Have you been thinking about your New Year’s resolutions?

Many people consider the New Year to be a fresh start and the perfect time to recommit to a healthier, more fulfilled lifestyle. One problem with resolutions is that they often come from a place of self-judgment (I am overweight, I watch too much TV, I should get a better job, etc.) rather than from a place of self-love. Resolutions can also be difficult to keep, have unrealistic goals and set you up for feeling like a failure.

True, sustainable change comes from within. Often, when we make a resolution, we are only addressing exterior changes or habits instead of looking deeper to find the limiting beliefs, unmet needs or negative thought patterns that create the unhealthy behaviors we seek to change.

You may find that for a couple of months you do follow through with your resolutions, but then slowly slide back into old habits. This is because you have not identified or shifted the root cause of the unwanted behavior!

This year, before you make those resolutions, consider the following questions:

1. Why do I want to change this part of my life?
2. What difference would it make if I set this intention?
3. What has been keeping me in this old pattern or behavior? What do I get out of it? Everything we do, including negative behaviors, has a pay-off.
4. What do I need in order to really make this work? How can I make this goal more reasonable?
5. Which of my strengths or skills can I use to be successful? Who else can help me?
6. What is the most loving, positive way I can frame my intention?

Choose intentions that make you feel positive, hopeful and empowered. Make sure they are also realistic and that you actually believe them. You are not going to get very far with a resolution that you doubt. For example: If “this year I am going to make a million dollars” feels possible for you, then go for it. But if you are trying to convince yourself, chose something more reasonable! Instead, try “this year I will increase my income by at least 20%.” And then make a list of ways to achieve that goal.

Be very mindful of your language. Losing weight is the most common New Year’s goal. But remember, anything you lose must later be found! Instead, focus on your goal. I will reach my healthy weight of 145 pounds is much more affirming! Then consider all of the lifestyle changes that it will take to reach this goal, including self-acceptance. You have to start with loving yourself, right as you are today.

And use language that is positive. Instead of saying what you don’t want to do: I won’t yell at my kids anymore, say what you will do: I will speak to my children with respect and leave the room when I cannot. Spend some time understanding what you need in order to have the patience to live this intention every day.

While the New Year is a great time to recommit to your best life, remember that each moment you have a choice with every action and thought, all year long. If in a few months you find yourself losing ground with your goals, just start over. There’s no reason to wait until 2010!