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More Intentional New Year’s Resolutions: Making Promises that Stick

By Martha Michael

New Year’s Resolutions

When Father Time turns the page, many people choose a New Year’s resolution that barely lasts through the first chapter. If you’re haunted by last year’s yo-yo dieting or the revolving door of broken promises, why not set an intention this year instead of a resolution? The difference may be mostly semantics but setting an intention can help you make changes that have a more permanent impact on your health.

Size Leading to Success

Resolutions and intentions involve contrasting styles, according to an article by the AARP. Creating a New Year’s resolution involves goal setting, whereas deciding on an intention is more like choosing a path on your journey.

A resolution tends to last for a fixed term and typically involves smaller goals, such as exercising more or eating less. Intentions tend to be more of a permanent development that comes from deep personal exploration. They’re broader in scope, ranging from being more charitable to becoming a happier person.

You’re more likely to view your efforts as successful when you set an intention because its emphasis on the journey means you get a feeling of achievement in the process of an evolving transformation. By contrast, resolutions have an endgame where success or failure can be measured, as in pounds lost or dollars earned.

New Year’s resolutions don’t always set you up for failure, of course. If you’d rather set specific goals you’re more likely to succeed if you develop a plan of action, says Peter Gollwitzer, professor of psychology at New York University.

"Specifying the ‘how’ of reaching your goals makes people more likely to get started on time, stay on track in the face of distractions, and persist until the goal is attained,” Gollwitzer wrote in an email. “And this is true for all kinds of goals, more abstract ones such as New Year's resolutions (I want to become more physically active!) or more concrete ones (I want to go running at least once a week!)."

Healthy Choices

Whichever form of New Year’s goal-setting you choose, generate ideas that fit your unique needs and consider a combination of the two styles to offer you a greater chance of success. With the features of a stereotypical resolution -- namely, a desired behavior -- and the focus on process you get with an intention, you can develop a list of sustainable decisions promoting personal growth this year.

Healthline has an article with a list of changes that promote wellness and can easily be continued all year. When you leave out the win-lose proposition of most New Year’s resolutions, such as a time limit to reach a narrow, measurable goal, there’s a greater ability to meet and maintain them.

Improve your sleep - Because a good night’s sleep offers a mental reset as well as physical rest, it’s hard to overstate its importance. There are new products and processes for improving sleep patterns which you can access online or through a consultation with your chiropractor. Some of the best-known solutions to poor sleep quality involve diet, caffeine consumption, consistent bedtimes, and monitoring light.

Find new forms of exercise - There’s a much greater chance you’ll sustain a new fitness program if you like what you’re doing. Experiment with sports such as pickleball or simple forms of exercise such as jogging that you can combine with other pursuits from meditation to audible books. Set up a manageable pace so you can sustain it.

Eat at home more often - People who cook more and eat out less have lower levels of body fat. A study by the National Institutes of Health found that adults who eat a minimum of five home-cooked meals per week were 28 percent less likely to be overweight than individuals who ate their own cooking three times or more per week.

Reduce your screen time - In addition to the fact that it’s a sedentary activity, spending time watching TV or scrolling through your phone or other devices can dampen your mood and make you less productive. By occupying your time, it reduces your access to exercise, and overuse has also been linked to loneliness, depression and anxiety.

Use healthier products - Watching what you eat is a good idea, but the products you use can also affect your health. By researching such factors as environmental responsibility and the use of pesticides or preservatives in household cleaners, detergents, and beauty products, you can support companies that contribute to your family’s health and the global community as well.

Keep up with medical care - If you don’t already have regular visits to your chiropractor, you can get them scheduled for the entire year in minutes. It’s an easy way to set up preventative care as well as treat and monitor any physical issues you’re already battling. Get blood work done and necessary screenings to keep your health record updated.

Like many decisions, making shifts in your lifestyle is rarely a one-and-done proposition. The benefits you receive have a cumulative effect which makes it more important that you sustain them for as long as possible. By intentionally setting broad, sustainable resolutions this year, it’s more likely that when the page turns on 2022 you won’t close the book on healthy changes.

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