Goals and Intentions: Paving Your Own Path in 2024 (Part 1)

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A new year is often associated with setting new goals but did you know that most goals set on January 1st are tossed aside by the end of the month? As January comes to a close, you might be noticing that the New Year's resolutions you set are starting to feel harder to accomplish. Canadian Certified Counsellor, Kelsey Lummer walks you through how shifting your language from goals to intentions might help you to be more successful in sticking to your New Year's resolutions. 

How a Shift in Language Can Help

It is here where we can contemplate changing our language around the idea of ‘goal setting.’ Oftentimes, setting goals can prompt unrealistic expectations and ultimately set us up for failure. This felt sense of failure can cause us to feel discouraged, embarrassed, and disappointed in ourselves. We feel resentful of our goals and we may lose that sense of purpose and hope we rode on at the beginning of the year. 

What may be helpful in this case is to shift the language from ‘goal’ to ‘intention.’ Here’s why:

The term ‘goal’ focuses on the result. This focus on the end result can cause folks to ignore the process it may take to achieve the ultimate goal and be unaware of the steps that may have to take place to achieve it. Although creating high expectations is admirable and a sign of hope, not meeting our own set of expectations can lead to feelings of shame and embarrassment. Here we find ourselves tying our sense of worth and ability to a goal that is difficult to achieve, and end up feeling let down by ourselves and our (albeit good-intentioned) high expectations.

On the other hand, the term ‘intention’ focuses on the process. We shift our perspective about our hopes and look at how we would like to begin to change and sustain that change. Starting with an intention allows us to plan our desired change into smaller increments, breaking down the ultimate goal into sizable steps that are much more manageable and realistic. We weave our expectations into do-able, actionable changes that can be implemented into our daily lives. Slowly shifting our patterns can develop long-lasting habits, which in turn creates lasting change. 

How To Get Started

One way to support yourself in making these new intentions is to determine your overarching goal and then write mini-steps (aka intentions) to start moving in that direction. It may be helpful to imagine your goal at the top of a ladder, and the steps taken to achieve your goal are the rungs of the ladder. 

For example: If your goal is to read X amount of books in the year 2024, your intentions may be:

  • Get a library card or subscription to an online (e-book) platform
  • Explore genres you may or may not want to read
  • Make a list of books that interest you
  • Join a book club
  • Discuss books/titles with friends, family or colleagues
  • Carve out time in your schedule each week to read (even for 15 minutes!)
  • As this habit begins, extend the amount of time you spend reading per week
  • Put a timer on your phone to limit screen time so you’re encouraged to read instead
  • Give yourself permission to put books down that don’t interest you
  • Create a cosy atmosphere where you want to sit down and read (i.e., comfy blanket on hand, warm mug of tea/coffee, locate yourself in a quiet space)

Give it a try! Do you have a desired goal or resolution you’ve been considering for the year 2024? Start by writing it down or discussing the idea with a friend or family member. Then consider various ways you could approach this goal, ensuring that the steps you decide on can be implemented into your daily life, or that the steps build on one another in terms of effort and consistency, as to create habit-forming behaviours and a clearer path to the life you imagine for yourself. 


Moving from setting goals to setting intentions can help shift the focus from the end result to the practical steps needed to accomplish the end result. Focusing on the little steps on the way can also help you increase motivation. Need a bit more personalized help to see what is standing between you and your goals? Reach out to our Edmonton-based team of counsellors today to get started!

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Welcome to Holistic Healing

Meet our certified therapists, Adam, Selena, Juanita, Danielle, Kelsey 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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