The changing of the year is a great time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. People have been posting highlight reels of 2022, sharing their New Year’s resolutions for 2023, and purchasing fun new journals to organize their new year. Maybe you’ve done some of these things, excited about the prospects of your goals. This post shares the secret to sticking with your 2023 New Year’s resolutions.

Why So Many New Year’s Resolutions Fail

Have you ever been to a gym at 7 AM in January? It’s swarming with people full of motivation for early-morning exercise in the new year. But if you go at the same time one month later, the crowd is a lot smaller. Chances are everyone already let go of their New Year’s resolution to work out in the morning. If you’re this person, welcome to the club! Most of us struggle to stick with our goals.

New Year’s resolutions can motivate you to be better, but they can also have the opposite effect if you don’t keep them: they can make you feel worse about yourself. You’re so upset at your failure that you don’t even try again. That’s because you’re missing the most important element of goal setting: spiritual intentions. In a previous post, we wrote:

“Newsflash: January 1st will not endow us with sudden motivation to exercise, cut sugar, break up with Netflix, volunteer, floss, and give up social media all at once. In fact, when we try to completely transform our lives with unrealistic resolutions, by January 15th we have reverted back to old habits and we feel terrible about ourselves.

“Healthy striving to become better is beneficial, but it's tough to find a balance. We're either beating ourselves up for not being good enough or expecting nothing of ourselves. Plus, how do we even get our goals to stick? It seems that good habits take seconds to break, yet bad habits take months.

“Introducing spirituality to your resolution-making can help you find a good balance. Since your spiritual side is significant to you, letting it shape your resolutions provides a nice framework for meaningful goals. You'll also feel a deeper desire to keep your resolutions.”

Spirituality and Goal Setting

I know what you’re thinking. What does a resolution to travel more, de-clutter your home, or go vegetarian have to do with spirituality? Unless you’re setting purely spiritual goals (such as daily prayer or meditation), it might seem like spirituality is a strange way to approach your goals. The truth is, though, setting spiritual intentions will help you actually stick with your New Year’s resolutions. In Bullet Journaling on the Skylight app, Miriam Stratman shares why she thinks goal setting and planning are spiritual processes:

“I feel closest with God when there's any sort of progression, when I feel like I'm growing in any direction. Even if my goals, one year, aren't around specific notoriously spiritual items, the entire process feels spiritual to me because I know about the progression that I'm making with it.

“I'm a person who has some anxiety and I let myself get very stressed out. And I feel like I've really used bullet journaling and planning to alleviate a lot of that. I sit down depending on my mental state, if I'm feeling overwhelmed or stressed or bored, if one of those things are triggering me, I will sit for an hour and plan out the people I wanna focus on, the things I wanna do. And it does help me become more reflective and meditative about my own life and where I'm at right now, and which direction I wanna take with my life.

“You have to be able to think of something bigger than just you. And if you aren't happy, you can't think outside yourself. And I think that bullet journaling and goal setting make you a better, happier person. Therefore you can affect the world.”

This can be true for you, too, if you introduce spiritual intentions to your New Year’s resolutions. The difference between a goal and an intention is that goals are about doing something and intentions are about feeling something. Now, what exactly are spiritual intentions? They’re the overarching feelings, traits, or qualities you want to develop, and you identify them by connecting to your spiritual core. Your spiritual intentions are branches of your purpose. When you set goals according to your spiritual intentions, everything you do will connect you back to your purpose. For help discovering your life calling, check out our article Finding Your Purpose.

How to Set Spiritual Intentions for Your New Year’s Resolutions

Of course, setting a goal to accomplish a task is important. In fact, it’s tough to fulfill your intentions without measurable goals. But without a spiritual intention behind a goal, it’s easy to lose motivation and forget about it. Approach goal setting by first asking yourself, “How do I want to feel?” For example, if you want to feel strong and grounded, set a goal to learn weightlifting.

But how do you set spiritual intentions? Depending on where you are on your spiritual wellness journey, you might feel anchored in several intentions. But if you’re new to spirituality, it can be difficult to tune in to your spiritual self to find your intention(s). Here is a brief journaling exercise you can do to discover your spiritual intention(s).

  1. Write “How do I want to feel?” at the top of a fresh page.
  2. What words come to mind? Don’t overthink it, just write whatever comes to you—you might have just one word, or several.
  3. Look over your list. What word stands out?
  4. Write a few sentences about why your spirit is drawn to that feeling. Is something lacking in your life? Are you hopeful about this intention? When have you experienced that feeling in the past?
  5. If multiple words stand out, then repeat step 4 with each word.

From here, you can move on to your New Year’s resolutions—your concrete goals. Your goals work to help fulfill your spiritual intentions. Here are some tips for goal setting:

Keep it achievable. Many New Year’s resolutions fail because they are simply too big. Cutting sugar entirely will be nearly impossible if you’re someone who likes dessert every day. Start small, like only eating dessert on certain days of the week. Then once you’ve mastered that, you can adjust the goal.

Practice self-care. Remember this: You are not what you do or don’t accomplish. You have inherent worth as a human being, and that is enough. Failure is a part of life. Don’t let it set you back. Get up and try again, and be kind to yourself when you fail.

Continuing a previous goal is still a goal. Who’s to say that maintaining a good habit isn’t a goal in itself? Maybe last year you started monthly deposits into a savings account. Keep that up this year! You don’t have to increase the amount for the goal to “count”.

Don’t have too many goals. Set yourself up for success by containing your goals, only resolving to do what you realistically can do. Focus on a few at a time; wait to add something new until you’ve made real progress.

Recalibrate often. Pick a regular time to sit down and review your spiritual intentions and goals. Ask yourself if your intentions still resonate with your spiritual core, and if your goals are still pointing you toward your intentions.

Need some help getting started with your 2023 New Year’s resolutions? Head over to the Skylight app to access this intention-setting yoga flow, this monthly bullet journaling tutorial, and this goal setting audio exercise. Keep reading to find some inspiration for sticking with your New Year’s resolutions by getting creative and having fun.

Get Creative with Your New Year’s Resolutions

It seems like a lot of us set the same New Year’s resolutions every year. But in 2023, you don’t have to stick with the common goals, like exercising daily or setting a limit to social media use. Think outside the box to get creative with your New Year’s resolutions. You can focus on things that will make your life more fun and interesting. It might not seem like these things lead to real self-improvement, but when you don’t take yourself too seriously, there’s more room for growth.

This year, resolve to give more generous tips, to experiment with different milks in your morning coffee, to listen to a new album every week. Resolve to call your grandma on Tuesdays, to smile in the mirror each morning, to read an entire book out loud to yourself just because. Resolve to bake five different cookie recipes, to repurpose your old jeans, to budget for a vacation. Resolve to take a daily walk, to shop at the thrift store instead of the mall, to host a dinner party once a month. Resolve to buy your first house plant, to not check your email on weekends, to use eco-friendly laundry detergent. Forget the idea of “self-improvement”, get creative, and try new things.

Your 2023 New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be the same old goals you didn’t achieve last year, or the year before that. They can be anything you want. You don’t have to suffer through them! Start with your spiritual intentions, and then get creative with your goals. You’ll find it easier than ever to stick with your New Year’s resolutions.

Other Related Articles:

Letting Spirituality Influence Your New Year's Resolutions
Be Intentional: Creating Time and Space For God

How to Crush Your Spiritual Goals

Feb 3, 2023

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