I am usually a fan of new year’s resolutions or goals. I love the chance to re-evaluate, reset and refocus, and January always feels like a great time to do that: not only because it’s the beginning of a new year but because my birthday falls on the 3rd of the month, so I always feel a little reflective around this time.
However, following the year that was 2020, the same old approach to resolutions didn’t feel quite right for 2021. The things I wanted to achieve with my year in 2020 wildly changed from what they had started out as at the beginning of the year. Travel goals became obsolete, whilst other things took greater priority in my life. How can you accurately plan for the year ahead when we have no idea what the next 12 months might bring? Of course, this is always the case, but I’ve never felt it quite as acutely as I do right now.
What can I achieve in one year?
I was fortunate that I managed to achieve way more than I had ever anticipated I would in 2020, in terms of personal goals. It seemed strange, then, that I might try to set new resolutions, based on normal parameters, that might become outdated or unachievable depending on how the ‘situation’ does or doesn’t change. Similarly, I wonder if typical resolution setting does more to hold me back from what I could actually seek to achieve if I put my mind to it. Surely it would make more sense to reassess my goals on a frequent basis, taking into consideration what I have already achieved up to that point, or what I might like to focus my attention on at that particular time?
I enjoy setting, and working towards goals so I didn’t want to abandon the enthusiasm and drive that comes from challenging yourself, but I wanted to give myself the freedom to grow these goals within the year, whilst staying focussed on overarching ‘themes’ of things I’d like to pursue. That’s when it hit me: monthly intentions!
Setting realistic, measurable monthly intentions
Rather than setting a list of 5 – 10 goals at the start of the year, as I usually do, I have decided that at the beginning of each month I will sit down with my new planner and work out what I would like to do and achieve that month. I will keep it to 3 – 5 key intentions and they will be measurable, realistic and actionable. They can be fun, experience-based things such as cooking 3 new recipes or going for a local beach swim (travel restrictions allowing, of course) or they can be more challenging activities including completing a workout schedule or writing the first draft of a short story.
I’m hoping that, by setting intentions for each month, I can be more practical with the time I put into them, but also more optimistic about what I can achieve throughout the year. I hope that it will allow me to break down my bigger personal life goals into manageable chunks, so that I can recognise, plan for and take the intermediate steps necessary to achieve them. For example, I would love to get an article, essay or short story published in print this year. Therefore, I would set an intention to have written the first draft of a story by the end of the month. Then I could plan to finish the editing process by the end of the next month. The following month could then see me research potential publications or submit my work. Who knows, if I manage to achieve that by the middle of the year, then perhaps I could update or expand that goal?
By focusing on monthly intentions rather than yearly resolutions in 2021, I am committing to giving myself the space to regularly review whether my goals are working for me and to think about the actions I need to take to make them happen, step by step. I’m hoping that the monthly intention setting session will keep me enthusiastic about what I’m doing (particularly writing!) and give me positive things to focus on throughout the year.
Have you set new year’s resolutions or are you choosing something different for 2021?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on new year’s resolutions. Do you think they’re useful or too much pressure? Would you find monthly intentions more beneficial? Let me know in the comments!