Setting Intentions to Live By


Are you still on track with your New Years Resolutions?

Many folks create a list of New Year’s Resolutions, aimed at addressing the guilt, surfeit, and over-indulgence of the holiday season. One sees the results in increased gym memberships, the purchase of sports equipment, a run on self-help books, and planners that include personal, emotional and professional goals. Most resolutions last about two weeks (for the die-hards, about a month) before motivation is extinguished because life got in the way. This is frequently going to happen. Do you recall your resolutions from last year, and did you accomplish them? That’s what I thought, and, same here.


It’s ok to set goals to start the New Year, and they are most likely to be achieved if they are: doable, specific and time limited. For example: “I will walk for 45 minutes per day, 5 days per week. That works, and your fitbit won’t let you lie about it.

Intentions versus Goals

But goals and resolutions are not the same as intentions, which are more values and philosophies-based commitments. They are not finite as discrete accomplishments, rather, they provide a basis for explaining why you will do something, such as deepening your love and support for your friends,  by spending less time on social media. They are not the end of the equation, they are the means, aimed at giving life deeper meaning.

Here are some basic examples of Intentions:

Be kinder (there’s enough negativity out there without adding to it! Elevate the discourse, it’s more likely to yield positive results instead of reinforcing one’s biases).

  1. Give more than you receive.

  2. Exercise compassion.

  3. Forgive more graciously.

  4. Spend more quality time with loved ones, including kitties and doggies.

  5. Engage more with nature.

  6. Listen more and talk less.

  7. Replace complaints with gratitude

  8. Stay connected with others.

  9. Learn something new every day

These intentions are just some samples, and everyone can tailor their own. You can return to them periodically; add to, subtract from or modify, but use them just to keep yourself on track for being your optimal self. The Chopra Center suggests that intentions be planted or reviewed after a meditation, “while your awareness remains centered on all of the possibilities.” And daily mindfulness practice ( you can add that to your list) helps to bring those intentions to the present moment and throughout the day.