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Welcome 2024: Good Riddance, Resolutions. Hello, Intentions.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2024

Words matter, and there’s no better place to see that than in the nuances of a word like “resolution.” Like many words, time has given rise to a new meaning for the word we often hear around the new year.

​The word ‘resolution’ is arguably a joke now. That’s because it has come to symbolize lofty, restrictive, impossible goals. The average person will give up on theirs within the first month. Many people set a New Year’s resolution but never actually intend on following through with it in the first place.


Trading Resolutions For Intentions

Resolutions have become synonymous with wishful thinking. They don’t lead to a lifestyle change. That’s why we should eliminate the idea and focus on intentions instead.

​Let’s look at what makes intentions different from resolutions. In addition, we’ll discuss how to stop making resolutions and start setting (and achieving) intentions.


Intentions Vs. Resolutions

What’s in an intention as opposed to a resolution? An intention is driven by core values, creating an achievable path.

On the other hand, resolutions are specific and measurable goals. Resolutions and goals can feel empty and stifling. They often start from a place of guilt or comparison, which is the wrong way to affect positive change.

​For example, setting an intention to eat healthy because you value your health differs from declaring to lose 20 pounds before summer. Resolutions like this set the outcome without allowing freedom to curiously explore the multitude of options aligning with the core value.


The First Time You Fall Short

Let’s say you resolve to spend one hour of pure, distraction-free quality time with your kids and life partner daily. What happens when real-life scenarios kick in?

Let’s look at a typical sequence of events: You and your spouse work 8-to-5 jobs while your kids attend school. You pick them up from their after-school program around 5:00. Then, it’s off to extracurricular activities or homework. You’ll cook, eat, and clean up from dinner. Maybe your kids will do more school work, or you will all start your bedtime routines. You go to bed without spending an hour of quality time with the family.

How do you feel? Dejected? Like a failure? The worst way to try to reach a goal is to beat yourself up when you fall short.

​You aren’t the problem. Resolutions are restrictive and unyielding.


Why Intentions Have Better Outcomes

Intentions focus on core values and desires. You don’t have to hit a daily benchmark or count the hours you spend quality time with your family. That’s because…

  • Intentions Are A Percentage Game. Every small step towards your value is progress. Any lack of forward momentum isn’t a step in the wrong direction and doesn’t detract from your achievement.
  • Intentions don’t rely on timelines or measurements. They serve as the wide pathway for how you want to live. The resolution might be to get rid of the junk food in your house, but the intention or core value behind that is that you value your health.

If you have an off day (and you will), you’re less likely to beat yourself up and abandon your resolution just because you didn’t tick the box on a self-imposed checklist. And beating yourself up over a slip is the wrong way to motivate yourself to continue striving.


How to Connect With Your Intentions

We’re so accustomed to goal-setting strategies that finding the intention behind the goal might take some time and practice. Here are six steps to help you set value-focused intentions rather than measure-based goals:


1. Write Down What Brings You Joy To Discover Your Core Values

Consider everything you enjoy doing and determine the driving force behind those. For example, if you love reading, listening to historical podcasts, and taking courses at your local community college, the underlying value is growth and education.


2. Pick One

Narrow down your list to five values. Then, pick the one (that’s right, one) you want to focus on the most. Maybe it’s the value you’ve neglected for too long or the one you want to continue developing.


3. Summarize Your Intentions In A Sentence Or Two

This summary should feel right and not cringy (remember, words matter). You want it short enough to post on a sticky note. And on that note, put your sentence on a sticky note on your bathroom mirror as a daily reminder. Turn it into a mantra – a blurb–on repeat in your mind.


4. Enlist The Help Of An Accountability Partner

Don’t set an intention in silence. Let at least one person you grant authority to know about it. Their job will be to check in on your progress regularly.


5. Avoid Controlling The Path Or Outcome

If you approach your intention with force or obsessiveness, your result won’t be as good as the one that flows naturally. Focus on the value and not on a specific outcome or route to get there.


6. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Growth and change are challenging. Expect growing pains from the side of you who wants to keep the status quo and the one who desires change (even others will challenge your transformation). Remember that obstacles don’t knock us off the path; they are part of it.


Mindful Engagement

Better decisions come from aligning our actions with our hearts and core values. Taking time to listen to what our hearts tell us amidst the hustle and bustle of life is challenging.

​It helps to mindfully and regularly engage with others on similar journeys. Seek out like-minded social groups or clubs to continue renewing your focus. Read self-improvement books and join a book club to gain powerful insights and motivational quotes for successfully piloting an intention-focused journey.





When it comes to making a change, intentions are based on personal values and provide direction, while resolutions are specific but may lack meaning. We have become so accustomed to goal-setting strategies that it may take some time and practice to identify the intention behind the goal. Discover how to set intentions that align with your values instead of measurement-based goals in this infographic.

6 Intention Setting Hacks Infographic


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