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Ditch the Resolutions, Embrace Intentions: A Gentler Journey to Growth

As we approach the end of 2023, I would like to take a break from our series on stress management and talk about the new year's tradition of proclaiming resolutions.

Every year, millions of us embark on a familiar ritual: crafting New Year's resolutions. We vow to exercise more, eat healthier, and finally learn that language. But by mid-February, when gym memberships gather dust and kale salads sit wilted in the fridge, disillusionment sets in. Why is it so hard to stick to our resolutions?

Perhaps the problem lies not in our commitment, but in the very nature of resolutions. They're often rigid, outcome-focused goals that pit us against ourselves, setting us up for disappointment and self-blame. This year let's consider a gentler approach: setting intentions.

Intentions vs. Resolutions: A Subtle Shift in Mindset

Think of resolutions as destinations, fixed points on a distant horizon. Intentions, on the other hand, are the journey itself. They're less about achieving specific outcomes and more about cultivating qualities, fostering habits, and aligning ourselves with our desired outcomes.

Instead of declaring "I will lose 20 pounds," an intention might be "I will nourish my body with mindful eating." This shift in focus removes the pressure of a specific number and encourages a more holistic approach to health. Here are some key differences between resolutions and intentions:





Outcome-oriented ("I will achieve X")

Process-oriented ("I will cultivate Y")


Specific, often with action verbs ("I will do")

Broad, often positive ("I will be")


Fear-based ("I need to change")

Hope-based ("I want to grow")


Rigid, difficult to adjust

Fluid, adaptable to circumstances

Why Intentions Lead to Lasting Change

The beauty of intentions lies in their power to:

  • Tap into your intrinsic motivation: Intentions connect to your deeper values and aspirations, making them more meaningful and sustainable.

  • Embrace the present moment: They focus on the journey, not just the destination, allowing you to appreciate the small steps and celebrate progress along the way.

  • Foster self-compassion: When setbacks occur, you're less likely to feel like a failure. Instead, you can simply adjust your course and recommit to your intention.

  • Allow for adaptation: Life is unpredictable. Intentions offer the flexibility to navigate challenges and adjust your approach without compromising your overall direction.

Setting Powerful Intentions for the New Year (and beyond!)

Ready to give intentions a try? Here are some tips:

  • Connect with yourself: What matters most to you in life? Let that answer guide your intentions.

  • Keep it positive: Phrase your intentions in the affirmative, focusing on what you want to cultivate or embody.

  • Make it personal: Choose intentions that resonate with you, not what you think you "should" be doing.

  • Break it down: Large goals can feel overwhelming. Break down your intentions into smaller, actionable steps.

  • Embrace the journey: Celebrate every step you take, big or small. Remember, growth is a process, not an event.

By shifting from resolutions to intentions, we can embark on a gentler, more sustainable journey of growth. This year, let's focus on becoming, not just achieving. Let our intentions be the guiding light, illuminating the path toward a more fulfilling and authentic life.

Remember, lasting change begins with a single step. So, set your intentions, one conscious choice at a time, and watch your life blossom in ways you never imagined.

How do you set the tone for the new year?

  • 0%Set an intention(s)

  • 0%Proclaim a resolution(s)

  • 0%Something else

You can vote for more than one answer.

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