I’m sharing my Intentions for 2018 today!

New Year's resolutions you'll actually keep! How to make AND KEEP your intentions for a better new year, written by wholesome recipe food blogger Erin Clarke of Well Plated by Erin

Every January, I take a great big gulp of ambition juice. My blood flows with enthusiasm, hope, and a burst of energy that could rival Sunny D in the neon color/sugar department.

I pull out a clean pad of paper, a fancy felt-tip pen (the purchase of which I justified by assuring myself I’d be more likely to complete any tasks that were written in its lovely, smooth ink), and write down my New Year’s resolutions.

While my resolutions change from year to year, they usually look something like this:

  • Do yoga.
  • Take a French class.
  • Learn to salsa.
  • Read the classic novels I missed in high school.
  • Call home every week.
  • Go to bed at 9 p.m.
  • Write snail mail.
  • Save the planet.

All are honorable goals. My completion rate?

Somewhere in the neighborhood of “zero” to “Does wearing yoga pants count as the same thing as doing yoga?”

Maybe you’ve run into similar issues.

Ideas for New Year's Resolutions and Intentions and How to Keep Them

The reoccurring problem with my past resolutions lists is that every single item on them is related to DOING. I am asking myself to magically squeeze more activities into the same 24 hours, without taking anything away.

I tell myself I will cut back on “other things,” but I never really define what those things are. Inevitably, I stretch myself too thin, and at one point or another, I fall short.

This year, I decided to take a different approach to my New Year’s resolutions.

I’m not writing them.

I’m writing down my intentions instead.

The difference between a resolution and an intention might seem frivolous at first glance, but when you look more closely, far more separates them than simply an entry in a thesaurus.

Resolutions are stiff.

  • Resolutions are boxes to be checked, with only one method for doing so.
  • Resolutions look like a to-do list. You either complete a resolution or you don’t.
  • Resolutions are focused on doing.

Intentions are flexible. 

  • Intentions represent my hopes, values, and who I want to be a year from now.
  • Intentions look like a map with many paths that lead to the goal destination.
  • Intentions are focused on my being.

I decided to keep my intentions list to my top four intentions.

How to set New Year's Resolutions you will actually keep, plus a list of attainable goals and actions for a better new year

Yes, FOUR.

I know Top 10 sounds cool and Top 5 at least sounds reasonable, but for the sake of being super seriously focused and dedicated, I decided to stick with just the four most important.

Instead of writing my intentions as a stiff list of to-dos (that approach reminds me of the failed resolutions of prior years), I wrote them as the values and characteristics—the being—that I want to characterize my year.

To make my intentions tangible, below each I wrote out a variety of actions I can take to bring them to life. Some actions might work, while others might not. The beauty of this more flexible approach is that if and when I fall short on one action, that does not mean that I will miss the boat on completing the intention entirely. Rather, it means I need to try a different approach next time.


2018 Intention Number One: Be Present.

Lake Sunset

Ways I Plan to Be Present:

  • Put my phone away during dinner, including dinner at home with Ben.
  • Ask follow-up questions during conversations with friends instead of jumping right in with my own thoughts and opinions (extrovert problems).
  • Respond to text messages in hours instead of days. (I am really the worst with texts. SORRY.)
  • Spend 10 minutes in quiet reflection each morning.
    • I use a guided meditation app called Headspace (LOVE IT and cannot recommend it enough), and I find that when I use it daily, I am more present, focused, and less prone to anxious or worried thoughts all day long.
  • Call friends or family while washing dishes instead of defaulting to turning on the TV.

2018 Intention Number Two: Be Grateful.

Easy ways to practice gratitude

Ways I Plan to Be Grateful:

  • Tell someone I love them at least once per day.
  • Focus on how lucky I am to have a warm home, coat, and sturdy boots instead of how cold it is outside.
  • Pause to say grace or at least offer up a mental “thank you!” before all meals, including breakfast.
  • Start my daily reflection (see “Be Present” above) by expressing gratitude for a new day.
  • Tell Ben thank you for even routine household tasks, such as taking out the garbage.
  • Leave three negative things a day unsaid.
  • Every time I go to the gym or for a run outside, remember how lucky I am to have a strong body instead of what a drag working out can be.
  • Surprise neighbors and friends with dinner or treats even more often as a way to express gratitude for their presence in my life.
  • Leave a thank-you note for the mail carrier.
  • Send an email or even a Facebook message to a former teacher who made a positive impact in my life.
  • Think of one blessing every time I hit a red light.
  • Continue writing my Thankfulness List every Thanksgiving.
  • Leave 5-star reviews for products I enjoy, whether it’s something I ordered from Amazon or a podcast to which I love listening.
  • Donate to causes I believe in more often.

2018 Intention Number Three: Be Rested.

Ways to Get More Sleep - Perfect New Year's Resolution Idea

Ways I Plan to Be Rested:

  • No more computer after 10 p.m. Believe it or not, this is probably one of the most challenging actions on the list. I always want to squeeze in just one more thing before bed.
  • Related: Be IN bed by 10:30.
  • No coffee after 12 p.m. I usually have a small cup for an afternoon pick-me-up, which I am now swapping for tea. So far, so good!
  • Do not look at my phone once I get into bed.
  • Invest in a decent pillow. Any recommendations?
  • Keep a notebook by my bed to quickly jot down any nagging to-dos (or recipe inspiration) that enter my brain and keep me awake.
  • Kill the snooze—research is pretty compelling that it’s a) not helpful and b) can make you more tired.
  • Try apps like this one (free!) that track your sleep and are designed to wake you up when you are in a lighter stage of sleep.
  • Rock a sleeping mask (the one I should order based on reviews; the one I actually want to order; the one that encapsulates all feelings right now).

2018 Intention Number Four: Be Inspired.

Easy ways to be inspired. Tips for finding inspiration and creativity, plus a list of new year's resolutions and intentions

Ways I Plan to Be Inspired:

  • Spend at least one full afternoon each weekend not doing any kind of work, including responding to emails.
  • Cook from my actual cookbooks! Goal: one recipe per month.
  • Take more personal vacation days. I enjoy traveling for work but would love to take more days to completely unplug, phone and email included.
  • Related: Plan above vacation and COMMIT.
  • Find inspiring Instagram accounts to follow, especially in the non-food realm. Any favorites?
  • Regularly change out my computer and phone screensavers and desktops to art or quotes that inspire me. Designlovefest is one of my favorite resources for free graphics.
  • Spend less time obsessing over past actions I cannot change.
  • Eat at more new restaurants instead of continually revisiting the same favorites.
  • Ask people I admire, including and especially friends and members of my family, what inspires THEM.
  • The next time I’m tempted by envy, think about why I admire that person and remember ways that I either am or can be more like them.
  • Listen to podcasts on interesting topics when I’m in the kitchen or driving.
  • Sing in the shower, my car, anywhere, without worrying about who is listening. Seriously. Let loose!

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

  • Does thinking of your 2018 goals as intentions instead of resolutions resonate with you the way it did with me?
  • Am I crazy and this is a glorified list of resolutions with some extra frosting?
  • What’s on your list of intentions for 2018?

Here’s to a happy, inspired, intentional 2018!