Goals and Intentions: Opening Up Opportunities in 2024 (Part 2)

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It is common to struggle with keeping New Year’s resolutions. In fact, 64% of New Year's resolutions are given up on by January 31st! In Part 1 of this blog post, Edmonton-based Canadian Certified Counsellor, Kelsey Lummer discussed how sometimes we create goals that are hard to attain and seemingly out of reach due to conflicting schedules, busy career responsibilities, and the consistent need to balance family life with everything else. In addition to shifting from hard-to-reach goals to building good habits by way of making intentions, we can also begin to examine how we use language when framing our desires for the future.

Oftentimes, we will set goals for ourselves that are framed in the negative. What does this mean? This means that our goals are created with a negative undertone. For example, ‘I will not go out to eat,’ ‘I will stop drinking alcohol during weekdays’ or ‘I will stop thinking negatively.’ The language used to describe these goals contains undertones of resistance, withholding, and restriction. A tone such as this can emphasize a lack of something, which can prompt further negative-laden language. This type of thinking can reinforce further negative language, which can then influence our emotions and thoughts regarding ourselves and others.

The Shift in Language: Negative to Positive

One thing we can start doing right away is reframing our thoughts (aka goals, intentions, etc.) to be in a positive tone. Instead of ‘I will not go out to eat,’ the shift can be made to ‘I will make a weekly meal plan, grocery list and cook all my meals at home.’ Instead of ‘I will stop drinking alcohol during the weekdays,’ use ‘I will drink tea, coffee, water, and sparkling water on weekdays.’ And lastly, ‘I will stop thinking negatively,’ can be changed to ‘I will practise thinking positive thoughts when I find myself thinking negatively.’ This subtle change in language creates a positive reframe, which can help folks feel motivated to maintain their intentions and habit-forming behaviours. Positive language can emphasize hope, commitment, motivation, and abundance. 

Although these changes in language are seemingly small and subtle, they can make a big impact on our thinking patterns. When we start using language to describe what we can do and are capable of at the moment, we start to strengthen our neural networks around positive thinking. Strengthening these neural networks in our brains can then inspire hope regarding change and ultimately, living the life we want to live. Give it a try!

*A note on toxic positivity:

Although we encourage reframing our thoughts from negative to positive, it is important to note that not all thoughts, ideas, or goals can or should be framed in a positive way. Sometimes, unfortunate things happen and it is important to honour those experiences and situations with the appropriate language. Toxic positivity is a common phrase these days that describes the phenomenon of minimizing challenging and disappointing circumstances, which can then dismiss a person’s lived experiences. Toxic positivity can cause feelings of guilt and shame, and an avoidance of uncomfortable emotions and sensations. Within this blog post, we are aiming to intentionally shift specific language around goals and intentions, while sidestepping any encouragement towards the concept of toxic positivity. 

An Exercise to Help You Get Started

Let’s apply this to the intentions that you created from our blog, Goals and Intentions: Paving Your Own Path in 2024 (Part 1). Review your intentions created, do any require you to avoid doing something or restricting something? If so, consider what the positive frame would be instead? Here we want to identify the actions or behaviors that you want to do instead of the limitation. Next, write out the new intention of what you do want to do. Sometimes we might need a couple of different intentions for one thing and that is totally ok! Once you have the new phrases, write them down and put them up somewhere you can see daily to help remind you of what it is you’d like to do each and every day.


In conclusion, the journey from goals to intentions involves not only breaking free from the common pitfalls of New Year's resolutions but also reshaping our language to foster positive thinking. By reframing statements from restrictive to proactive, such as replacing "I will not" with "I will," we create a positive reframe that enhances motivation and reinforces habit-forming behaviors. Need some extra help making this shift while avoiding toxic positivity? Reach out to us at Holistic Healing Counselling and one of our Edmonton-based trained therapists will get you started!

Welcome to Holistic Healing

Welcome to Holistic Healing

Meet our certified therapists, Adam, Selena, Danielle, and Shaheen. No matter what you want to work on, we have a therapist to help. Our Counsellors focus on helping you feel at ease by allowing you to feel heard and understood. By using a holistic, or whole picture approach, our trained Counsellors can help their patients live a happier, more authentic life. Our therapists offer adult counselling, couples counselling, and adolescent/teen counselling. Interested in learning more? Need to book a session? Contact Us here.


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