Say Goodbye to Resolutions and Hello to Intentions

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I used to be all about resolutions. I even used to make excuses in November and December for poor choices knowing that a new year was coming up and I could resolve it all away! But for the past couple of years, I have been taking a new approach to the whole resolutions thing.

What’s the difference between a resolution and an intention?

A resolution focuses on a problem; it is a decision to stop doing something or start doing something. An intention is your purpose and a commitment to living toward that purpose.

What’s an example?

You may set a resolution to start working out more and eating healthier in the new year. The resolution is made from a headspace that says ‘I don’t work out enough’ or ‘I don’t eat healthy enough’. Resolutions start from a place of judgement, judgement that you don’t do enough of one thing or maybe too much of another thing.

Intentions on the other hand start by asking yourself what you really want in life. If one of your intentions is to live a healthy lifestyle, then you commit yourself to that purpose. Intentions ask us to make choices from our purpose. ‘Does this choice match my purpose?’ The intention gives you more space (or more room for messing up!) than a resolution. If your resolution is to go to the gym 4X per week and you miss a day, you can feel defeated and may give up on the resolution all together. However, if your intention is to live a healthy lifestyle and you miss going to the gym one day, than you just go for a walk later or eat more vegetables and fruit that day. It avoids the all or nothing mindset that ‘Well, I already messed up, I might as well just give up all together and make it worse by eating a large fry and cheeseburger!’ mentality. The intention is easier on the self, more forgiving.

How do I start?

The first step is to think or meditate on what you really want. What would really make you happy? Is it a healthier lifestyle? A more peaceful life? A more passionate approach? After you have come up with whatever it is you truly want—and trust me, what you want will change from season to season and that is completely fine.

So let’s say you came up with ‘I want a more peaceful life’. Start by saying the following to yourself: “I am peaceful”. Try to come back to this statement in your everyday life and remember this statement when making choices. Maybe it means saying no to people or experiences that don’t bring you peace or that tempt you from acting in ways that go against your intention. And most of all don’t beat yourself up for slip-ups along the way. There is no end goal when you wake up or a magic POOF! you are 100% peaceful. Everyday will be different. But each little choice and action that you take towards your intention will help you fulfill that purpose.

Other ways to help solidify that intention:

  • Write down your intention.

  • Share your intention with others.

  • Journal and reflect about your intention on a daily or weekly basis.

  • Make a list of people or experiences that help you meet your intention and those that do not.

  • Don’t doubt yourself and refuse to be influenced by other people’s doubts or criticisms.