chalk board for writing New Year's Resolutions or Intentions

As you ease into the New Year and think about how to change your life, a good question to ask is, “Should I make resolutions or intentions?

You may say, “What’s the difference? That’s just two ways of saying the same thing.”

But what if the difference is more than word choice? It could be that they are opposing mindsets: One that will generally get you to your goals and one that won’t.

In her Psychology Today article, “Ditch Resolutions; Make Intentions Instead,” Diana Raab, Ph.D. says the following:

An intention is a positive call to action about something you want to do, rather than something you don’t want to do but feel that you ‘should’.”

In other words, intentions give wings to what you already want to do. Resolutions attempt to guilt or coerce you into doing things you don’t want to do (Even though your goal might be good in and of itself).

Let’s dig a little deeper on whether you should make resolutions or intentions.

Do You Really Want to Change or Not?

That’s an important question to ask. Is it something you dread the thought of doing but feel you should do anyway? Or, are you ready for a new, improved life?

There’s a saying about change that goes like this:

You don’t change until the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of changing.”

Change is always hard but it’ll only be possible if you’re ready for it. If it’s not the right time, the result will be disappointment.

However, if you’re ready for change, you need only follow your intentions. No guilt trips are necessary at this point.

You’ll still face challenges along the way towards your goals with the intention mentality. But you’ll be able to view the process in a more positive light which leads us to our next point.

Positivity in Your Intentions Will Lead to Success

Following your intentions means leaving behind word choices that limit you. Instead of thinking about all that you’ll have to give up, think about everything you’ll gain by changing.

By focusing on the positives of your change journey, you’ll have the energy, peace and serenity necessary for good things to happen.

Change is very difficult if not impossible while you’re worried to death that you’ll fail. Or when you’re feeding yourself the lie that you’re giving up more in pursuit of your intention than it’s worth.

Focus on the Present and Future Instead of the Past

In order to embrace your intentions, you’ll need to let go of the past. Most peoples’ past experiences are riddled with disappointments, bad decisions and unfulfilled dreams.

It takes a lifetime of learning, growth and empowerment to get where you want to go.

To give your intentions power, you’re going to have to rewrite your script.

Replace self-defeating thoughts like, “I always screw up. I’m just setting myself up for further disappointment.”

Evaluate these negative beliefs about yourself and change them. Own up to your past mistakes but don’t let them define you.

If you let them, mistakes can be a powerful teacher. They don’t exist to make you lose hope and give up. Rather, view mistakes as reminders of the different path you need to take.

As you give strength to your intentions, you’ll gradually watch your life change for the better. It’ll be more than just the external change that many resolutions so often focus on.

Your intentions will go down to the very heart of who you are as a person. You’ll change because of a desire to be the truest form of yourself. Not because you’re a robot who has to mercilessly check off a to-do list.

Are you currently struggling to follow your intentions and change your life for the better? If so, the Valencia Relationship Institute can help you get there.

The new year is a great time for individual or couples’ therapy as you focus on creating positive life changes. Making an appointment with us is quick and easy!