Some of us think holding on makes us strong but sometimes it is letting go. Herman Hesse


Let go of becoming but never let go of taking action. Stop expecting and start living. Maxime Lagacé


Intentions vs goals? We see much advice on how to set goals for the New Year. Stephen Colbert set two resolutions for the New Year this week, however, as is mostly the case, he broke them  in the next minute. Not a good example but an example of the folly of resolutions. If you are seeking a new start this year let’s explore how to make changes that endure.


All the advice about setting goals is persuasive and somehow, we begin to think that if we do not set goals this January that we are not following the rules. For some people just getting through the holiday season is enough. I think it would be better to set intentions, goals, and resolutions on our own terms.They become real and concrete if we are ready and have done clearing and letting go of the past. Being fully present can help to have clarity with what we need.


Setting goals provides specific targets, timelines, and something to attain. They must be realistic, specific, measurable, and attainable. Goals are finite so what do we do when we accomplish them or abandon them?  As in “I want to exercise three times per week for the next six weeks”. If we don’t accomplish 3x per week is 2x ok?. Goals and intentions must be revisable.


I prefer intentions or “leaning in” or leaning towards. Intentions are something we can work on continuously and they become a focus not a rigid goal that we must accomplish. Many things are a work in progress. Becoming healthier is an intention and exercising more often is living that intention. Focusing mostly on the positive aspects of life means inviting more positive experiences in. When you have a choice, choose light not darkness and a future based on your values not someone else’s. Do we have a heart connection with the experience? Does it fill you up or bring you down?


Sometimes setting our intentions or goals for the year are better set when we have experienced the New Year and are better situated. Sometimes we have to move on and deal with unfinished business first. If we are healing from a challenging or traumatic experience we might have to gain clarity and healing from that experience before we can set an accurate picture of who we are now and what we really need. Maybe setting goals or intentions in March or April is more feasible. We can’t jump into a new life and new career or lifestyle until we have clarity or we risk retracing our steps. Our heart or energy may not be in it even if the mind is willing. In career counselling, especially, how can we develop a new career without really knowing ourselves. Of course, I believe life is full of learning experiences and whatever way our path takes us we learn from our successes and our mistakes. Therefore if you are feeling compelled to set goals and intentions go ahead but allow room for rethinking and revisioning. Happy New Year!