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New Year’s Resolutions Vs. Intentions
January 04, 2024
It’s about that time again. We’re at the start of the year, and there is a lot of talk about fresh starts, new chapters, and of course, New Year’s resolutions. As we know, many of us are not actually able to keep up with our resolutions. So, I spent some time online looking into the usual tradition and came across the practice of setting intentions. In this blog post, I’ll be discussing the difference between New Year’s resolutions and intentions, and hopefully at the end of it you can make a more informed decision about which of these practices you want to go with this year.

The Difference 

If you’re like me, you are most familiar with the tradition of setting resolutions at the start of the year. Many times they have to do with going to the gym, travelling, spending less money, etc. Resolutions are typically a statement/goal pertaining to something you want to change or fix about yourself. Resolutions tend to focus on your shortcomings and keep you stuck on your past self. Most of the time they are strict and don’t offer much flexibility. You either accomplish your specific resolution or you don’t. 

Intentions, however, are more focused on the present. They offer more flexibility, and encourage you to live abundantly. Most importantly, intentions place an emphasis on your values. Rather than keeping you hung up on what you want to change about your past self, you spend more time and energy pouring into your present self and taking steps to becoming more fulfilled.  

How to Set the Intention 

There really isn’t much to setting New Year’s intentions. You can start off by defining your values. These are beliefs and areas of your life you want to enhance. For example, you may find compassion very important. And you also want to start experiencing more fulfillment in your career. Your value is compassion, but you want to use it to enhance your work life.  

Next, you’ll decide where your focus will be. Many times, there are so many areas of your life that you want to enhance, but the only way to effectively accomplish this is by focusing on a few areas at a time. So, although you want to be more compassionate on the job, be more active, and express yourself in creative ways, it’s for the best that you choose to focus on fewer things at a time. That way, you can build those habits and eventually start working on other areas of your life.  

Setting the Intention 

After spending some time defining your values and choosing what you want to focus on, it’s finally time to set your New Year’s intention. Keeping your value at the forefront, you’re going to come up with a sentence that reflects the change you will be working towards in a specific area of your life. Let’s return to the previous example about compassion and career fulfillment. The value is compassion, the desired change is for a sense of fulfillment, and the area of life is your career. With that being established, the sentence can be: “I want to incorporate compassion within my career.” On the other hand, the New Year’s resolution for this intention would probably go something like this: “I will volunteer with my organization twice a quarter.” Although nothing is wrong with this, it may not be as sustainable and open as the intention. 

Your intention allows you to create small goals to help you work towards this change. You can volunteer with your organization, be helpful to your coworkers, donate to organizations your job supports, etc.  There are so many ways for you to fulfill your intention. You are not tied down to a strict goal.  With this specific intention, you would be more focused on the value of compassion, rather than checking off a volunteering engagement for the quarter. You would give yourself the freedom to accomplish fulfillment in your career through various means. 


The New Year is such an exciting time because we truly have the opportunity to turn a new page, explore new aspects of ourselves, and most of all, work towards being a more fulfilled version of ourselves. As we reflect on 2023 and start identifying areas of our lives we want to enhance, let’s remember to be kind and encouraging to ourselves, try new things, keep up good habits, and have fun. Here’s to an amazing 2024.  

By: Madison Beckford