We have finally come to the end of another year, a year that disrupted our way of life right at the nuclear level. It’s been a roller coaster of a year, both humbling and eye opening for everyone. The biggest revelation was undoubtedly the fickle nature of life: how things can change drastically, literally, overnight.
I guess at the start of last New Years, you made New Year’s resolutions, with all the plans to drink more water and get up earlier etc. Then life got interrupted, the pandemic hit, and suddenly those resolutions didn’t matter at all. It was about survival. However, you made it and now it’s that time of year again when you take out your notebook or planner and write a long list of resolutions for the coming year.
Here’s an idea. If you didn’t, don’t.
Have you ever wondered why you keep writing those resolutions even though you know you’ll have scrapped them by February? The plain truth is that resolutions don’t work.
But do you know what it does? intentions.
Let’s look at the three main differences between resolutions and intentions, showing us why one is a recipe for a successful year and the other is a setup for failure.
1. They have different connotations
The word resolution comes from the word resolve, which means to find a solution to a problem or “to settle a contentious matter” according to Oxford Languages. You can already see how this would have a negative impact on how you view your life. The act of setting a resolution immediately implies that you are dissatisfied with some aspect of your life and want to change it. Don’t get me wrong, self-improvement is a vital part of becoming the best version of yourself and achieving success. However, we also spend too much time focusing on the problems in our lives and how to fix them, so we forget to look on the bright side of things and be grateful for it.
Where resolutions are corrective, intentions are creative. Intention comes from the word intent, which means to plan or aim at something. Unlike resolutions, setting intentions implies that you are in control of what happens. Intentions are positive in the sense that they do not make you think that there is something inherently wrong with your life as it currently is. Rather, they allow you to identify opportunities for growth, which is a much more positive prospect than trying to plug a hole in your life.
Abstract: Resolutions have negative connotations of correction, while intentions have positive connotations of creation.
2. Tradition vs Purpose
New Year’s resolutions have become more of a tradition in people’s lives than something that has any real meaning. For most people, setting New Year’s resolutions is an important part of New Year’s celebrations. Although it can be fun in the moment, neither the resolutions nor the celebration last very long. Because of this, resolutions can actually become impersonal, with people writing down goals that are connected to their core values, or things or changes that are important. This is one of the reasons gym memberships spike in January: everyone thinks they’re expected to lose weight and get healthier, but only a handful of people can keep it up.
Those who keep the habit have one thing in common: They align their intention to lose weight and get healthier with their overall life purpose. This is exactly what intents are supposed to do. An intention points out what is important to you and your purpose, making it easier for you to live that intention each day. They align with your core beliefs about yourself, your environment, and your experiences, and they work within this unique context to help you achieve your most important goals. That’s why intentions stick around much longer than resolutions.
Summary: Resolutions are mere tradition, so they are short-lived, while intentions align with your core beliefs and life purpose, so they last longer.
3. Rigid vs. Flexible
Have you ever wondered why you feel discouraged when you realize you can’t stick to your resolutions for the year? For many people, this feeling is overwhelming and sets a negative precedent for the rest of the year. The reason for this is that resolutions are inherently rigid in nature. When you set a resolution, it’s almost as if it’s been written in stone and changing it in the middle of the year, let alone at the beginning of the year as in most cases, means you’ve failed. In this way, setting New Year’s resolutions becomes a trap you set for yourself, one that will ruin the rest of your year.
Intentions, on the other hand, are flexible and can change depending on your situation. As 2020 has taught us all, life is not rigid. Things can change in the blink of an eye and you need to make the necessary adjustments quickly to emerge victorious. When you set your intentions, you understand that they are malleable and can be adjusted to suit whatever situation you find yourself in. Because they are aligned with your purpose, intentions also help keep you focused on the right path without restricting yourself to any particular way of life.
Summary: Resolutions are rigid and a set up for failure, while intentions are malleable and can be adapted to suit whatever situation you find yourself in.
As you continue to develop your life, career, and business plans for the coming year, think deeply about what you would like to achieve, where you see yourself in the short and long term, and how you would like to get there. This new year, why doesn’t he try something different? Put aside your list of resolutions and work on setting intentions that resonate with your core values.
What are your thoughts on intentions and resolutions? Leave a comment below and let’s have a chat. If you found this article helpful, be sure to share it with your friends and family, and let’s have a successful New Year!
Here’s to a healthy and successful New Year!