Throw your resolutions out the window. Try intentions instead.

Melissa Rosenthal
3 min readFeb 3


Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

I like words. For those that know me, it’s hardly a shocking revelation. As a coach, words are the tools I use to help clients create a new sense of clarity and understanding. But this understanding only comes when we thoughtfully select the words that reflect our intended meaning — which takes time and care.

Jargon is often the natural combatant to clarity. How many times during the day do you hear words like goals, plans, outcomes, strategies, KPIs or OKRs used interchangeably? We’re all guilty of it. Once you start noticing, you realise it’s happening everywhere.

Yesterday I talked with a group of leaders. It was the first of our regular conversations for 2023. We meet to openly discuss elements of leadership that are relevant for them individually and the business. To kick off the year, we considered translating end-of-year reflections into intentions (not resolutions) for the new year. Before our discussion, I shared this article from Bullet Journal with the group to prime their thinking.

Two ideas emerged from our conversation:

1. Drawing clear distinctions between intentions and resolutions helped when considering the commitments they wanted (and didn’t want) to make for 2023.

According to the article, resolutions are the commitment to an outcome, and they fail 92% of the time due to the lack of a goal, a plan or an intention. If we don’t know why we’re doing it, how we will do it or what it will look like when complete, we typically won’t bother.

Intentions are the commitment to a process. Intentions are the actions we’re prepared to take. They focus on what we want to be rather than where we want to go. And they connect seamlessly with goals and plans using this structure:

To be (intention)

+ I will (goal)

+ By (plan)

For example

To be healthier and live well as I get older,

I will increase my daily step count by 1,500 steps

By taking a 15-minute walk after dinner each night

Connecting back to a “why” (the intention) made the exercise more valuable and more like to succeed.

2. When overwhelmed, it’s helpful to ask yourself two questions:

- What is weighing you down? and

- What is bringing you joy?

Comparing the answers to these questions can provide valuable insight into where you might want to focus your intentions. For one member of the group (who permitted me to mention this), the comparison illustrated that while he felt pretty overwhelmed by his “weight list”, there were pivotal cross-over points with his “joy list”. By recognising this connection, he could refine his intentions to align more closely with his joy list while reducing his focus on some of the less critical items weighing him down.

So, if you have a pathological hatred for New Year’s resolutions, or if yours have already gone out the window, consider declaring your intentions instead. How might that change your approach to this year’s endless list of demands?

Let me know how you go!



Melissa Rosenthal

Executive Coach | Mentor | Advisor | Podcast Co-host Remote Control |