By Kathy Murray – LCSW – Clinical Social Worker – Duke Diet & Fitness Center.
When the holidays end and the New Year arrives, many people are ready and eager to make positive life changes. That desire for change is often channeled into making New Year’s resolutions. But if you want to see big life results, perhaps you should start by making positive intentions instead of New Year’s resolutions.
Making New Year’s resolutions is well-intentioned, but a problematic way to achieve life change. Resolutions are often broken soon after the first month, leaving you feeling defeated and frustrated. Resolutions are very difficult to maintain because they can often come from the “head” and the “should” part of the mind instead of from deeper desires of the heart. For example, resolutions are often focused on outcomes such as, “I will go on a diet and lose 50 pounds in the New Year,” or “I will exercise every day in the New Year and achieve my dream body.” These kinds of resolutions depend entirely on will power to accomplish them. However, research shows that willpower is a limited resource and easily overcome by stress. And everyone experiences stress. That’s why setting positive intentions is a better way to reach your goals.
Positive intentions are not the same thing as making resolutions. Positive intentions use the desires of the heart to motivate toward change. Positive intentions focus on a desired positive outcome, which will result from healthy habits, such as, “I intend to have a stronger, leaner body so I can return to hiking and/or tennis,” or, “I intend to have increased energy and well-being by healthy eating,” or, “I intend to have the energy for some playful activities with my grandchildren in the New Year.” These intentions are accompanied by a strong desire to participate in and enjoy life, which can support our willingness to make difficult behavioral changes.
Intentions are ways we can bring more joy and satisfaction in our lives. They lead the way to a more meaningful life and a happier future. Here are some practices you can do to set and maintain positive intentions:
Our behavioral health experts help you work through emotional issues that may be responsible for your weight gain. We believe your mind is as important as your body when trying to achieve weight loss goals. That’s why we offer sessions with psychologists and behavioral health experts. They help you identify behaviors and emotions that prevent successful weight loss, such as binge eating, self-image, anxiety, and how to manage stress. We help you build confidence and motivation.
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