Why You Should Ditch New Year's Resolutions And Declare An Intention Instead
"Ditch the resolutions. To resolve means to find a solution to a problem. You are not a problem. The way you showed up for your life in the past year was necessary for your growth. Now is a time to reflect. To learn. To create an intention, a positive call to shift, a spark of magic + manifestation rooted in self love and backed with action." - Danielle Doby
How profound is this quote?! I personally found it so profound it forever changed the way I viewed approaching a new year. In my own life as I dive deeper to understand myself and what drives results in my life and business, I came to the conclusion that the whole action of setting resolutions glorifies busyness, something that as this stage of my life I fiercely rebel against.
As I started to change my perspective on resolutions I came to find that this is not a completely new concept. In fact, there has been a growing trend over the last 10 years or so of slowly letting go of the idea of new year’s resolutions and instead adopting a more holistic approach to goal-setting and choosing a “power word” or declaration to set an intention for the upcoming year.
While setting goals is an important process to go through in order to stretch ourselves and grow, the truth is 80% of people abandon their resolutions by February. Not very encouraging is it but let’s dive deeper into why resolutions don’t work and why creating intentions around a word or declaration is much better strategy to start off a new year.
I could write an entire blog post on why resolutions are counterintuitive but to sum it neatly into one sentence, resolutions keep you focused on “doing” rather than on “being”.
Setting resolutions usually goes something like this: lose weight, spend more quality time with family, get closer to God, exercise more, get more organized, make better decisions with spending habits, read more books, focus more on self care.
Seriously?! Big. Fat. Yawn.
I don’t know about you but this type of “To Do List” that sounds more like a chore list of tasks to check off approach to a new year does very little to WOW me anymore.
Here is where things got real for me in how I needed to change my perspective, God did not create me to be a human doing, He created me to be a HUMAN BEING.
The primary reason resolutions don’t work is they only address one level of our lives. The DO level. This way of approaching anything including a new year, is if you DO this, you will HAVE that and then you can reap the rewards to be/feel a certain way.
You know where this leads? To a lot of busyness that leads to very little fulfillment, that leads to a rabbit hole of self-sabotage and unworthiness that can be difficult to climb out of. Most New Year’s Resolutions and the process for setting them never address the being level which is why they are ineffective and fail.
When your focus is first on being, then the doing that leads to results will organically follow and flow more easily. Focus less on a task list and more on how these intentions will change all areas of your life.
Want to lose weight? Be intentional with loving yourself more in who you are in Christ, not what the world defines as beautiful. Be intentional with moving your body in ways you enjoy, nourish your body with real foods because you want to take care of the body God gave you and the weight you want to lose will come off.
Want to have a better marriage? Be intentional to show up as the type of person you wish to see in your spouse.
Want to make more time for self care? Be intentional with a routine because you know that when you take care of you, you can show up to be a better parent, spouse, friend and business owner.
What to draw closer to God? Be intentional with studying God’s word daily. Join a Bible study group or download an app and set the intention to draw closer to Christ because it will lead you to be a better steward to those around you.
Ditch The Resolutions and Instead Declare An Intention
This year I want to challenge you to approach goal setting in a way that honors how you want to be and show up in the world versus a list that measures how much you can do. There are a couple of different ways you can do this, by choosing a “power word” for the year or a statement or declaration and then combining it with a Bible verse. This word or declaration becomes a plea or desire arising from the core of your soul and scripture helps to keep you rooted in the truth of God so the enemy can not derail you with lies.
This approach is way more powerful than resolutions because they act as a guide throughout the year, a daily reminder of the bigger picture and to live your life in a state of being and not a hamster wheel of doing.
How To Choose Your Word/Declaration and Scripture
This is a process you want to pray through and rely on how your life feels in this very moment and less on choosing perfect words or overthinking this too much. If you allow yourself to be open to the process and not resisting it, it should come easily because you are ready to receive what God has for you.
Here are a couple of examples of what this can look like:
Maybe your life right now feels like it is spiraling our of control? A friend of mind shared with me this is exactly how she felt in 2014. She needed something to give because she felt like she was about to break. She was sick and tired of how her life felt like it was running her straight into the ground. She knew for things to change she had to let go of the need to do more and be more, surrendering herself fully to trusting God more. To get out of that vicious cycle she had to focus more on “stillness” so she could hear God’s voice and what came to her was “Be still and let Me”.
She wrote that in her planner, she created a graphic and set it as the wallpaper on her cell phone with the scripture “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10, she intentionally kept that declaration and verse close to be still and trust God more. When she felt herself stressed or her life going where she didn’t want it to, she refocused on this declaration and scripture all year to help her form new habits and routines because change does not happen overnight.
Over the next few days, spend time to really become present with yourself. What is causing you hurt, pain or stress? What is triggering reactions and causing you to show up less than your best self? Does a certain person or conversation trigger negative emotions, make you upset or sad? Write down answers to these questions and how you feel (writing is a process that can’t be skipped so be sure you are journaling during this time).
Do you tend to cling to material things, habits, hoard objects and generally live in chaos and have convinced yourself that “organized chaos” isn’t that bad? Maybe your word is “release” or “simplicity” because you need to deal with fear letting go in all areas of your life. When you catch yourself overwhelmed with clutter or toxic relationships, you can whisper “letting go is good for the soul” to remind yourself why you are craving simplicity in this season of your life and to give yourself permission to do so.
On really hard days you can meditate on God’s word as a reminder of the value of simplicity Psalm 119:130 “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple". When we read and rely on God’s truth, it gives us light and the more we understand the more we want to obey and the more light we are given. The simplicity that is found in the Bible imparts understanding. The gospel is simple and the simplicity of the message of Christ is beautiful helping us to see how beautiful our own lives can be when we let go of how we think our lives should be to instead focus on the simple blessings we experience everyday and the work God is doing on our behalf.
Those are examples of how a word or declaration is combined with scripture to create an intention for the year.
I will be continuing this discussion over the next several weeks over on my Facebook fan page so be sure to connect with me there. I would love to hear your thoughts on ditching resolutions once and for all and opting to set intentions and what you have come up with!
Kendra Dahlstrom is a Christian Business Strategy & Life Coach, Master Trainer and Speaker who helps women of Faith discover, fully live into, and transform their God-given Calling into a profitable legacy. She decided to start her own Faith-based coaching business so she could slowly transition from the corporate world to live a life that she loves - sharing her passion for Jesus Christ with others by serving them to discover and fulfill their Calling through her signature Live Into Your Calling Study Course
Kendra has over ten years of leadership development experience and five years experience leading workshops, seminars, and trainings thousands of corporate employees. She uses Life Coaching techniques through the lens of the Bible to help her clients live their Calling to Him the way he envisioned (Ephesians 4:1) as they create a powerful partnership with Him to create a business that prospers (Galatians 6:9).
When Kendra isn't on a video conference or the phone with a client, she can be found playing with her children outside, in a fitness class, or quietly reflecting on the Word alone or with her women's bible study group.