Set Intentions to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Last
Dr. Brenda Trudell, DC

New Year’s is fast approaching, along with the stress of creating resolutions that may never be kept.  Nearly 50% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions, but only 15% of those are kept.  Scholars believe that resolutions for the New Year began around 4000 BC, when people would pay off debts and return borrowed items.  Later, Romans would start the New Year by assessing the past year, and then vow to accomplish more in the upcoming year.

For many, the same resolutions appear year after year, never getting accomplished. The stress of wanting to make major life changes and not knowing where to start usually deters people from following through on their promises. The most common ones involve losing weight, smoking, money, and stress.

The key to making a resolution stick may not be the actual resolution itself, but the mindset of approaching the process. Resolution is defined as determination, a firmness of mind or purpose.  It’s black and white you either quit smoking or you don’t.  But a new way to approach it is to set the intention.  Intention is defined as “to have in mind a purpose or plan, to direct the mind, or an aim or objective”.  More gray than black and white, and a blueprint to get there. When we lack intention, we stray without meaning or direction.

To set an intention, you need to define it, write it down, set it up to happen, eliminate obstacles or find ways around them, identify steps to take, and then release it. Write positive affirmations to yourself to keep focused and motivated.

An important part of setting your intention is realistic goal setting. Long-range goals can be overwhelming because you feel like you will never reach them. Large goals should be broken into 12 mini-goals so milestones can be celebrated each month. Examine each day, and decide how much time you need to dedicate and when to fit it in. Create a detailed plan, including a calendar of when you want to accomplish things by. If you’re not sure how to accomplish it, ask someone with expertise in that area for help.

The first step is to begin where you are, as obvious as it sounds.  Many people start dreaming about the future, or angry that they are not already farther along. Appreciate and accept where you are now, and the fact that you are taking steps toward progress.  This alone will eliminate some stress from the process.

Use specific terms instead of vague ideas, so you know exactly when something has been accomplished. Saying “I want to lose weight” is vague, but “I will lose 10 lbs by Feb 1st” is specific. Find substitutes or alternatives to behaviors you want to fix. If you eat unhealthy food because you think it tastes better, then take a cooking class focused on healthy but great tasting recipes so you have something to replace the bad food with. Start with one or two goals at the most so you don’t get overwhelmed. Many people find that once they change habits to meet their goal that many other habits also change anyway.

Once you have created your goal, the next step is to visualize it.  Vision is the ability to see something so clearly in your mind that you can manifest it in physical reality. Thoughts become things, so constantly fill your mind with positive images. A lack of vision is the main reason people don’t follow through on resolutions.

To harness your vision, you need to follow a few steps. Imagine how the new change will fit into your life. How will you feel? What will your life look like? Give your vision power by writing it down, telling others, making a collage with magazine pictures and words.  Visualize yourself with your accomplishment.  Imagine life after the goal.  You need to be able to see yourself achieving it in order to accomplish it. See it like a movie in your head, and replay the moment you achieve your goal over and over.

It’s impossible to predict everything, so it’s important to have a plan for roadblocks. Knowing how to deal with things ahead of time, like a table full of your favorite treats or an injury that prevents you from exercising, will keep you on track. Reminding yourself that you may not be in charge of all events but that you are in control with how you choose to react is crucial.  Staying calm will keep you from making irrational decisions that could sabotage your accomplishments.

Remind yourself that life is ongoing and this is a journey, not just a destination. It’s the experience along the way that will change you more than reaching the finish line.

To help stay on track, surround yourself with people who are trying to make positive changes too. Nothing is worse than someone who doesn’t care about what you accomplish, or tries to prevent you from reaching your goals. This person could be on the internet, or working out with you everyday. Give each other positive feedback when you reach milestones, and support when you struggle.

One idea is to get together and each brings 12 self-addressed, stamped, blank postcards. On each postcard, write a reminder, positive affirmation or a recap of your goals. Swap the cards with your buddy, and each month mail a card to your friend. A pleasant reminder in your own handwriting is a nice way to give you a jolt each month. Maybe you forgot your goals, or how important they were to you in January. Add an encouraging note and tell yourself how proud you are.

Most importantly, remember to reward yourself along the way when you reach your goals.  It doesn’t have to be big expensive things, and it is probably better if it’s not food. Making major life changes, especially health changes, may cause unpleasant sensations or withdrawal symptoms, particularly when detoxing. A new exercise program may cause sore muscles.  Treat your body to bodywork like lymphatic massage, chiropractic, acupuncture or reiki.  Yoga, meditation, and stretching are also beneficial. Footbaths, saunas and detox programs can also help release toxins and help reprogram your body. An entire day at a spa to pamper yourself is great motivation to get where you need to be, and a great reward once you get there.

Staying positive, creating goals, having a vision, and celebrating milestones will help make 2012 the year that resolutions become accomplishments instead just words on a paper.

Dr. Brenda Trudell is a chiropractor and owner of New Beginnings Chiropractic in Mount Horeb. She also practices at two other locations in Madison and Sauk City. The clinics focus on natural health, especially for women, pregnancy and children through chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, reiki, nutrition and more. For more information, visit or email at