(Article Updated Feb 20th, 2024)
Setting intentions is a powerful practice. It allows you to reflect on your day-to-day life, and create new habits that will serve your purpose. Our thoughts and actions direct us towards creating our reality.
I’ve been practicing the art of setting intentions, and it is one of the most powerful ways to align with the person you want to be. When we set an intention for ourselves, we must use our imagination to see what this future version of ourselves will look like in order to get there. This is about creating a vision.
You may be wondering how you could start setting intentions and take part in this practice, or if it may be beneficial for you to begin doing the same. Let’s explore the process of setting intentions, how to set them, examples, and more below:
What is the Process of Setting An Intention?
The practice of setting intentions is incredibly simple. This process allows you to take a moment and think about what it is that you want in life, and what steps need to be taken in order to get there.
For example, if my intention is to make getting promoted at work a priority this year, I would think about the steps I need to take in order to get there. I’d want to set a clear goal for myself, and then create a plan on how I can accomplish that goal.
In other words, an intention is a way of describing your dream in the form of an action step. It should be a positive statement about a life you would love to live or a goal you would like to achieve, which you feel compelled to do.
Setting intentions is a bit different from setting goals. A goal is a plan or commitment you make to achieve something in the future. An intention serves more as a guide, a purpose you want to manifest and put out there into the world.
People set intentions that tend to align with their values, leading to their desired outcome. They want to place focus on what matters, and less on what doesn’t.
This is what is so VALUABLE about setting intentions.
For example, an intention you have could be that you would like to read more.
What is the why behind this intention? A goal would simply be “Read one book each month.” But an intention is “ Read to acquire new knowledge and boost personal growth.” Do you see the difference?
It kind of takes away the pressure and clarifies the purpose of the act.
How to Start Setting Intentions
I’m going to provide you with a few steps on how you can start to set intentions. You can follow these steps or create a system of your own, whichever suits you best.
1. Reflect on What You Value
The first step in setting an intention is to take a moment and reflect on what you value. Write down all the things you cherish. Some examples of values are Authenticity, Courage, Friendship, Mindfulness…
Reflecting on your values and what matters to you, will help you to see things more clearly. This allows you to set your intentions that align with your values and purpose in life, leading you closer to defining your needs and desires.
2. Write Them Down Daily, Monthly, and Yearly
Write down your top 10 lifetime intentions. You can write these down in the morning to set the tone for the day, or at night before bed. If you feel more inclined, setting an intention is something you can do with each passing season.
It may be setting a new habit at the beginning of the year or season that will help you accomplish your life vision. Something you can do every month to help create what you would like in life is setting an intention for the month…
You could think about setting different intentions each day of the week. This would be setting your top 3 daily intentions that are most important to you. Give yourself 10-20 minutes each morning to reflect on these. Taking this time to set your intentions for the day will help you stay mindful of what matters (and away from distractions).
Steps like these allow you to focus on setting intentions that are in alignment with who you are and what makes your heart glow with happiness. They keep your mind present, making it easier to act on them, rather than setting them and forgetting about them because they seem too overwhelming. When setting intentions, it’s important to make sure they are in alignment with your core values and desires.
3. Revisit Your Intentions Each Month
At the beginning of each month, set a few intentions that you’d like to carry out over the next 30 days. Revisit your list and spend time setting daily (and/or weekly) intentions that will help you accomplish these life desires.
As I mentioned before, referring back to your intentions is helpful in many ways. Doing monthly check-ins, allows you to review the intentions you set and even change the ones that no longer align with your potential path. Changing intentions is a natural process, given that we grow and change with time.
Some intentions we had set in the beginning of the year may not align with who we are towards the end of the year. And that’s OK, a little re-adjusting of those intentions will do the trick.
7 Tips for Setting Intentions
What are some good intentions to set for yourself? I like to keep the following questions in mind when it comes to setting my personal intentions:
1. Will it have a positive influence on my life?
Take a moment to think about setting intentions that will positively influence your life. This is important because setting good intentions that won’t benefit you in some way is something I like to call “wasting your energy on setting an intention for no reason.”
Setting positive intentions is important as it sparks hope for a better future. It allows us to form a positive relationship with our intentions and the process.
2. Is it attainable?
Part of setting positive intentions that are good for us is setting attainable intentions. If you are setting an intention that is unrealistic to reach, it can be demotivating. Aiming high but staying realistic will help you stay motivated and on track with your goals, making them more attainable in the long run.
Setting intentions that are far-fetched or out of our reach could have the opposite effect and cause you to begin distrusting the process and yourself. Keep in mind that these intentions may simply take time to manifest, and embrace that time.
