Resolutions and Intentions: Three Simple Steps to Change Your Life

Updated on February 8, 2020
Deborah Demander profile image

Deborah is a writer, healer, and teacher. Her goal is to help people live their best lives every day by sharing her joy and love of life.


Resolutions and Intentions

The new year brings a lot of hope and sometimes can carry a lot of baggage. Coming into any new year, you may find yourself setting several resolutions. Perhaps you want to lose weight, get out of debt, or find more time to exercise. You create a list of resolutions that reflect your stated goals.

"Intention" is another popular buzz word. People say to "set your intention to create the life you want", "what is your intention?"; and to "set intentions to manifest change".

What is the difference between resolutions and intentions, and how can both help you live and create your best life? Here I describe the differences in the context of weight loss.

What Is a Resolution?

A resolution is a solid, concrete course of action with a firm, determined outcome. An intention is a course of action that guides your choices and behavior. While resolutions are typically rigid and well defined, intentions are flexible and malleable with changing circumstances.

For example, you might have noticed that you gained a few pounds over the holidays. An example resolution would be "I will lose ten pounds in January," or "I will work out for one hour every day."

What Is an Intention?

An intention, on the other hand, focuses on a course of action such as "I will eat more fruits and vegetables," or "I will drink more water," or even "I will choose a healthy diet," or "I will increase the amount of physical activity I do." Intentions outline what will happen but without specific metrics.

Why Does the Difference Between the Two Matter?

Resolutions and intentions offer one starting point, to lose weight and be healthy, but support the goal to do so with two very different approaches.

While there is nothing wrong with setting intentions or making resolutions, you might discover that the absolute nature of resolutions, in particular, makes them easy to give up on. You might ditch that list of self-improvement resolutions before the end of January because meeting such rigid, concrete goals is too challenging.

The nature of the concept behind intentions is more forgiving, allowing for adaptation to life's ever-changing circumstances. They also allow you to change your behavior and adjust your choices around what is working (and what isn't).

Regardless of how you set your goals, creating a vision for your life involves change. It means you are planning to move from one place to another: from where you are now to where you'd like to be. You can use both intentions and resolutions to get you to where you want to be.


Change Your Life in Three Steps

1. Decide What You Want to Change

2. Set an Intention or Create a Resolution Plan

3. Repeat Daily

Take an Honest Look at Where You're At

The first step to creating lasting change in your life is to look honestly at where you are and what needs to change.

Health Check

If it's your health that you're concerned with, step on a scale and get a number. Go to a doctor and have your blood pressure checked, and get the tests you've been meaning to get. Try walking on a treadmill, track or trail to get an idea of your fitness level. Be real about where you are, and figure out where you want to be.

Financial Assessment

How about your finances? First, look at all your bank balances, credit card debt, and spending habits. Be real with yourself. If you can't tell yourself the truth, then who can you trust? How much money do you wish you had?

How to Assess All Areas of Your Life

Look at all the areas of your life: health, finances, relationships, spirituality, community, work. Maybe you're single and you'd like to be in a relationship. Maybe you're in a job you hate and you want to change. Maybe you'd like to go back to school. Maybe you want to run a marathon. Decide which areas you are satisfied in and which areas you'd like to see change or improvement.

While there may be several areas that you'd like to change, choose one to start with. Focusing on one thing at a time helps you succeed in the long run and create a lasting impact.


From "What" to "How"

Once you decide what area you'd like to improve, think critically about where you'd like to be. Beginning to go from what to how requires only two steps:

  • Choose your goal.
  • Articulate your goal. It can be something as broad as "I want to be healthier this year," or as specific as "I want to run a 10k in July."

The goal is up to you. It is your life, and this is your opportunity to create exactly the life you'd like.


Change Your Mind, Change Your Life

Once you've decided to change, you've practically won the battle. Changing your mind is the first step to changing your life. Until you can view yourself, your finances, your relationship, or your job in an objective, change-oriented light, you won't change anything. Changing your behavior can be initiated in three simple steps: Visualizing your future, creating a plan to change your habits, and set the plan in action towards your visualized future.

