Resolutions Might be Crap. How About Yearly Intentions Instead?

I love the clean slate that comes with the new year. Usually during one of the earlier weeks of January, I teach my DBT group around the theme of resolutions.

One of our DBT Emotion Regulation skills is Accumlate Positives in the Long Term. The skill is from the reducing vulnerability to emotion mine sub-section of the module. It is all about tying long-term goals in to our values and using our values as guide post to help us stay on the path to behaviors that will help us actually reach those goals.

There are several steps to this process including: identifying the prompting value,clearly labeling and defining your goals, brainstorming & creating a list of necessary action steps, choosing an action step to begin with, and then avoiding avoiding and actually doing the behaviors of your life worth living. Plus evaluation and problem solving along the way.

In January of 2014 when I taught this class one of my favorite clients ever told me that resolutions were CRAP.

It wasn’t often that my prepared lesson plan landed so poorly, so that moment I stayed with me.

She was absolutely right. Truth is resolutions are crap. Today is January 17- if you started a typical New Year’s resolution to lose weight or quit smoking on January 1 you’ve likely given up on it by now.

No shame we just know the the average resolution doesn’t make it past the two week mark.

One of the reasons why many resolutions fail is the cognitive distortion of “should statements”. We set resolutions for the things we think we should do for the person we think we should be. But if we were really that invested, we’d be able to achieve those goals instead of giving up on him in such a short period of time.

And let’s be real usually those shoulds are more closely tied to someone else’s opinion over our own.

In recent years I’ve pivoted my approach. I do something more aligned with the practice picker up in the yoga studio. I ask each client to choose a value, a single word, a phrase or mantra that will be the guiding post for this year.

To act as their lighthouse (or drishti in yoga terms). A sturdy place in the chaos of modern life, to come back to and ground on the days when it feels like everything is spinning.

For myself this year the word is contentment. It presented itself to me in December. It is clear that it is the state I am supposed to focus my actions, thoughts and beliefs on this year.

Some of the themes that came up for members of my group – joy, buoyancy, to stay when the urge is to run, authenticity, deconstruction.

All Big concepts. All based in values and clear pictures of the desired presentation of self on 2022!

So while it may be too late to set a resolution, it’s never too late to set an intention.

Intention setting can be a yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, hourly, or even a minute by minute / second by second process. Our intentions ground us and guide us. They help us make deliberate choices in a reactive world.

What’s your guiding phrase for 2022?

If you’re looking to gain better control of your emotions and are interested in DBT Coaching check out my services at Jamie Schmidt LPC

Published by Jamie Schmidt, LPC

Just a human being on a journey of self discovery. Psychology + Spirit + Healing

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