• Irene Summers Temple

This is Why I Don’t Make Resolutions, I Set Intentions

Updated: Oct 3, 2019


I never make New Year’s Resolutions. They just seem like a good way to start the year off disappointing myself. Lose weight, gain muscle, start doing this, stop doing that. Just to look back in February and realized I’ve made little to no progress. No thanks. Instead, I set intentions.


Last year, my intention was Evolution. My BFF even got me a cute bracelet. My intention wasn’t to set a bunch of goals, even though thoughtful goal setting is a great idea. I just wanted to approach the year with this word in mind. I wanted to welcome change into my life. And that’s exactly what I did. My life changed, my business changed, my attitude changed. I evolved. Not every day and every moment was an astounding life shattering adaptation. But the overall picture was shifting. I was seeing opportunities to grow and learn, and you know what, I found them.


When you set your intentions, you make yourself more likely to see opportunities to fulfill those intentions, everywhere. I started reading the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo (KonMari). And in true Irene fashion, I got 46% of the way through the book before I misplaced it. But I never forgot about the book or the principles I read about (46% of the way through the book).



I’ve been a pack rat and clutter bug for my entire life. I used to love watching the show Hoarders and attended a training on treating hoarding with my husband and colleagues. One hour into the training I turned to my husband and asked if this was an intervention. He quietly reminded me that it was my idea to attend the training and suggested that I try to learn something. (Insert side-eye emoji) 😒


I’ve always been drawn to learning about organizing, finding cleaning hacks, and the idea of purge unneeded belongings. I also struggle to get rid of things. I do not believe I meet the criteria for a diagnosis, but I also own a DSM (because I’m a psychologist) and am conveniently not going to look up the diagnostic criteria. In fact, I don’t like having a lot of things. I am easily overwhelmed by too much stuff, too much visual and auditory stimuli, and too many options. I prefer a simpler life. But I am also disorganized, misplace things and don’t get rid of things I no longer need…a walking contradiction.


I keep papers, because I am indecisive and don’t want to make a quick decision about whether or not I need something. I keep books because I will want to read it “someday” (which never comes). I keep containers, because I’ll want to store something in it “someday” (which sometimes works out satisfyingly well). I keep clothes because, it’s better to keep it than to wish I had it and realize I don’t…even though I never wear it and don’t really like it. You get the picture.


My home and office appear mostly under control and no one (except my husband) would ever think it’s a problem. But it is, not because my home is unclean or my office is unsightly. It’s a problem because I am keeping things without being intentional. In KonMari’s book she explains that our belonging should “spark joy.” We should intentionally keep the things we have because we choose them. They serve a purpose in our lives. They spark joy, or make our lives simpler and happier in some way. And we owe our belongings respect, from the way we fold and handle our things, to the way we store them.


Oh! That's satisfying!

Not only do our belongings deserve our respect, but we also deserve respect. In setting intentions in our lives, we are honest with ourselves about what we need and how we intend to honor ourselves, by seeking and welcoming those things into our lives. My intention in 2019, is to be intentional (meta!). I set the intention, to act with integrity in my work, and compassion in my relationships. I will be present with the people, animals, belongings, and world in which I interact. When I am somewhere, I will be there. When I am with someone I will be with them. This includes myself. I owe it to myself to be purposefully present with the person with whom I spend the most time.


How can you welcome intentionality into your life? Are you moving through life on autopilot, or are you present with your loved ones, colleague, pets, yourself?

Irene Summers Temple, PhD is a licensed Counseling Psychologist in private practice at Irene Summers Temple, PhD LLC in Rapid City, SD. She specializes in multicultural counseling, coaching, and consultation, serving helping professionals, People of Color, and LGBTQ+ individuals, fostering mental wellness and identity development.

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