• Ellen Shilling

Why New Years resolutions don't work!

This was part of a newsletter I sent out recently. If you would like to receive these monthly ezines, you can sign up via the link below (you'll also receive a free mindfulness practice)

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Why they don't work:

Winter is a time for reflection, slowing down, resting, restoring and replenishing our mind, body and spirit. We're generally pretty knackered at this time of year hence the timing of Christmas isn't ideal and lots of people get sick over the festive period. We've passed the winter solstice so we are gaining more light but it's only 1 extra minute of sunshine a day, so this slow increase in means that we are invited to slowly move out of our own hibernation and into busyness again. This period lasts about a month until we get to Imbolc (feb 2nd)

Reason #1 - we generally don't have the energy to sustain them!

What do you do instead? Spend some time reflecting on the year past and then set 1 or 2 intentions for the year ahead. I'm going to share a part of what we covered at the recent intentions and reflections workshop with you so grab a piece of paper and a pen and just keep scrolling!


Before we move on, we must reflect. So put the brakes on and create some space to look back on 2018. If we want to change our lives reflection is so important, after all, how can we learn and grow if we don't look back. When reflecting we have to be conscious of two things: Number one and most important is that we reflect with the eyes of compassion, there's no point looking back on the past year full of judgement and criticism around what we didn't achieve. Number two is to only include the last few months - we often judge our years based on what happened in the last quarter and forget all the events, gifts and challenges of earlier in the year.

Therefore the questions we ask are very important so I've selected a handful of the questions that we used in the workshop. Spend some time writing the answers to each one.

  • Name 3 great things that happened this past year.

  • What were the three most challenging things that happened?

  • What was biggest thing you learned this past year?

  • What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?

  • What was the best way you used your time this past year?

  • Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.

Intention setting

Now with all this awareness from 2018, we spend a few moments (or days) setting intentions. Sometimes you'll find them very quickly, sometimes they need to percolate for a while!

Let me tell you for a moment why resolutions generally don't work.They are:

Reason's # 2, 3, 4 & 5...

  • Specific

  • Rigid & hard

  • Often outside of our control.

  • Not inspiring

  • Or what we actually want (aligned)

For example: "I'm going to go to the gym 3 times a week."

What happens when life gets in the way or your tired and you only go twice? Have you failed or believe that you have? Is it really what you want or what you feel you SHOULD want?

Compare this to an intention: Intentions are less about what you do and how you show up. They are:

  • Positive

  • Possible,

  • Aligned & genuine

  • Flexible

  • and what we really really want (just like the song!)

For example: “I’m going to cultivate a positive relationship with my body”

So many options and choices about HOW that happens. This fills me with hope and optimism, the goal above fills me with pressure and heaviness and suddenly....well I really DON'T WANT to go to the gym!

Intentions for YOUR life: Think about the segments and the challenges that are coming up for you this year. Areas such as:

  • Health

  • Wealth

  • Family & friends

  • Significant Relationship (including yourself)

  • Play, hobbies, fun,

  • Work

How would you like to meet these challenges? With grace and ease? With bravery and dignity?

Here's some examples of intentions:

To approach life with openness and eagerness To live a balanced life

To cultivate presence To meet new challenges with grace and ease To say yes to everything To let the word no be a full sentence To explore new opportunities that flow my way To live in the here and now.

You might find one or two here, you can search on google to find some more, or make up your own! Whatever avenue you choose, when you look at your intentions make sure they fill you will inspiration, lightness and even a sense of excitement!

What do you do then?

Write them out and have them somewhere you see. Put them on your bathroom mirror, in your car, on your bedside table, and every few months, move them around so you see them again.

Then? Take action! Yep, we still need to do something towards the manifestation of what we want, but the action will be intuitive, feel lighter and be more inspiring that goal driven action.

When you're finished with your intentions you'll know and you can set new ones, using this format if you wish.

Wishing you a wonderful new beginning. I hope that 2019 brings you all that you wish for.


Upcoming classes and events - for more info click here

Next 8 week Mindfulness course begins Monday 14th Jan. Classes at 10am or 7pm

6 Week Meditation course begins Tuesday 15th Jan. Classes at 10am

6 Week Compassion Course begins Wednesday 16th Jan Classes at 7pm

#saynotoresolutions #whyresolutionsdontwork #intentionsnotgoals


get in touch

7 Carysfort Avenue,


Dublin, Ireland 

Eircode - A94 K6Y5

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