I have a theory and it goes a little like this: We’re all beautifully messy, chaotic bundles of energy and intentions wrapped in skin and hair (OK, that sounds a little gross, but you get my drift).
We love new beginnings, fresh starts and clean slates, and celebrate them with fireworks, jewellery, parties and rituals. We intend to do great things and become amazing versions of our current selves somewhere down the line.
We spend the early stages of these new beginnings dreaming, making resolutions, planning and thinking…and thinking some more. And then we might even take that first step and start doing something about getting closer to our dreams.
The first month or two are a frenzy of fresh motivation, sweaty high-fives and new workout tights.
But then month three rolls around and suddenly that motivation wanes. We lose momentum. Something happens that makes us stop believing in ourselves and stop wanting to do the things we know we should be doing, like choosing to not eat a bucket of fried chicken five days in a row, for example.
We regress to the thinking stage. And soon, those thoughts become wishful thinking, never to be acted on, ever again. Until something happens that forces us to re-start where we left off. But only this time, we do it out of fear, not feelings of hope, lightness and the warm fuzzies.
We lose our intentions.
I’ve got to be honest: Mine get lost and go awry every now and then too, especially when it comes to exercising. Every now and then, when I look at that loaded barbell and then the whiteboard, where the day’s WOD (workout of the day in CrossFit-speak) is written, I think to myself: “How on earth am I going to get through this?”
Luckily for me, I have a pretty badass coach who helps me answer that question with this one ingenious piece of advice when he can sense my doubt demon rearing its ugly head: “Set your intention and your body will follow”.
And he’s right. That’s why this powerful reminder works every single time.
My intention isn’t just to get that barbell over my head 24 times in a row. Or to get six-pack abs (although that would be a sweet side effect); it’s to strengthen my body and mind so that I’m better equipped to handle whatever life throws at me (and we both know that those ‘whatevers’ can be pretty big and painful at times). Every time I lift, I give that intention life, energy and momentum.
That’s why I keep doing it.
What are your intentions for the year ahead?
If you’re still at the drawing board with this one, here are five intentions you can start with that will set you up for the year with courage, success and peace of mind. I invite you to intend to…
BE BETTER, NOT PERFECT
Don’t let the myth of having to be perfect before you start stop you from doing anything. Take that first step with what you have and from where you are, and then get better every day. Everyone has to begin somewhere, and that somewhere is never at the top. And let’s face it, working your way up is more fun and rewarding than tumbling downwards.
NOT BE AFRAID TO MAKE MISTAKES
You’re human and all humans make mistakes. But the difference between forever stunted and growth is acknowledging that you’ve messed up, being able to face hard truths, being kind to yourself and a willingness to learn from your mistakes so you can keep moving forward. Denial, conflict avoidance and fake positivity won’t get you very far.
FALL IN LOVE WITH THE JOURNEY, NOT THE OUTCOME
Say you lose 20 pounds, then 40, and then 100 over a year or two. Then what? What did you miss in-between? Did you spend 730 days of your life in a rush, in a blur of chasing after the next goal, never taking the time to experience what’s it’s really like to: Finally enjoy the food you love without being out of control, taking the stairs to your apartment without feeling like you’re going to keel over from exhaustion, or celebrate those little wins that got you to your big win?
GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO PUT YOURSELF FIRST
So many of us put the people in our lives first, but here’s something I want you to think about: Nobody will ever care more about you than you do, because nobody else will ever know you better than you know yourself. It’s human to want to give a big part of yourself to the people you love, but you can’t do that very well without taking care of your well-being, and often, doing that will require you to not put yourself last.
REFRAME YOUR ‘BUT’s
Ever met someone who was full of “but’s”? I have (they drive me crazy). Full disclosure: I used to be one too. And so could you.
“But I don’t know how”.
“But I’m too old”.
“But he’s different”.
“But I’ll wait until next week”.
“But she doesn’t have kids”.
Sound familiar? Well, we’re going to take that broken record and replace it by recording a spanking new MP3. It goes like this: “[action you’re going to take] + deadline”. For example, instead of saying “But I don’t know how”, you say : “I’ll find out how by the end of this week.”
Put this game changer into your vocabulary, and soon, you’ll also be changing your life.
Photo credit: Greg Rakozy