New Year Resolutions: Setting intentions to help you achieve your health goals
By Arielle Adelman, ACC and Thea Runyan, MPH
If 2020 has taught us anything, learning to be flexible with uncertainty and focusing on the things we can control are key to our physical and mental wellbeing. With the new year fast approaching, you may want to make this year different from other years and consider setting intentions to help you reach your goals.
Let’s start by differentiating between intentions and goals. Setting an intention is about taking action in the present moment and is deeply connected to how you feel and who you want to be. Goals are focused on achieving a specific outcome at a certain point in time. A goal is a future projection about what you want to do and what you want to accomplish.
Setting an intention is a powerful way to move towards your goals. If you have a goal to run a 10k in April, think about how you want to feel when you achieve that goal. Is it that you want to feel stronger and fitter? Do you want to feel less stressed and anxious and you heard running helps? Identifying the true reason why you have set this running goal will create a deeper emotional connection to your goal which will help you build new habits to keep you motivated.
Let’s continue with this running goal as an example for setting an intention. Perhaps your starting goal is to walk/jog for just 10 minutes 3 times a week at lunch time. This quickly turns into 20 minutes 5 days a week because you feel really good when you do it. Over time the physical and mental benefits of daily activity become more important than the running goal by itself. This natural evolution didn’t happen by forcing a goal but by setting a daily intention to get moving because it makes you feel strong, fit and less anxious.
Here are some guidelines for setting an intention to help you reach your goal:
- Define your goal
- I want to be able to run a 10k by April 30.
- Ask yourself, “Why do I want this?”
- I want to be strong and fit.
- Consider what you really want to feel emotionally and physically
- I want to feel healthier and more confident.
- Let go of the outcome and focus on how you feel in the moment
- I don’t have to be able to run a 10k to prove I am healthy and fit. I feel healthy and strong by being active every day.
- Distill it down into a few words
- I want to feel good in my body = Intention
Since intentions come from your heart, they can feel less tangible than goals which tend to be more straightforward and logical. It may help to think about your intentions as your “why” you are doing something and goals are the “what” and “how” you will get there. Both are important, right? Understanding your “why” will keep you motivated and on track to reach your goal. Your Kurbo coach can work with you on creating meaningful intentions as you work toward your personal health and wellness goals. It is from these intentions that you can shift into habits that feel purposeful and meaningful.