3. Is this the best use of my time right now?
This is something that I like to ask myself on a daily basis. Setting intentions takes time and energy, so setting them that align with your priorities is important. This will help you stay focused on what matters most instead of setting intentions for the sake of setting them (which doesn’t help anyone).
This may sound like an “obvious” tip, but setting intentions that help you prioritize your time is important for setting intentions that are truly beneficial.
4. What is my why?
Why do you want to set an intention? Why is setting this intention important enough for you to take some time out of your busy schedule?
For me, setting intentions that support my why serve as a reminder as to why I wanted to make some changes in the first place. In setting those intentions, I’m also setting the groundwork for a better life.
Your why is what will keep you going when setting your intentions starts to become challenging Reveal your true purpose in your intentions and be 100% honest with yourself. Rely on your why to see them through to the end.
5. What will it take for me to set an intention?
What is going to motivate you? Is setting a timeline enough? Will setting a reward once your intention is complete keep you motivated through the process?
Setting intentions that have a strong payoff attached can help keep you on track. For example, setting the goal of getting 10 hours of sleep each night is setting yourself up for success because you know that setting this intention will reward you by reconnecting with your body’s natural sleep rhythm.
6. What small steps can I take to set an intention?
Having good intentions is only the first step in manifesting change in our lives, but it takes practice and dedication to see them through. The best intentions are backed up with actionable steps that make setting them a priority in your life.
Setting small steps for yourself will be the difference-maker when it comes to setting and seeing them manifest because setting them can be a daunting task in itself. Sometimes setting intentions may feel like we’re just wishing for something, but adding step-by-step actions to accomplish them will keep you motivated and on track with your goals.
Start setting small, achievable intentions that you can see yourself completing in due time.
7. How will setting an intention help me?
This is a great question to ask yourself when it comes to this process. This helps you ensure that it serves its purpose in your life. For example, setting the intention of becoming more mindful helps us live better in the present moment and become less caught up with what’s happening around us.
Setting an intention that helps us become less stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed is setting an intention that will benefit our overall well-being. For example, setting the intention of finding a way to offset your stress in the moment helps you combat stress when it happens and not later on in life.
The Importance of Setting Intentions in Your Life
Why is it important to begin setting intentions? Studies show that setting intentions have many benefits to our well-being.
Here are some of the major benefits of setting intentions:
· Helps us develop a healthy relationship with ourselves through setting goals that are aligned with what we want for our lives. Our time is valuable, so setting intentions help us focus on self-care more than anything else in setting a better direction for our lives.
· Helps you develop a better sense of self-awareness, which helps you understand what is going on in your day-to-day life and how setting intentions can change that. In setting an intention, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to improve the quality of your daily life.
· By setting intentions, you can set a goal but also make a plan to reach it. This not only helps us become more successful in setting and accomplishing goals but setting an intention sets the foundation for our actions moving forward because we have a bigger picture in mind to work towards.
· Helps us see what’s important in setting the right intentions for ourselves. By setting our intentions, we are setting a clear path towards what to let go of and what to embrace because by setting an intention, it’s saying that it is important to you. Setting this vision also helps us stay committed because it shows us why it’s important.
· Setting intentions allows you to work on your strengths and weaknesses, but setting an intention that gives you room for growth helps you become more flexible when it comes to the changes you want to make. This is setting what is called a “vision of self” because you’re setting an intention to take time in setting the direction you want to go. With setting intentions, your time is valuable so when setting an intention, it should align with who you are as a person in the future.
· Helps motivate us when setting intentions because they give us something to work towards in life that helps us improve the quality of our lives. This gives us a sense of purpose in setting an intention, which helps us focus on setting a clear path towards the direction we want to go.
A List of Examples of Intentions
Let’s explore some examples of intentions, you can borrow these intentions if they align with your values and add your own personal why, or simply serve as a starting point.
1. I will be mindful and present when spending time with loved ones.
2. When setting boundaries, I will speak my truth kindly and respectfully.
3. I will create positive outcomes by avoiding blame and criticism in family conversations.
4. I will speak up about my needs and what makes me uncomfortable.
5. I will listen to others without judgment, allowing them the space to be heard.
6. When setting boundaries, I will speak my truth kindly and respectfully.
7. I will wait until an appropriate moment before making decisions based on anger or other negative emotions.
8. I will speak kindly to myself in all situations, knowing that I am doing the best I can.
9. When setting boundaries, I will speak my truth kindly and respectfully.
10. I will ask for help when needed while still allowing others to be independent.
It’s so easy to wander mindlessly throughout life and lose track of our direction and purpose. We often forget our “why” and get caught up in constant distractions that take us away from this.
Setting intentions is a powerful practice to get you back on track and define your life, instead of letting it define you.
What are some intentions you want to set? Are you ready to get started defining what truly matters in your life and the life you want to live? Share in the comments below!