1. Visualize Your Future

When you see where you are and decide where you'd like to be, then you can create a map to get you there. This is where intentions and resolutions come into play.

Your mind has changed once you begin to see where you want to be. Now you can change your habits. While this is not an easy task, it is a simple concept.

2. Your Plan to Change Your Habits

Do one thing differently every day. Each day, choose one action, behavior or thought that is more in line with who you want to be.

After you decide where you want to go, create a plan for your resolution. An outline for your resolution might say, "I will not use my credit card for five days," or "I will only use cash for purchases," or "I will drink ten glasses of water every day," or "I will work out for one hour daily."

Your resolution is a firm commitment to do something differently. In whatever area you choose, a resolution means you are setting your resolve. You are determined to do something new. It's important to pick one area that you want to change, and create a realistic resolution to support that change.

If you prefer, you can set an intention. Rather than firmly resolving to take a decisive step, an intention is more about committing to a general change of action or behavior. You aren't really changing what you are doing so much as who you are being. Your intention might be something like, "I intend to stop internet shopping," or "I will start saving money every month," or "I will focus on my health and choose nutritious foods." An intention is about creating who you are, rather than what you do.

You can use both intentions and resolutions to create change in your life. While you intend to be healthier, a resolution to exercise daily will help you along that path.

3. Put Your Plan Into Action

Whatever route you choose, be realistic. Don't create an action plan that is impossible to achieve. Do things that make sense for your actual lifestyle. Remember, you are being honest with yourself. Will you really get up two hours earlier every day to exercise? Will you really stop eating out every day for lunch? Small changes, consistently carried out, are more important and impactful than huge changes that are only done once or twice.

Decide where you want to go and focus on who you want to be. Try to make decisions and choices every day that reflect that truth. And if you mess up, every breath offers another opportunity to begin again. Forgive yourself and try again.

A Note on Forgiveness

Every day, every breath, every moment offers you an opportunity to begin again. Don't lose sight of who you want to be and where you want to go. In those moments when you forget, stop, and take a deep breath. Change your mind.

Remember that thinking the thoughts you always have, saying the words you've always said, doing the things you've always done, will lead you right back to being who you've always been.

Now is the time to think a new thought, to speak a new word, do a new thing. And when you forget, forgive yourself, and start again.

It is never too late to begin again. Your entire life awaits you. All you have to do is decide. Then take one step forward. Then another step. Each day, a new step, a new start, and a fresh opportunity can create the life you want.

You can do this, one step at a time.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Deborah Demander Reno


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    • Deborah Demander profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Demander Reno 

      6 months ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      @Peggy Woods,

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

      I think small changes are the ones that really make lasting change.


    • Deborah Demander profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Demander Reno 

      6 months ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      @Chitrangada Sharan,

      Thank you for the insightful comments. Its a wonderful saying, that we each need inspiration, motivation and appreciation. That is a beautiful thing.


    • Deborah Demander profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Demander Reno 

      6 months ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      @Beth Elkassih, Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my article. You are so correct, the only time people will change is when the pain is greater than the fear of change.

      Thank you for your comments,


    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Your advice to make small changes and do it daily is the best way to achieve overall results in the long run. This is a good article and a motivating one. It is perfect for this time of year when people are resolving to make changes in their lives.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      7 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Excellent suggestions, with the much needed motivation, to start afresh in the New year.

      I agree with you that we should leave the ‘baggage’ behind, and carry forward with the new hopes and new aspirations.

      Thanks for your simple helpful tips. Because, we all need that little bit of inspiration, motivation and then appreciation, each day. Don’t we?

      Thanks for sharing. Happy New Year.

    • Beth Elkassih profile image

      Beth Elkassih 

      7 months ago

      I enjoyed reading this. I so agree. Things will only change when the motivation to change is greater than staying with the status quo. I'm also a blogger and am a mental health advocate. Great article. Well done! Shall pin as well.


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