New Year Resolutions vs. Intentions

There goes another year down. In 2021, we continued to experience a global pandemic and all the difficulties that came with it. I’m guessing you’re looking forward to the New Year as much as I am. It's common for people to make New Year's resolutions as they're looking ahead, closing the chapter of one year and opening to the next. I personally never really liked the idea of New Year's resolutions and having recently read an article about the difference between setting intentions for the New Year versus resolutions I’m convinced resolutions are not for me.

I'm a big fan of the podcast Dirtbag Diaries which celebrates many facets of the outdoor community from fishing to climbing. Anyone familiar knows every year in January they publish the Year of Big Ideas episode, where people from all over the outdoor community call and write in, sharing plans for the next year. If you're not familiar, I recommend checking it out. In fact, while you're at it, perusing the many podcasts over the years, I encourage you to check out the year of big ideas 2018. Why do you ask? That was the year the podcast’s creator Fitz Cahall shares his “ode to mediocrity.” You may be asking, why would you celebrate mediocrity? Let me explain. Resolutions can be viewed in all or nothing terms, right along with perfectionism. Conversely, if the perfect outcome is not obtained, shame is likely to be felt as they are so often closely linked. In celebrating mediocrity, one focuses on expectations from self improvement and intention standpoints, rather than perfectionism.

So, as we're looking ahead to the New Year, let's examine our expectations. Let's think about the idea of resolutions versus the idea of intentions. An article I read recently, stated, an “intention is something that you aim to achieve. Intentions have a purpose and are something that you actively work to manifest in your life overtime, leaving room for “hiccups” and self-reflection along the way”. The author goes on to write “this allows us to move forward without having an attachment to the outcome or self-judgment. Intentions are more about the journey and what we learn in the process. Instead of looking to fix ourselves we just fine tune ourselves. A resolution conversely is relatively simple; you either do it or you don’t”. There's that all or nothing thinking again! “Failing” at keeping a resolution can leave us feeling lazy, guilty, undisciplined or unfocused.

In another article, author Peg Streep talks about examining why you’ve made these goals in the first place. She examines intrinsic and extrinsic goals. Intrinsic goals reflect our inner selves and our truest aspiration's. They tend to be ones we actually set our mind to achieving and chances are, they ones we tend to be more compassionate with ourselves about. Extrinsic goals are those we may go after, but they may be motivated by other people, culture (social media) or pressure we may feel to fit in.