How to Set Meaningful Intentions

January 26, 2023

As we are approaching the new year, this is a time where we can reflect on everything we’ve experienced in 2022 and set intentions for 2023.  

Resolutions vs. Intentions 

For the new year, consider setting intentions instead of focusing on making strict resolutions. What exactly is the difference between the two? 

Resolutions are promises that we make to ourselves to stop doing something bad or start doing something good at the beginning of the new year. While they may seem like a good idea, resolutions don’t work for many people. Often people decide on something they want to do for the new year, but they don’t have a plan on how to accomplish it. We also tend to view resolutions with an “all or nothing” mentality, so once we slip up on them we’re likely to just abandon them all together. 

Intentions are much less rigid and pressuring They are based on what our values are and what’s most important to us, like our physical and mental health, our relationships, our careers, or our hobbies. Setting intentions is all about reconnecting with our authentic selves. They are less focused on the results and more on the process and experiences of our journey. When we set intentions, they enable us to cultivate meaningful relationships with others and ourselves, and to live a more meaningful life.  

How to Set Intentions for 2023 

Now that we know the benefits of setting intentions, rather than resolutions, how can we set good intentions for ourselves for the upcoming new year? 

Take Time to Self-Reflect 

Self-reflection is the first step. We won’t be able to solidify our intentions for the new year without considering our experiences from this past year and how they have shaped us. Take the time to fully reflect on what really matters to you at the end of this year. Perhaps that is your relationship with your family and friends, or a social or environmental cause that you want to contribute to more. Once we reflect on what matters to us, we can set intentions that are guided by these values.  

Release Your Doubts and Negative Beliefs 

In our intention setting, it’s also important to take a moment to challenge any doubts or negative beliefs we have. Our doubts we may hold about our ability to set and stick to our intentions can get in the way. Challenge these negative thoughts by questioning if they are really true.  

Solidify Your Intentions 

When our intentions for the new year come to mind, solidify them by documenting your intentions. Create statements for your intentions and write them down in a journal or somewhere so that you can go back to them. Continue solidifying your intentions by thinking about them daily and meditating with them in mind. Share them with your loved ones if you feel inclined to as well. The more that these intentions are front of mind, the more your daily life will be guided by them.  

Let Your Intentions Guide Your Goals 

Goals are related to intentions because our intentions give us direction when pursuing goals. Intentions empower us to set and achieve goals because we want to make decisions that honor our values and the things that are most important to us. With our intentions in mind, we will be more likely to set goals focused on long-term, meaningful change, rather than resolutions centered more around instant gratification. Allow your intentions to guide your plans and SMART goals that you make for yourself. 

Check in With Yourself Throughout the Year 

We don’t want to think about and set our intentions, then forget about them or abandon them later in the year. When we set our meaningful intentions, we also need to remember to check in on ourselves about them. These short check ins can be daily, weekly or monthly depending on the intention. Checking in on ourselves will allow us to reflect on how we have lived out our intentions and to consider how we may need to make adjustments. 

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