Why Setting Intentions Are Better Than Making New Year's Resolutions


Most of us are used to hearing about and/or creating "resolutions", goals for ourselves, for the new year. We have renounced this practice in our lives because most often, we forget them less than halfway into the year or do not achieve them. Today we are going to talk about why setting intentions for your year may benefit you more and be more rewarding.


In my experiences, resolutions were byproducts of things that I didn't feel good about and felt like I "should" change or fix about myself. In my adolescent years, I was more quiet than I am now and I remember feeling bad about it because I thought being quiet wasn't cool and that I should be more loud and outgoing. For many years one of my resolutions was to be more bold and outgoing and each year it never happened. Becoming loud and uber outgoing didn't authentic to me. That resolution felt like what I "should" be and not what I wanted to be. Looking back now, what I really wanted were environments and activities that were of interest to me and I would have naturally felt at ease and outgoing in. Two of my passions, that still are, were writing and stationary; I probably would have been outgoing in an environment surrounded by fellow writing and stationary geeks like me.

Goals are very results driven; you're allowed to feel good once you've accomplished them.

Resolutions are often looked at as having or setting goals. Goals are things that we desire and we often give ourselves a plan of action and a set time to accomplish them by. Intentions are things that we desire without an attachment to how they will come about in our lives or when we want or need to have them by; they can also have deadlines but they are much more fluid. Intentions also focus more on how you want to feel as opposed to what you want to have. Our baseline state is to feel good so intentions usually involve a feeling that feels good to us. Goals are very results driven; you're allowed to feel good once you've accomplished them. "No pain, no gain". "You have to make sacrifices to get what you want." This is how most feel about goals, that it isn't fun getting there but you will have fun once you're there.

I'm more aware in my own life that goals often cause self induced more pressure to complete them or else I feel as if I'm bad at following through on things. My focus begins to be more on what happens if I DON'T achieve them in time. This then takes me down the rabbit hole of imagining what will happen AFTER I haven't achieved the goal and what will happen after that! Yes, I have a tendency to overthink things sometimes and goal setting just exacerbates it. I become more concerned with the end result and what if things go wrong preventing me from getting that end result. I become attached to the results and everything else be damned. If you are like this, it creates a self imposed state of anxiety; it's not fun. It's not about the journey to the goal, it's about how fast one can skip to the results. This is also why I was notorious for never finishing projects or even starting them because I was too focused on the end to even start!

I have come to see that setting intentions can be more effective for those that goal setting isn't helpful for because when I focus more on what I want to feel first, then the desired result or thing I wanted comes about faster and in a better way than I may have restricted myself to getting it with a goal. Intentions open you up to all the possibilities and possibly ways to get what you want. Goals often (but not always) place limitations by focusing on a limited amount of ways you can get what you want.

Let's provide some examples to get into this concept that may be new to you. Keza has a goal for being debt free by December of 2016. When most set goals, they create a hard deadline and a plan of action on how they will achieve that goal. These goals we're often told will be uncomfortable but that it's part of the process. In order for Keza to meet the goal of debt free by December of this year, she calculated that she needs to put $400 per month to the debt. Within this plan, most go on to devise how they will get this money to throw at the debt each month. Keza decides that she will employ a strict budget and cut out all extra expenses outside of her living expenses like brunch every Sunday, no fun cash and no Brazilian waxes once a month to free up this extra $400 up. Now if you're a very disciplined person, you put your blinders on and get to it. More often than not, some perceived set backs like an unplanned expense come into the picture and almost totally derail her confidence and her follow through. In this case, Keza may become very resentful and start to hate such a tight budget because she feels like all she is doing is paying bills and having no fun and no money. Keza may then say screw it and go off the budget because she wants to enjoy her life. November comes and the debt is nowhere near gone. She's upset now because her goal wasn't met and tells herself how hard and impossible it was to stick to that goal anyway. Now this may not affect some the same way that it affected Keza. It would just be another goal that didn't get completed but for some, it becomes a breeding ground for discouragement or giving up altogether.

 Intentions allow you to feel how you want to feel when you achieve what you want RIGHT NOW.

Let's transform Keza's goal into an intention. She takes her desire of being debt free and identifies what feeling she wants from being debt free. She wants out of debt because she wants to FEEL in control [of her finances] and [financial] freedom. Right now she feels like she's not in control of her finances, at the mercy of lenders and like she could be doing more fun and productive things with the money she gives each month to debt repayment. Keza chooses to set an intention of financial freedom. Keza still does a budget but in this instance, she just greatly reduces money in the fun pot and doesn't set a hard deadline. Sunday brunch with friends is reduced to once a month instead of every Sunday and she gets a latte once a week instead of everyday. This allows her throw $300 at her debt instead of the $400 in the other scenario. She feels good about the decisions she made to free up $300 per month and is empowered knowing she can make some temporary adjustments to her lifestyle for her financial freedom and still feel good and enjoy herself. Keza goes on to read books and articles and listen to podcasts on financial freedom and ways to generate passive income for herself. Soon, she finds a way to get extra money passively to throw even more at her debt each month and becomes financially free sooner than she thought she would be.

Even though Keza has an intention, there were still inspired steps she needed to take. The steps she took felt good to her and came from a place of abundance and not lack and resentment or loathing. Intentions allow you to feel how you want to feel when you achieve what you want RIGHT NOW. They allow you to feel good during the whole journey to what you want. With a goal, you most often delay feeling good until it's completed because you've told yourself or others have told you that "it will be hard" or not fun getting there.  When you feel good and are having fun, the desired result has a way of coming faster sometimes and often times in more a amazing way than you could have ever imagined.

The Teachings of Joshua Round Table has a wonderful podcast they recorded recently on the difference between setting goals and setting intentions. You can check it out HERE. It really resonated with me and maybe it will with you too. It's an hour long and worth listening to. I love listening to podcasts while traveling, cleaning, cooking or, if you are a New Yorker, on my train commutes to and from work.

Are you more of a goal setter or intention setter?

Milan is a New York City based, creative writer and the founder of AGrlCanMAC. She's a self proclaimed accessories junkie who's passionate about healthy living, adventure, books, crystals, the Law of Attraction and arts & crafts. AGrlCanMAC is a resource for women of color all over the world who want to look good, radiate good and feel good at the same damn time.

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