Picture it, it’s the end of the year and you’re scrambling to pick yourself apart to identify every flaw and character trait that you intend to leave behind. You resolve to eat healthier, work out more, live your best life and insert whatever promise you might soon falter in the new year. 

While some folks succeed with resolutions, it always feels like more people than not bow out far sooner than planned. This is why for the past few years, I made a personal decision to ditch the resolutions and instead set intentions

At the top of the year, under the darkness of the new moon in Capricorn, which is spiritually hailed as the best day to set forth intentions, I pulled out my most fabulous notebook and began scribbling words and phrases. I didn’t immediately know what words would hit the page until a theme began crafting itself. Words like purpose, gratitude, vibes, heal, creativity, social circle and even bonnet began crowding the ruled lines. Once I realized I had some semblance of what journey my spirit intended for me to embark upon, I started crafting action-oriented phrases. 

I think this is the biggest way resolutions and intentions differ. The word resolution is defined as being a firm decision, but an intention is “a thing intended; an aim or plan and the action or fact of intending,” according to Google dictionary. It’s an action-oriented word that allows you to move more freely in the purpose of your annual commitments. 

As such, something like losing weight then becomes a series of goals that may result in weight loss, like waking up earlier, making a major dietary change, starting strength training and going outside every day. Each of those items seeks to enrich your life in a variety of ways allowing you to carve out a more healthy lifestyle without relegating yourself to a new and rigorous gym routine or exclusionary diet that may not work well for you. 

Intentions also allow you to be more gentle and set reminders for yourself. While one might resolve to be stronger, or not listen to haters, you could instead write things like, remember, whatever you lose was meant to be lost and be more open to experience life. These more tender phrases allow you to be innately human, and that’s legit what you are. 

More than just being kind to yourself, intention setting also allows you to hone in on certain things. You may have resolved to read more; however, you can set an intention to read 10 books this year. Putting the number of books you’d like to read will help you get a better understanding of your time commitment and actual desire to read. If at the end of the year, you read only six books, then you know how many books you will realistically read in a year. If you instead read 17, then you can probably just consider that something you do and don't include it on your next list of intentions. Consider this a way to get to know yourself on a higher level.

Actions are also included in intention-setting. Heading into 2021, I set an action to wear my bonnet. I get very hot when I sleep so bonnet-wearing and the satin pillowcase alternative has never been comfortable things for me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t specific enough with myself and only wore my bonnet on the days my hair was silk pressed. This year, I’ve written to myself to wear your bonnet on curly days. Notice that I still don’t insist that I wear the bonnet every day. This is because, through intention setting, I’m aware of what language works for me and how I will respond. Further, I’d never attempt to lie to myself. I mean, I kind of know me a little too well to get played by me. 

Overall, however, I think I gravitate most toward intention setting because, at the end of my list of intentions and actions, I am most often able to identify a series of one-word themes that will play out over the new year. I call this my word bank. My 2022 word bank includes these words derived from my intentions: manifest, heal, intentions, grow, purpose, vibe, universe, genuine, connection, spirit, gratitude, celebrate, grieve. I’ve written them on neon sticky notes and posted them where I will see them each day. As the year progresses, I can monitor my progress just by checking to see if I’ve felt any of those words. 

I know you're thinking, well, this is a fine time to tell me all of this, but I promise you, it’s still early in the year. You have plenty of time to ditch your resolutions or even just rewrite them as intentions. This is your year so make sure you commit to living it to the fullest.