Written by Emma D'Arcy
A new dawn. January 2022. Given our collective experience over the last two years, 2022 is an opportunity to start afresh and set some realistic goals and intentions for the year ahead. Don’t worry if you haven’t set out any yet – it’s never too late to decide on intentions for the coming days, weeks and months. Setting intentions is a brilliant idea – at any time of the year – but it’s also worth figuring out what goals work and are realistic for you.
Setting intentions gives you clear goals to aim towards – at times taking small steps, sometimes major strides and everything in between to get there. It’s really rewarding when you find yourself making progress on the journey along the way, ticking off tasks and milestones. Saving up to visit Australia for the first time in my early twenties, it was incredibly satisfying to finally book that plane ticket knowing how hard I had worked to finally fly to the other side of the world. I still remember glimpsing the palm trees as I touched down in Sydney feeling incredibly excited! Also visualizing how you’ll feel once you have achieved your goal, and working towards it alongside a friend or companion are powerful motivators too. One particularly wet and windy weekend in Wales I didn’t think that my friend and I would manage to reach the peak of Snowdon mountain – but we kept each other going and I can confirm that the euphoric feeling at the summit was well worth the gale-force winds and soggy feet that were quickly forgotten after hot showers and tasty pizzas to celebrate our achievement.
Whilst the start of a new year offers a timely/seasonal opportunity to reflect, recharge and reset for the coming year, it can also be a serious challenge to stick to new goals. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there before – midway through dry January, dreaming of a large glass of Malbec to unwind with after battling the harsh winter elements at the end of a long day – or wishing we hadn’t signed up to that hot yoga studio with classes that begin before dawn when we’re feeling more like hibernating in our pyjamas until late February! Everyone is different when it comes to motivation, so the key is knowing yourself – what works, what doesn’t, what’s smart, and what’s absolutely non-negotiable. I, for example, don’t do well with cutting things out entirely, it only makes me crave wine/cheese all the more, so I no longer attempt a dry January, but simply reduce my alcohol intake so it doesn’t feel so unrealistic. For other friends, going cold turkey is incredibly effective and they feel fantastic once that challenging fitness goal or running time is achieved. Understanding yourself is key for success with any new intention.
But also, as we are beginning to emerge from hibernation into a brand new year with dreams, ambitions and hopes for the year ahead, I think it’s worth acknowledging that so many New Year’s intentions end up completely forgotten about within a few days or weeks. However, the good news is that when it comes to setting intentions you can always start again, and it’s never too late to begin. The beginning of a new day itself offers an opportunity to draw a line in the sand if it’s a bad habit you’re trying to get out of, or you simply need to get started towards a goal that you keep putting off for another day. My intentions will be noted down throughout January, as it takes me some time to think through what I want to achieve, whilst acknowledging what’s truly doable. Plus, I’ll come up with new ideas throughout the year, so I tend to gradually introduce them into my lifestyle, rather than overhaul things overnight, which wouldn’t last five minutes.
It’s entirely up to you when you set yourself new goals or envisage what you want to achieve over the next twelve months (or next seven days if needs be). That course that you’ve been researching online for months and wondering whether to invest in, or even something as simple as setting aside time to learn to cook – finding evenings to try new recipes from that beautiful cookbook you received over Christmas. Maybe it’s shopping more sustainably, or using apps to sell or give away your preloved clothes and accessories. Or even something like calling friends more regularly for catch-ups that have fallen by the wayside with busy work schedules, or practicing a few minutes of yoga each day to keep yourself grounded and away from screens.
Setting intentions can be small adjustments or major changes, the only person you have to commit to is you. So whatever you decide – whether it’s starting a new fitness regime over the next couple of weeks in January, or an intention you find yourself deciding one morning halfway through the year – make that intention something you can achieve realistically, and most importantly, enjoy the journey along the way, making sure to celebrate your achievements when you do!