learning to live with ease” may ring more true in our heads and hearts than “I live my life with ease” and, thus, be all the more empowering…

    Many blessings to all in the new year!

    • Jennifer Mattson
      Jennifer December 31, 2013 12:19 pm #

      Great point, Happy New Year, Anna! -Jennifer Mattson, Writer

  2. wildnwonderful December 31, 2013 11:53 am #

    Yes, change is hard, It does require self-control, patience, new routines and commitment. However the results of the change when done with self-control, new routines and very concrete steps , if made with good judgment, are very concrete and positive. Intentions can become like arrows shot into the sky with no target and little aiming. I think we can be discerning about what resolutions -clear hard definite- things we will do and what are broad targets we are hoping to shot for.

  3. Jennifer Mattson
    Jennifer December 31, 2013 12:44 pm #

    Thanks wildnwonderful, I agree, change IS hard and I appreciate your point about using good judgment and being concrete about one’s end goals while remaining positive. -Jennifer Mattson, Writer

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