Setting Intentions: A Resolution Revolution

a world of possibility

by Angela Noel

January 5, 2017

Sometimes, even if I want a grilled cheese sandwich, the bread is moldy and the cheese has a funny (but not in a good way) smell. I must adapt my dinner preferences as I must adapt my life to the circumstances within it.

When we make New Year’s Resolutions, no doubt the goal is to resolve an issue we perceive in our lives today. We resolve to stop something we’re doing. Or start something new. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to break the routine and introduce a new idea. The issue I have with resolutions, as we practice them in daily life today, is with the stiff formality of it all.

Our lives are fluid. But, resolutions assume only a grilled cheese will do.

So I don’t make them. (Actually, I don’t make either resolutions or grilled cheese. The former, because I think they don’t work well, the latter because I always burn them.) Instead, I create intentions. They’re ideas I want to live into, frameworks that set a direction, but don’t specify the road.

An intention, in my definition, is three things: personal, non-restrictive, and  contribution-based.


No one else needs to understand an intention, or what they represent, but me. I might pick a picture that reminds me of seeing beauty in the world. Or perhaps it’s a quote from a book I read, or a podcast I listened to. “Dance my dance,” was one of my favorites from my 2016 list. This was from a lecture by Father Anthony de Mello.

Pictures have a way to inspire the right intentions
What would this picture inspire for you?


These aren’t goals, like “write 10,000 words a day.” I’ve got writing goals and performance targets at work, but Intentions aren’t items I have “to do,” they’re ways I want to live. The goals I have are tools in line with, but not in place of, my intentions.


Intentions or resolutions that depend on other people, or circumstances outside of our direct control, are doomed. “Get promoted” feels action oriented, but depends on too many elusive factors well outside our area of influence. Instead, my intentions focus on what I want to contribute, not what I want to receive. A work-based intention might look like, “Build and offer my knowledge and effort in new ways.” I can find ways to do this without any assistance from anyone, and it just feels good.

An intention is a promise of how I’ll BE in the next year, not just what I’ll do. The do always follows the be.

Finally, I think it helps to share my intentions with someone. I post them up at work and at home. I email them to friends, and encourage them to do the same. When they are known outside of myself, I feel like I have a community supporting me. And I want to do the same for others.

Every new year, new day, new moment invites the opportunity to build on the one before. We take what we have, and keep moving towards what we want. Unless what we want is a grilled cheese–in that case, we’re fresh out. But, we’ll find something we like just as much.


Your turn: How do you approach the new year? What types of goals/intentions do you set for yourself?


  • The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander
  • Radical Leadership founded by Therese Kienast


Author: Angela Noel

On a quest to become a better human, I write about parenting, leadership, and personal development. I tell my stories so you can find your own.

14 thoughts on “Setting Intentions: A Resolution Revolution”

    1. Thanks, Colleen! I look forward to the chance to “reset” my world view every year and spend some time really thinking about what I want to create in the next twelve months. I’m so glad you stopped by.

  1. Wow! This is very well-thought out. I haven’t even filled out my new daytimer. It’s filled with places for intentions and goals. Ha!
    With your attitude, you will accomplish a ton this year!

    1. Thanks, Susie! I’m still finalizing a few ideas for 2017. But I always get excited when I feel like an idea grabs me- like Be With and For Others. It’s seems so simple, but it can mean a lot. You’ve done such a good job encouraging others, you’re an excellent role model. 🙂

  2. One of my intentions for 2017 is Exploration! Too often I’ve denied myself the choice of exploring the many different areas of life that interest me. No more! This is my year to sample, to dabble, to have a taste of everything that meets my fancy. Instead of perceiving myself as a negative of flighty I’m reframing it as a positive of flexible!

  3. I love this idea. I stopped making resolutions years ago because I never seemed to achieve them because well life happens doesn’t it? We get thrown a curve ball and our resolutions fly out the window. So I like the idea of intentions because it’s not tied to a specific result and seems to be internally oriented as opposed to externally oriented and that’s a good thing!

  4. Trying to lessen anxiety levels. Lemon and water instead of caffeine…not every time but sometime!

    1. Good thought! I should add that to my list. Maybe something like, Honor my body by choosing healthier options!! That’s a good one for me to keep thinking about.

  5. Pingback: Fighting the Body Image War - The Astonishing Tales
  6. This is basically how I feel about resolutions too 😁. Rather than a resolution to post 10 lbs (which isn’t exactly ideal when pregnant) I will approach the year saying that I want to make healthier choices. It’s about feeling betterbanf making the world a better place.

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