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It’s that time of year again. You’ll demand yourself to hit the treadmill six times a week! Only eat chocolate once a month! No money spending in January! New Years’ is the time where you demand drastic changes and set high standards for yourself. The majority of the time, you will not be able to uphold these high demands and feel completely terrible about yourself for not doing so. However, for some reason, time and time again people find themselves at the stroke of midnight making these difficult ‘promises’.

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Every year people go through this same toxic cycle of making New Year’s Resolutions. Continuously putting unneeded pressure and stress. Resolutions are, more or less, a statement of desire to change something you want to fix about yourself or your lifestyle. As a result, these highly specific ‘goals’ tend to inspire negative thoughts about your current situation. It’s highly romanticized to set these resolutions at the beginning of the new year. There’s the tendency to believe a new year is a blank slate and that old habits won’t follow you. However, let’s be realistic and acknowledge what we know to be true about ourselves. If you don’t even enjoy going for a walk around the neighbourhood, how are you going to jump on a treadmill for that hour-long run you just committed yourself to six times a week? It likely won’t end up working out and, in turn, you’ll simply feel terrible about yourself. Thus, let’s begin setting New Year’s intentions and not resolutions.

The purpose of an intention is not to bring focus on what is ‘wrong’ with the way you currently live. Instead, it motivates you to live even better than you have before. Look at what does work in your life and see how you can strengthen habits. An example of an intention is lowering your stress levels. This is a manageable and broad intention. There is space to be able to achieve that intention. To lower stress, you could use less technology or journal. It’s also easy to set each of these into a regular routine such as, not being on your phone an hour before bed or taking time to write out your emotions when feeling overwhelmed.

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Furthermore, intentions don’t only need to be set when the clock strikes midnight. There’s the narrative that you can only ‘turn your life around’ on the first of each year. Apparently, the rest of the 364 days in the year are not good enough to make a change? Quite daunting if you ask me. Imagine if the rest of your life was like that too. New job offer? I’m sorry, it can’t be accepted till January 1st. The decision to get a new puppy? January 1st. Breaking up with your toxic partner? Oh wait, you have to wait 5 more months with their cheating ass till January 1st. Problematic, isn’t it? Life would be a disaster if all new decisions were started on January 1st.

So let me be the first to say, if you want to miraculously make a difference in your life, you can do it TODAY, right NOW and in this MOMENT. You do not need to wait for the turn of a new year to make positive decisions for yourself. You do what you need to do right now and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Who else is going to advocate for greater decisions in your life better than you?

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Tips For Setting Intentions

  1. Choose a broad, manageable goal for an intention rather than something specific and narrow.

  2. Instead, become specific about ways to achieve that intention.

  3. Make a plan on how to incorporate those methods into your daily routine.

  4. Use a journal to make note of your intentions and success as the year continues. By journaling, you not only keep yourself accountable, however, you also see how far you have come throughout the year.

Erica Labriola

Queen's U '21

Erica Labriola is studying English Literature and Psychology at Queen’s University. She loves reading, F.R.I.E.N.D.S, and oat matcha lattes (with extra vanilla).
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