By Kristen Donia

The new year has arrived and we are ever so happy to greet it. For many of us, last year was a lot to handle. A pandemic paired with our own personal challenges felt in a word, heavy.

Often when kicking off the new year, we are inspired by the clean slate it offers and want to make commitments or resolutions to ourselves. To eat healthier, to drink more water, or work out more to name a few. These are made with the purest desires, a hope for a new way of life, one that is an improvement from how we have been living.

The Cold Turkey Approach

Have you ever tried to quit something you loved cold turkey? Like eating ice cream or binge-watching a favorite show? It’s hard, right? Simply stopping something you really enjoy even though you know it’s better for you is incredibly challenging.

In my experience, not many of my resolutions have stuck, while the practice of setting intentions has. What’s the difference? And how can we integrate them into a positive body outlook and approach? Let’s explore just that.

What is an Intention?

The difference between a resolution and an intention is realistic expectations and kindness. A resolution has a set in stone approach. “I will stop eating dessert before bed.” “I will be active every single day.” These are rigid and hold us to standards that are not always achievable; especially considering we probably spent the previous months doing the exact opposite behavior.

Intentions, on the other hand, allow for a little more wiggle room. We are inviting a new approach to an area of our life that we feel needs changing. Say perhaps, “I will go to bed earlier.” This is an open-ended request of yourself that is easily achievable. Even if you are in bed a minute before you used to be, you are upholding your agreement to yourself, and will therefore feel empowered, and continue to practice this positive habit. Do you see the difference?

A Kinder Approach

When we take a closer look at intentions, we see that we are exploring a specific desire of how we want to lead our lives. Perhaps our intention is – to be kinder to ourselves.

What does this look like in action? Every time I say something negative about myself, I will increase my self-awareness to first realize I am doing it. That is step #1. I will then take it a step further to replace that behavior by saying two positive things about myself instead.

Doing this practice will actually retrain your brain to have more loving and kind thoughts about yourself on a more frequent basis. It will help your brain to rewire pathways for acceptance and self-love and give less energy and therefore weaken the negative pathways that are keeping you feeling small and not good enough. Pretty cool right?

All you have to do this year sweetheart is start somewhere. Wherever you are is perfect, pick an intention for this month and see how it goes. Then when next month begins, build upon that intention, or if it didn’t work, choose a new one. All you have to do is try.


Kristen Donia is a freelance writer living in a tiny house she built in sunny Southern Oregon. She has a Bachelors Degree in Education and has dedicated her life to studying and writing about empathy, vulnerability and enriching the human experience.