Moving From Setting New Year’s Resolutions to Setting Intentions


5 Tips to Help You Start Setting Intentions


New Year’s Resolutions being a thing of the past

When I was growing up, and even into adulthood, people would always be asking each other “what is your new year’s resolution” right before the new year was about to hit. And, me not knowing any differently, would always try to come up with something to change for the new year. This would go on for several days, and often the weeks before the new year. When I was in school one of my new year resolutions would be “next year I don’t want to procrastinate so much.” That generally lasted a couple of months, if I was lucky, and then it went by the wayside. According to some of the top resolutions include stop smoking, lose weight, stay fit and healthy, and save more and spend less. Their statistics also show that only 8% of people are successful in achieving their resolutions.


Moving towards setting intentions

This brings me to my next thought of changing the way we enter the new year. In the last couple of years, I have become more aware of social media and people around me talking about “setting an intention”. By setting an intention I am referring to thinking about how you want to live, engage in the world, and get the most out of your life while looking towards the future. When you lack intention, that’s when you may stray from your path, or feel like you’re lacking focus in your life. The great thing about setting an intention is that you can make this a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly process.

You also might have different intentions for different time periods. For example, one of my daily intentions is to be mindful of how I interact with those around me, my thoughts, actions, and my speech. An example of a yearly intention is paying more attention to my health, and think about how I am caring for myself. This is different than saying “for my new year’s resolution I want to lose 20 pounds and am going to stay away from junk food. According to, setting an intention should not be confused with a goal. They refer to an intention as “… an aim, a purpose, or attitude you’d be proud to commit to.” It’s like the old Buddhist saying “what you think what you become.”


5 Tips to Start Helping You Set Intentions

Here are some ways to set positive intentions in your life, whether that be for new year’s, or every day of the week.

  • First and foremost, make your intention positive. The more you are positive in your life, the more you will attract positive things. That may be something related to your personal life, work life, or spiritual life. Whatever it is for you, the importance of positivity is key in setting a successful intention.
  • Secondly, set realistic intentions, with realistic time frames. You know how some people say “the bigger, the better.” Well, when setting an intention, it’s probably the opposite. You want to set yourself up for success, which might mean smaller, more frequent intention setting. Just like in the example I gave earlier, waking up and setting an intention for the day gets you started on the right foot.
  • Next, write your intentions down. Get a separate journal or notebook, and keep track of your intentions. You can add to that in any way you like, or just have it as a list for your reference. Similar to when you write down what you’re grateful for, this creates a larger chance of your gaining something from the process of setting your intentions.
  • Some people find that sharing their intention with a friend, co-worker, or loved one, they are not only held more accountable, but are able to receive support from those people in helping you stayed focused on your intention.
  • Lastly, if you are setting a daily intention, try to spend some time meditating. This helps clear your mind and really focus on what your intention is for that day. If you are saying “I don’t have time to meditate”, all it takes is 5 minutes. That’s part of setting the intention as well.


If you are interested in learning more about setting intentions and how they can be helpful in your daily life, please feel free to contact me.

Norine Vander Hooven  is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Westlake Village, California, and has been in practice for 30 years. Norine views the decision to enter therapy as displaying strength and courage. Norine specializes in suicide prevention, depression, anxiety, mindfulness, and life transitions. Norine is also EMDR trained and uses this to work with people with PTSD and severe anxiety. Norine works with youth, adolescents, adults, and families.


9 replies added

  1. Gina January 6, 2017 Reply

    Norine, I love the idea of an intention rather than a resolution. There somehow comes a gentleness and less pressure about it that feels less intimidating. The tips you listed are very clear and helpful!

  2. Mica January 7, 2017 Reply

    This is a great way to sum it up! I read a while back that intentions are better than resolutions (although not to this level of detail, awesome guide!) so I’ve been trying to do that each year.

  3. Megan January 10, 2017 Reply

    An intention seems so much more attainable than a resolution- like there is more freedom with it, and not quite so scary! Great post!

    • January 10, 2017 Reply

      I’m happy to hear that this way seems more attainable. I totally agree! 🙂 Thanks for your feedback!

  4. David January 24, 2017 Reply

    I love the idea of sharing intentions with others. It proves you really want it and it sets up a kind of accountability with others.

  5. Lanie Smith January 28, 2017 Reply

    Yes to intentions! So much more meaningful and expansive.

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