Making Distinctions: Resolutions and Intentions for the New Year

by Jennifer Dodge

Making New Year’s resolutions is a time-honored tradition, because entering a new year is all about new beginnings.  We spend time reviewing the past year, and hopefully gain awareness about our victories and challenges.  We resolve to make changes in our lives as a natural consequence of that self-reflection. However, despite our best intentions, we often fail to follow our resolutions through to completion.  Why? 

Resolve: A resolution is a decision to make a commitment to a particular outcome. Alone, that is not sufficient to reach that outcome. There are other important factors needed to reach your goal. There needs to be something meaningful behind the resolve. 

Intention:  Intentions relate to your vision of your ideal life and provide clarity and purpose.  Intention is the underlying wellspring that provides the basis needed for growing toward your goals.  They are the directives of your soul; the sparks that burn inside you. An example of an intention, might be “I intend to live a healthier life,” or “I intend to improve the environment.”

Motivation:  Motivation is the fuel needed to light the spark of intention; it is the driving force behind intention. It is essential that your resolution supports something that is deeply meaningful to you. How important is your resolution to your heart? How does it serve your greatest good, or the greatest good of others?  Do you have a family history of health conditions that could be prevented by making healthier choices? Perhaps your motivation for improving the environment is that you want to see your children live in a better world. 

Goals: Now that that you have found the purpose and meaning behind your intention, setting specific goals about how you want to fulfill your resolution will be helpful.  Which path do you plan to take? What are the changes that will help you live a healthier life, or improve the environment? Set clear, specific goals, that are broken down into small, attainable segments. 

Accountability:  Did you do what you said you were going to do?  Many of us find it difficult to hold ourselves accountable.  We find it easier to break promises we’ve made to ourselves, than to break promises we’ve made to others. Your chances of success will be much higher if you share your goal with a friend or life coach, who can provide accountability.

Reward yourself for a job well-done along the way. Practice self-care and self-love.  Don’t fall into negative self-talk if you don’t reach your goal. Perhaps your goals need revision, or perhaps they are just not in alignment with the vision you have.  Revisit your intention. Reassess, and choose a different path if the one you are on is not fulfilling your resolution.  Whatever you do, don’t forget to celebrate your successes!

May your next year bring you much joy and fulfillment!

Schedule a session with me if you are looking for support and guidance navigating life’s challenges, or if you’d like help setting clear intentions or want to improve your quality of life and sense of wellbeing. 


Photo Credit: Joanne Delabruere