Have you ever noticed that at the beginning of the new year, there seems to be this underlying narrative around goals, resolutions, and intentions? I am seeing a trend away from resolutions and going towards intentions. My coach asked me to write my intentions down (which I did). But what about resolutions? And what about goals? And are we just slapping a fancy buzzword on it but it's really the same thing? So I decided to do a little research to figure it out.
First, I looked up the three on dictionary.com to get the definitional version of each.
I get why I was curious about the difference between the three. Based on the dictionary version, they seem to have elements of one another. From my readings and experiences, we can demonstrate the differences as follows.
A resolution is a decision to do something. It’s supposed to be long-term and something you keep versus something you complete.
An example of a resolution is: I resolve to be a healthy eater.
An intention is the what we want to be/how we show up. In Wayne Dyer’s book, The Power of Intention, he defines intention as a strong purpose or aim, accompanied by a determination to produce a desired result.”
Using the same example, only reframed as an intention: I intend (I have mentally decided) to be a healthy eater.
The difference here though is subtle but big; a resolution is something you keep, you do this day in and day out. An intention is something you strive for. I think we’d be foolhardy to believe that we will eat healthy every single day for the rest of our lives. In this example, it’s heatlhy eating at 100% for the resolution vs 80 or 90% for the intention.
Lastly, there is the goal. I love goals! Goals are the desired result a person wishes to achieve; it’s the end point. The difference between an intention and a goal in practicality, is that the intention is how we get there (making up our minds to eat heathy) and the goal is where we are going (to be/eat healthier).
My goal is to eat healthier (this can then be made a SMART goal and measured by the types and the amount of food I eat, for example).
Not everyone is a goal oriented person. That's okay.
Everyone could (and I would submit should) be an intentions person.
Resolutions should be few and far between. Generally speaking, they aren't realistic.
The reason why I wanted to explore this was to 1) determine if we (I) was just buying into the hype and 2) determine if there was a meaningful difference.
Based on my analysis, I think intentions and goals are more closely aligned than resolutions which makes it a little more challenging to discern the difference. There is a difference between intentions and goals, and a more meaningful difference between resolutions and intentions and goals.
The other important note is whether you use goals and intentions interchangeably, it doesn't really matter; it's the implementation of those concepts that do. As long as you've identified the end point, and intend to do the items that help achieve your goal (and execute), that's what's most important.
The best thing is, even though we talk about it at the new year, resolutions, intentions, and goals don't have a season.