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

New 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 percent 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 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 take 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?

Find out about programs with Annie B. Kay at Kripalu.

© Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. All rights reserved. To request permission to reprint, please e-mail