Intentions vs goals vs resolutions - What's the difference and what should you set? Goals vs resolutions

Intentions vs goals vs resolutions – What’s the difference and what should you set?

I’ve always been a goal digger. I’ve been subconsciously setting goals for myself before I even understood the concept properly. Id tell myself “read till page 46, then you can go out and play.” or “finish your homework before 4pm so you don’t miss your favorite cartoon”

But I’ve never been a big fan of New year’s resolutions.

Resolutions always felt so arbitrary and boy did I hate the January crowd they created in the gym! For the first two to three weeks that is. When you see them failing all around you it’s only natural that you start believing that sticking to new year’s resolutions is impossible.

New year resolutions are notoriously rigid. It’s all or nothing and there’s no margin for error. When you fail, you fail and there’s no way back.

Then one New Year’s eve I’ve set an intention for the year and everything changed.

Intentions vs goals vs resolutions

Before we dive any deeper let’s have a look at the definitions and difference between intentions vs goals vs resolutions.

An intention is something that you aim for. It’s an idea that you mean to carry out. It’s something that you intend to do or be. Intentions are the loftier ones of the bunch, they’re open ended and often vague.

A resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something. It’s strict and there’s no wiggle room. You either stick to it or you fail.

A goal is your desired result, a point marking the end of a journey. It’s your target, your end destination. When you reach it, you’re done.

Some of the most popular resolutions are actually goals – like loosing X kilograms or making six figures. If there’s a specific target or an end to a resolution, that’s usually a sign it’s actually a goal.

Intentions define the actions we take today while goals and resolutions are future focused.

Resolutions and intentions are big and often vague, while goals are specific and measurable.

Pitfalls of only setting goals

There is no hamster wheel like the goal setting one.

Setting goals (and achieving them) can often leave you feeling empty. You work your ass off, you reach your big goal, you celebrate for a moment (or sometimes you don’t) … and then what?

Goals have an expiry date. They’re a target that once reached, it’s reached. You’re done. Finito. Fin.

So you either hop right back on the wheel and set the next goal or you end up feeling lost with no clear direction.

Pitfalls of only setting resolutions

I believe resolutions have potential, but we often set them wrong. We set expectations so high, that we’re basically setting ourselves up for failure. Or we set resolutions so random that we don’t even know how they’d benefit us.

Making a resolution usually entails making a promise to yourself to change some aspect of your life or yourself. So pick them wisely and for the right reason or they will backfire.

Pitfalls of only setting intentions

I first came across setting intentions in yoga. At the beginning of each practice you’re supposed to reflect and set an intention for your practice and your day. At the end of the practice you’d often meditate on it too.

Now, this might seem a bit woo woo to some but this simple act of internalizing an intention can be extremely powerful. And the best part is that you can set intentions for life not just a single day or an hour of yoga practice.

However, intentions are vague, short sighted and usually not action oriented. They can often be that noise in the background you never stop to listen to, yet alone act on it.

Should you set intentions, resolutions or goals?

While they’re three different concepts, they have a lot in common and can work their magic together.

These three concepts funnel down from the more broad (intentions) to the more specific (resolution) to the most specific (goals). They serve different purposes and can all work together to help you achieve what you want and become who you want to be.

Intentions help align your choices with your values and highest goals on a daily basis, goals give you specific and attainable milestones to keep you motivated, while resolutions help you reinforce lifelong changes.

With all this being said I’d like to urge you NOT to get lost in semantics.

Doesn’t matter if you call it a goal, a resolution, an intention, objective or the holly grail, the principles of achieving your desired outcomes are always the same:

  1. Have a clear vision
  2. Commit to it on a deeper level
  3. Plan for success
  4. Execute on your plan every day
  5. Review and adjust as needed

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