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Setting Intentions for the New Year

How Intentions May be Better than Resolutions

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Updated December 28, 2012
This year, instead of making a New Year’s Resolution that you’ll probably break, why not set some intentions and follow through on them.

Most of us are taught that the way to happiness and success is to set goals and work towards achieving them. Oftentimes setting goals is about some perceived lack of something, that we don’t have enough money, or aren’t successful enough at our jobs or don’t have a happy relationship. Setting and achieving goals can be a good thing, but happiness comes when you appreciate what you have.

Resolution vs Intention

A resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something. Many times when you set a resolution, you know it will be broken at some point. Setting an intention means you are not limiting yourself to a certain outcome or action. By setting an intention you are opening yourself up to the possibilities of what you can do, achieve and have. It’s bigger and more encompassing than a resolution. For example let’s say that you really want to meet a girlfriend this year. A New Year’s resolution might be, “I’m going to sign up for a dating service and go out on three dates every month.” Setting an intention would go more like this: “This year I’m going to be happy with myself and my relationships. I’m going to meet quality people and have lots of love and happiness in my life.”

See the difference? The intention opens yourself up to all of the possibilities. You might meet a girlfriend or not, but you’re going to be happy with your life no matter what happens. It’s about appreciating what you have, and at the same time welcoming more into your life.

When you set intentions, you don’t just look ahead to what you want. You take an inventory of your life and appreciate what you have already. You give yourself credit for everything you’ve accomplished thus far and you don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet a certain goal.

Or let’s say your resolution is to make a certain amount of money or to get out of debt. You can take steps toward increasing your earnings and paying off your credit cards and you might even accomplish it and that’s a great thing. Setting an intention is about more than just getting debt-free, it’s about achieving the feeling you want to have when you are no longer tied down to credit card bills and debt you can’t pay. So setting an intention might go like “I have enough money to cover all of my expenses and I enjoy everything I want in life.” Let’s face it, no amount of money is going to make you happy. People with lots of money are unhappy and people with very little are happy. The key is learning to live within your means and appreciating what you DO have.

Maybe your resolution is to lose 10 lbs. You can go on a diet and exercise and lose that 10 pounds. But will you keep it off? Will you continue to exercise and eat well? Rather than set your goal to lose a certain amount of weight, set an intention that your body will be healthy and strong and you’ll feel good about yourself. If you have an illness or physical disability, focus on the things you can do and appreciate those.

Resolutions are more about outside things, but intentions are about your inner self. When setting your goals this year, think about not just what you want to accomplish, but why you want to and how you will feel when you achieve this goal.

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