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Why this year I'm going to set an Intention instead of making Resolutions

Updated on January 2, 2016
HealthbyMartha profile image

I'm a Certified Health Coach who wants to help you create the best balance of spiritual, physical and mental health that is possible.

Resolution vs Intention....more than semantics

It's a brand new year and of course this means that the world is rife with people declaring their resolutions for the year ahead! And, if I'm being honest until the past few years, I've been right there along with the rest of the planet in making a few key resolutions myself. Now, I have learned that setting an intention...or two..is more in keeping with what I want to achieve.

At first blush these words may seem synonymous thus why even digress at all? Let's break these words down. A resolution is something that is made from one's resolve. To have resolve is to have acknowledged that something is not working the way you want and so you are resolved to making it better. The very word resolution implies something broken or unfinished.

Intention is more about an aim, a goal or an ideal. There is nothing broken to fix and nothing necessarily unfinished. Rather, one can make an intention to simply feel something, create something or let something come to be.

The point isn't so much in the words but in the attachment, positive or negative, that goes along with each word. I have learned that in order to have our intentions be successful we need to keep them positive. We are much more able to see success when we have a positive spin on our intention.

For example, one could say "I do not intend to be broke all year!", or they could say "I have a clear intention of being financially solvent". Both sentences are saying the same thing, but the first sentence hooks our inner being with the word not! That word might as well be the intention because our brain doesn't get the whole thought of not intending something, but only the negative. When instead we focus on the positive of being financially solvent, there is nothing negative being stated.

It is said that what we focus on with intention we manifest. So, if we want to manifest positive energy and outcomes in our lives, we must put positive intentions into the universe.

Look at the example of losing weight. One could make a resolution to go on a diet and lose 10 pounds. This could then be set into strategies of increased exercise and a change in the diet being eaten. But, it also is subtly stating that the body as it is now is not good enough and must be changed. Even on this subtle, unspoken note it can be perceived as a negative situation and can possibly derail success.

What if instead you set an Intention to create a healthier body for the coming year. This does not suggest that there is anything wrong with your present body, but that you desire to be even healthier over the new year. It builds into it a positive energy in that the goal is only on being better, not on "fixing" anything.

Let's look further at how we might achieve change for the better by setting an intention or two in the coming year.

The New Year's "Resolutionaries"

Several years ago I belonged to a health club. I belonged for over fifteen years and over that time frame came to know well the craziness of the New Year and the "Resolutionaries" that would follow. I coined the term when year after year the month of January and much of February would see a dramatic uptick in Gym memberships making the place quite over crowded for we regulars. Suddenly the people were lining up for each piece of equipment and wait times doubled and tripled to use any of the cardio equipment; the aerobic classes were full to over flowing and it made for a less than pleasant atmosphere to get one's workout on.

But, over the years I knew that I only had to be patient for a few weeks as in that time frame most of those "resolutionaries" would have fallen by the wayside and the gym would regain it's former status. It was so predictable and I would guess that upwards of 75% of the increased gym going population would all but disappear year after year.

It's not hard to understand that people want things to be better, but they aren't always prepared to do the work! And I am human and right there with you! I would love it if I could simply wish to drop a few pounds, lose a few inches around the middle and increase my upper body strength without ever lifting a finger. But, we all know that anything worth having is worth working for. So, why the big drop off rate after such a short time?

I think that much of the problem is in the resolution vs the intention. If one has a resolve to change only at the start of a new year, or before an important life event, rather than an intention to make a change that is lasting a life time, they are less likely to be successful in the long term. It's that need to see ourselves first as flawed to make the resolution that get's us stuck from long term success.

But, if you instead were to make an Intention that you will be a healthier person in the coming year, you have a wide open slate and a positive intention. Nowhere in this intention is any negative feeling about your body today; only a clear desire to make it even better.

And I reference setting Intentions not only to change your body or your financial profile, but a bit more ephemeral and encompassing. Let's look further at how we might set some positive Intentions for ourselves in the coming year.


Intention Setting

Recently on Facebook, there was a quiz and it would analyze your profile and give you your "word for the year". Prior to seeing this quiz I had been reflecting about just this subject.

I belong to a group of people who are healers in one capacity or another and many of the ladies in the group choose a word for the year. This word is like an Intention in that it set's the stage for what is hoped for and desired in the coming year ahead.

Last year my word was Gratitude. And I made a Gratitude Jar which I would take small slips of paper that I wrote something I was grateful for and added to the jar. Sometimes I made four entries in one day; sometimes only four in one month. The idea was that the more I expressed my gratitude, the more I found I had to be grateful for. Now, I have not decided I no longer need to focus on Gratitude! Contrary, I have just made a new jar for the coming year and have already placed two entries. But, I want to keep that intention alive while focusing on a new one.

