Intentions, Vows, and Resolutions

Written by Brad Kauffman, M.A., B.A. Strategic Psychotherapist and Jess Kauffman M.A., B.A. Strategic Psychotherapist

Photo by Justine Milton

As humans, typically, we desire to be the best version of ourselves. In other words, there is a powerful longing to be aligned with our truest self. When we set a resolution, we establish a reference point based on personal aspirations; a type of blueprint that offers concise, well-defined imagery in our mind’s eye. To then create the resolution, means for us to put the idea(s) into tangible action. Together, this pairing (definition + action) helps us to navigate both the what and the how. Breaking this down into parts is helpful for understanding how resolutions play out:

Value + Purpose + Worth

We need to value our resolution, see its purpose, and know its worth is beyond any immediate gratification. Our most fulfilling resolutions often require a delayed gratification strategy. Therefore, we must first break our conditioned, instant fulfillment approach. The most effective way to break this cycle/pattern is through well-defined, specific goals, rooted at the visceral level – to want it so bad we can taste it, so to speak.


Allow the resolution to be the most passionate, sought-after “yes” in life. The focus isn’t so much on what we are “giving up” or not doing; it remains fixated rather on what we ARE doing… what we are gaining, what we are moving towards.


See it, taste it, feel it. We need to be able to envision ourselves having achieved what we want at the depth of sensory input, as though we already have it and are experiencing it. If we want to lose weight for example, we have to move beyond the scale and imagine the way we’ll feel in that size of pants we haven’t been able to fit into for years. We focus on accessing the depth/quality of the experience and the rich value that it possesses. We meditate on our sense of confidence, on our radiance, on rocking it.


Identify the moments of choice, and leverage the discomfort that ensues when our immediate impulses run into our deeper aspirations. This point of internal conflict is the best tool we can use to help us recognize those critical moments of choice.


“Does this move me closer to my goal or further away?” This is the question every action or decision hinges upon.

Break it down

Once the resolution becomes a specific, well-defined goal, reverse engineer it. Break the goal down into projects, and then break the projects down into specific actions. Each manageable action leads to completing a project, each project leads to accomplishing the overall goal.


It’s not a race. Recognize the limits of time and energy, as we stay individually focused on what is reasonable and realistic, and pace accordingly.