The Difference Between New Year’s Resolutions and Creative Intentions

Monday motivator

Last year, a wide-ranging reserach project found that almost 90% of people break New Year's resolutions within days or weeks. Thousands of smaller studies agree. And we all know it ourselves.

Yet the research also consistently shows that those who do make resolutions are more successful in creating what they want than those who don’t.

New Year's resolutions rely on … well…. resolution. Willpower. Yet tons more psychological research–as well as all sages worth their salt–assert that willpower is only fractionally as powerful as the imagination.

I agree. I've seen countless other creative entrepreneurs try both ways and can confidently say: If you’re looking for a better way than resolution, you’ll find it in creative intention.

So what's the difference?

Creative Intention:

 Creative Intention Acknowledges The Unconscious

  • New year’s resolutions require effort and discipline.
  • A creative Intention understands that human behavior is driven not just by our conscious minds but also by the unconscious and subconscious. It values those less conscious workings, mysterious as they are, and works with intuition, insight and inspiration, knowing they are more powerful than willpower.

Creative Intention Selects High Value Priorities

  • New Year's resolutions usually come in a list, wanting to “fix” everything that's wrong with us.
  • A creative Intention recognizes that we can have anything we want only when we accept that we can’t have everything we want. It sets intention within the framework of  truest values and highest priorities.


Creative Intention Emphasises The Positive

  • New year’s Resolutions are framed as negative injunctions (“I'm going to stop wasting time on Facebook”) and based on self-judgements and criticism (“I'm a lazy good-for-nothing who can't focus”).
  • A creative Intention starts as a positive proposal, an opening to something you’d enjoy. (“I’d love to see this book published in 2018.”)

Creative Intention Harnesses The Imagination

  • New year's resolutions depend on willpower.
  • A creative Intention agrees with Albert Einstein: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Creative Intention Accepts You As You Are

  • New year’s resolutions see you as flawed, in need of fixing, and the motivation for change is shame and guilt.
  • A creative Intention recognizes that you are good enough as you are, that your desires and wants are there to lead you to what you most need to know. “Instead of coming from a place of judgment and pressure, come from a place of curiosity and meaning,” says Randy Taran, founder of Project Happiness. “[Ask] ‘What would it be like if… This matters because…' Instead of making lofty and long-term goals that are not sustainable, set up some baby steps which allow you to feel good about being in the process of moving forward. Focus on something for a month or two. Some research says it takes 21 days to change a habit, some suggests 66 is the magic number. The point is, you get better at whatever you practice.”

Creative Intention Is Flexible

  • New year’s resolutions are determined and fixed, aiming to control and contain your behaviour.
  • A creative intention focusses on expressing your deepest self and recognizes that creation is a process of surrender, not control.

Creative Intention Relishes The Process

  • New year's resolutions are future based. When I get or do this, that or the other, I'll be happy.
  • A creative intention focusses on now, recognizing that how you create is as important as what you create. The process is valued as much as the end product. If not, what you're mostly creating is unhappiness.

Creative Intention Is In For the Long Haul

  • New Year’s resolutions go in one year and out another” said Oscar Wilde.
  • A creative intention is held in place until it is fulfilled or the desire no longer exists.

How are your New Year resolutions going?

Is it time you switched to creative intention? If yes, go here for lots of free tools and tips on how to do just that.


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