Intentions versus Resolutions graphic with champagne glasses and clock

What’s the difference between intentions versus resolutions when it comes to your goal to tell more family stories in 2021.

I’m usually all rah rah about the starting the new year out right with a small, doable list of resolutions. But 2020 has been a long, hard year. So far 2021 has too.

For many of us, coping with the pandemic, isolation, lack of isolation brought on by 24/7 exposure to family “co-workers” and kids that need home-schooling, and 1001 Zoom meetings is enough. And that doesn’t even include any other stresses or anxieties we may have.

As I discussed in this December 2020 episode of GenFriends, usually to-do lists motivate me. This year, the thought of one sends me into paralysis.

I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t have any goals for 2021, or that you shouldn’t tell more family stories. You should, but …

Know Thyself: Deciding between Intentions versus Resolutions

There are people I know, who have taken every spare minute of the COVID-19 shutdown to do amazing creative projects, clean out every closet and niche in the house, or other things that make me feel like a total sloth in comparison.

There’s nothing wrong with that, no matter what the little green guy on my shoulder says. And if those people find themselves energized and inspired by resolving to do new, better projects, more power to them.

Would a concrete list of family story projects work for me right now? Honestly, no.  I don’t need to add the negativity and pressure of comparing myself to them. So, it’s not a wise goal for me. (You can read more about goal setting in Setting — And Sometimes Even Keeping — Goals and Resolutions.)

For instance, slimming down always makes my resolution list. This year, I’m not going to give myself a pound goal. (Partly because our scales broke, and we haven’t replaced it.) Instead, I’m going to strive for healthy habits.  Getting fresh air and exercise. Eating things other than carbs and chocolate. Using a timer when I doom scroll through social media.

This year, I’m also determined to be more intentional about working in familial episodes of the past in the other things I do. If I’m blogging, I can share some. When family gets together, we can go over them and I can make notes. I’ll share memories on social media.


Am I simply resolving to have good intentions?

The German language has a wonderful word, jein. It means yes and no.

I’m suggesting we move our intentions out of a detailed, concrete do-or-die list against which we measure our productivity.  Rather, think about the changes are you trying to bring about in your life. Of course, we all want to be more productive, but there are other considerations.

Make sure that at the end of the day, you’ve not just been busy, but you’ve done things that matter to you. Things that have the potential to make a difference in others’ lives. Things you enjoy. Things that bring others together.

Recounting your memories and sharing your ancestors’ past fulfills all of those.

Your Turn

Has the last year impacted how you set 2021 goals? Where do you come down on intentions versus resolutions?  Please comment below.

Also, tell more family stories.

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