My original choice was to focus on Abundance. I love that word as it allows for abundance in every possible area! An abundance of love, warmth, money, friendship, peace.....you get the idea. Then I did the little quiz on Facebook and it gave me the word Joy. I really love that too! I could truly use more joy in my life and by choosing this word as an intention, I'm taking control of it! I don't assume that my life will be more joyful because I chose a word, but I have every faith that by focusing my intention on the concept of Joy in my life that it will manifest! It is a proven phenomenon and one I'm more than ready to bank on!

So, for the year 2016 my co-Intentions are for Joy and Abundance. I sat with this for a few days as the old year made it's way out and allowed the new year to come in. It has felt more and more resonant and right for me! I already can feel the shift as I allow my heart to be open to joy and abundance!

Just yesterday I was feeling a bit blue with the let down after all the holiday busy-ness and just feeling quite tired. I was thinking about my neighbors who met each other living in their own apartments and now they are moving in together into a new apartment! I was thinking about how excited they both must be to be moving and to be starting a relationship together. Then I felt a bit sad and sorry that I did not have something like this to look forward to. That thought had barely been completed in the circuit of my brain before a new thought took over. That was the epiphany that if what my neighbors are going through is appealing to me, then I can make it happen for me!

I do not need to be sad and lonely that I am not moving forward in a relationship but rather I can make an intention to be open to meeting new people that I might create a relationship and build something with another. It's not that just thinking in this way will magically present me with a new relationship! Rather it's allowing me to be in a frame of mind with an open heart that makes it possible to meet new people. It's a process of opening our hearts and our minds and allowing what we want to be drawn in. We can suddenly see the possibilities when we open our minds just a bit.

If you are interested in setting Intentions you won't be sorry. I would only caution you to be patient and to be mindful. Our minds are tricky and it can take a lot of repetition to unlearn negative ways of thinking and to create a more positive thought process. But the more you actively think in a positive manner, the more you will start to shift and the positive changes will beget even more positive change.

One trick of mine is to spend a bit of time first thing in the morning in silence. I think of it as meditative and prayerful. While sitting with my eyes closed, I try to clear my mind and breathe deeply. I then send out thoughts of gratitude for all that is good in my life. I will send out prayers for all those I know who are in need of something and then I will focus on my day ahead. I'll think about what I want to accomplish and set an Intention for my day. My intention in the basic sense is simply all that I wish to see finished by the days end, and in the larger sense it's about the way I want to feel for the day.

This practice has been very beneficial in calming my anxiety and helping me be productive. It also reinforces the Larger intentions of gratitude, joy and abundance. In this way, my intentions stay alive and in my consciousness.

Also, when I am having a particularly bad day or moment, I will take a bit of time to stop what I'm doing and get quiet. I can close my eyes and take some deep breaths and ask myself what the source of my discomfort is? In doing this you will almost always find what has you feeling upset. Even if you don't, you can basically reboot in this way. Even five minutes of focused, deep breathing can clear the cobwebs and help you start fresh and let go of any negative energy that is bogging you down.

Whether you choose to set an Intention or if you still want to make Resolutions for the coming year, just come from a positive mindset. If you can remain positive you are more than half way in creating the life you want.

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    • HealthbyMartha profile image
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      Martha Montour 21 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Dr Rangan. Here's to a happy new year.

    • Dr Pran Rangan profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 21 months ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      A wonderful hub for the new year 2016.

      It is so common to see the rising attendance of new members in the gyms in the new year, which soon starts declining.

      Your idea of Gratitude Jar really impressed me.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • HealthbyMartha profile image
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      Martha Montour 21 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Jody, as always for reading and for engaging in discussion!

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      Jody 21 months ago

      Well written. I like how you pointed out that Intentions are positive while resolutions are about implying a negative item that needs repair. If we can focus on positive, joy and happiness all the others will naturally work out. As you said, it is an attitude and mindset. Thank you

    • HealthbyMartha profile image
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      Martha Montour 21 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Bill, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. I too wonder about the sudden need to make changes based on the calendar! I also agree about intention's being more of an attitude that is always present, vs a specific goal.

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      Bill 21 months ago

      Wonderfully thought provoking! Your observation about the resolutionaries at the gym is so true.

      I like the concept of intentions vs. resolutions because intentions give some leeway and, therefore, are more likely to lead to success. Too often, we resolve to do something that in fact is not realistic for us to achieve. The negative outcome can tint our self-image or our attitudes toward the life we lead.

      I have also wondered why people are so prone to focus on making important goal changes only with the start of a new year. If we believe we should loose 20 pounds, we must have noticed that before December 31st. Intention planning should be a constant in our lives regardless of the any calendar reference.

      I believe your approach will, in the end, lead to you experiencing much more joy in your life. Perhaps it is more an approach of simply having a positive mental attitude and a determination in all that you are doing rather than just having a defined intention. The ultimate trick is to take affirmative actions rather than to simply thinking about what we want to happen.