Set New Year's intentions, not resolutions

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Instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I’ve committed myself to Daily Intentions. Rather than making a long list of most-likely unachievable goals once a year, I believe I’m more effective by setting an intention every day, whether it be big or small. 

Resolution versus Intention 

First, let’s define the terms “resolution” and “intention.”

Oxford Languages defines a resolution as a firm decision. An intention is an aim, plan, or goal.

Can you feel the difference? A resolution is stuck in stone, final, unchanging. It doesn’t leave room for error.

An intention is something to aim for. It leaves room for adjustment and course correction. It’s breathable. Intentions are still goals, but they’re more flexible–like life.

Daily Intentions

I meditate every morning for fifteen to twenty minutes. Whether I’m “good” at it isn’t important, having quiet time with myself is. It’s time to slow down and catch my thoughts, and a space to set positive intentions for the day. 

I aim for one or perhaps two smaller goals a day, not a huge world-changing To Do list like I’ve done in the past with New Year’s resolutions. They can be something simple like, “I’ll clean the kitchen” or a little more involved like, “I’ll do my best to stop and breathe before I react to something” (like Santa Fe drivers who sometimes drive ten – or twenty! – miles under the speed limit…).

How to Set Intentions

How to set intentions is actually quite simple. The hardest part is remembering to set them and keeping them in mind. This is my method:


There are no “good” or “bad” meditations. If my mind’s really active, I just go with my thoughts. If I’m calmer, I’ll try to sink into the space between the thoughts. What matters is sitting with yourself. I wrote an earlier article called “Meditation” if you want to learn more about the process.

Set resolutions not intentions for New Years 2024

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I do a body scan at the beginning of each meditation. I visualize a golden light above me that showers down and goes through my body, cleaning out anything stuck from the day before. 

Okay, my routine is much more elaborate and involves balls of fire and fiery swords, spinning pyramids, dancing with abandon with my guardian spirits, and basking in the love of millions of bodhisattvas and benevolent beings from all the universes as they cheer me on – but that’s not important for this. Though I highly recommend developing some kind of morning visualization that showers you in love and joy.

The key is scanning your body. What are you feeling? Is anything stuck anywhere? Are you cranky, upset, angry, fearful, etc, about anything? Where is it in your body? Is there a shape, color, sensation?

Did you know your emotions and feelings come before your thoughts? Whatever happens is simply what takes place. It’s not good or bad. How you react to the event or thing is based on past experiences. Your thoughts are your mind’s way of trying to make sense of whatever happened. When you sit with yourself and go into your body, you’ll realize the feelings stem from the past, often from childhood. More on that in a future piece.

When I scan my body, I sink into myself and listen to what I need. For instance, as I type this, my body’s telling me to go for a walk (which I’m about to do). Not too long ago, I would have ignored this sensation and pushed on through. And that’s how we become stressed, unhappy, and eventually ill.

I often find it challenging to notice feelings in my body, so don’t worry if you find this difficult – do the best you can. You can’t run a marathon the minute you put on sneakers. Being more compassionate toward yourself could be your intention.

Set a Goal or Intention

Decide what you want based on what your body’s telling you. Work or other commitments might come first, but find a couple minutes to do what your body’s asking, no matter how busy you are.

It can be simple, like picking up clothes from your floor, or more involved, like being more patient. You’re better off picking easy wins at first – it’ll help build your intention muscles. The dopamine hit you get from achieving the goal makes you more likely to continue setting them.

Resolutions vs Intentions in the New Year 2024

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Be positive

When you create an intention, frame it optimistically. For example, instead of saying “I’ll stop being so critical of others,” say to yourself, “I’ll continue to find something positive in everyone I meet today.” Or instead of saying “I’ll stop eating so much junk food,” you can reframe the intention and say “I’ll continue to eat more fruit and healthy food.”

Write it down

This isn’t mandatory, but according to a study at the Dominican University in California, you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goal if you write it down. And many people find using a pen and paper (and not a phone) most effective.

So, what are my intentions for 2024? My primary goal is to love myself, no matter what. I’ll explore that more in my next article. Until then, may the New Year bring you all you desire.


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