New Year’s intentions

Happy New Year, friends! Allow me to introduce you to a brief, yet quite potentially potent reframe. First, some numbers…

According to (and yes, that name does make me chuckle):

  • Their 2022 survey revealed only 23% planned on making New Year’s resolutions.
  • The most popular resolutions for 2022 were living healthier (23%), personal improvement and happiness (21%), and losing weight (20%).
  • Being healthier is consistently the most popular New Year’s resolution. Saving money is the next most consistently popular resolution.
  • On average, only 9-12% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions.
  • In comparison, of those people who have similar goals but do not set a resolution, only 4% are still successful after 6 months.

Hence, the reframe…

Obviously, if we set a resolution, there’s something we want to do; we wouldn’t be setting it if we didn’t look favorably upon the perceived end result. The hard part, therefore, isn’t the setting; it’s the actual doing. To reframe then means to pose something differently, to look at things a different way. So let’s start with the word embedded in all of the above, “resolution.” It means:

res·o·lu·tion  | ˌrezəˈlo͞oSH(ə)n |   noun

     — a firm decision to do or not to do something 

     — the quality of being determined or resolute

A New Year’s resolution is something we’ve articulated that we are determined to do — no matter how “SMART” — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely — the ambition may be.

But what if we could take the pressure off a bit? … making the goal a little more potentially achievable? … less shameful or stressful, so-to-speak?

What if we reframed the resolution as an intention? Meaning:

in·ten·tion  | inˈten(t)SH(ə)n |   noun 

     — a thing intended; an aim or plan

Friends, I’m not attempting to lessen the ambition of any. I am also a big believer in SMART goals in the professional world. But for the personal, noting the data, my desire is simply to encourage increased success. There’s a reason so many of us quit so soon into what may originally be the most valiant attempt.

Note the insight of Robin Lanehurst, M.Ed. in an op-ed for Psychology Today, discussing intentions vs. resolutions:

“The main difference between intentions and resolutions is in their breadth and specificity. While resolutions tend to be singular things you can check off on your to-do list or track — ‘I’m going to drink more water’ or ‘I’m going to spend more quality time with my kids on the weekends’ — intentions are more broad — ‘I’m focusing on my health’; ‘I’m prioritizing my family’; or even ‘health’ and ‘family.’ Intentions can encompass multiple areas of your life, rather than zoom in on one piece, like resolutions. For example, you may set the intention to be more creative, which can apply to your work, your spirituality, your family, and your relationships, but a resolution to take on a new creative project at work only applies to one setting.”

In other words, as Lanehurst insightfully continues: 

  • Intentions, unlike resolutions, are more broad and encompass multiple areas of life.
  • Intentions give us the room to discover what really works for us, discovering habits we really enjoy. 
  • Intentions help us prioritize our time in ways that better reflect our values.
  • Intentions help to guide actions from a gentle, compassionate place — as opposed to a more rigid place of enforcement.
  • And, when we reflect on our intentions and share them with others, it helps us to ground ourselves and stick with it.

Sticking with it… that’s the goal. And as we stick with it, we grow.

Time to be intentional, friends. A blessed new year to you and yours…