I prefer the idea of setting and focusing on our intentions rather than resolutions. Intentions seem to frame our interests and goals in a positive, forward-moving direction while resolutions seem to suggest we are attempting to address a negative in our life by making a decision to not repeat past unwelcome behavior. For example, I intend to devote more time to reading for both fun and work each week. I can easily look at my calendar and insert time for my intention. With a resolution, my self-talk may sound like this; ‘I didn’t make enough time for reading last year, and it’s important, so I should make sure I read more this year.’ A resolution is easily connected to a previous lack.
An intention is powerful, especially when written on paper and reviewed every day, several times a day. What we focus on expands and we often spend our days running around with ideas circling in our minds wildly. Settling down and focusing on our intentions increases our success!
Intentions can be a part of any therapy, and definitely couples counseling. Changing habits and behavior starts with our thinking. Setting detailed goals for our relationship, and outlining clear steps on how to move forward is a great task for couples. Often the changes we wish to see are intangible and subjective and putting it onto paper helps to clarify where we are and where we wish to go.
I encourage all couples to begin to talk about a vision for the future, areas of growth and concern, and setting intentions for how to create the best future possible. It’s so easy to get stuck in a problem-focus view — try shifting to expanding on creating the next best year of your relationship! We can help with this and is something easily integrated into our couples and marital counseling, along with individual therapy.