You may have heard people speak about the benefits and importance of intention setting. You may have even tried to set some for yourself. An intention is an aim or a plan by dictionary definition, rather than a goal itself, it is the driving force to get you to the goal. You can have any goal you like, but without the intention, it is mearly an idea, one that you like but maybe don’t have a way to get to.
We are taught to set goals in our career and personal lives, to set resolutions each year, and for maximum productivity and success we create projects and lists of tasks. How many of us dutifully write out our lists of goals, lists of tickable tasks and endless ‘to-do’s’ but find that we never finish or just feel overwhelled and stuck? Without having an intension in line with our goals, things will feel impossible or too far away and simply remain on the list. It can feel so pointless.
To find ourselves spending our time achieving our goals with ease, we can start setting intentions. Intentions are there to serve you and your happiness. Here are some practical tips on how to set intentions, what this practice can do for you and why it positively affects your life. Since they are set by you, for you, it really is impossible to do them wrong!
By setting intentions, to begin a new phase of your life, you are simply setting the direction for your emotional and physical goals and objectives. You may be looking to refresh a routine, behaviour or reaction pattern. By having a clear direction about what it is you DO want, rather than focusing what you DON’T, you may ultimately find yourself to your goal and target more quickly.
An intention also keeps you on the path in alignment with your purpose, it keeps you true to your beliefs about yourslef and your life. It is the starting point, leading you to find a direct line to the goal you are working towards. You can set intentions for the hour, day, month or year.
For example; “I intend to choose foods that nourish my body and soul” can be your intention for lunch when your goal is to feel more energy throughout the day.
Your intention keeps you focused on what you want and drives the mind to make decisions that will guide and support your end goal.
Studies show that setting an intention affects your behavior and increases your chances of success in attaining your goals. Setting your intention is a powerful practice of declaring your belief in being able to get to where you want to be. When things get busy and you get off track, or you become frustrated, irritated or overwhelmed, simply shift back to your daily intention, believe in the process and see where your energy flows.
Intentions come from your heart, not your head. Use the power of intention to focus on what we want to create, to manifest and grow. Learning how to set an intention is the foundation for a more purpose filled life. So let’s begin….
1. Choose your time and space.
This goes for emotional space as well as physical space. Choose a time when you have a goal you want to work towards and space to be able to listen to your heart. When you are tired and frustrated you may not be able to create an intention that is truly aligned to your best interests. When you feel more open and neutral, that is when you may be able to sit and give yourself the time and respect you deserve.
Create a quiet space to listen to the quiet voice filled with hope and opportunity. The one we dare to listen to sometimes. The one we save for when we remember our childhood dreams and daydreams. Allow it to step forward and be open to listen to want it is you really want.
2. Identify what you want, what makes you happy.
Once you identify what it is you want to bring into your life, whether its gratitude, hope, love, peace, prosperity, wellness, healing or faith and forgiveness. Imagine what this looks in your life. How do you look, feel and act. Picture yourself as already having it, it is already right there for you. Be specific and allow yourself to go with it. Tune out the voice that says ‘no chance’ and instead say ‘why not’. Then write it down. Write down as many of the specifics as possible, as silly as they may seem.
3. Identify what no longer serves you.
It may be easier to actually take note of of what no longer serves you. Think about some of the emotions and behaviour/reaction patterns that are no longer working in your life and in your body. They could be guilt, shame, anger and frustration. All of these are valid emotions that we need, however if they are the only ones we are feeling and they are no longer motivating us then we need to find the ones that help us to take the steps forward rather than staying in freeze and pause.
By identifying what you no longer need or want in your life, you may be free to repeat step 2.
4. Keep focused.
At this point you may have identified a huge list of things that you want. Try to now prioritise that list. Find the focus that will help you to take the first step. this can often be hard work because chosing makes your brain get louder than your heart.
Try to go back to step 1 and find the space to listen to the true want/need. Try to go back to the space you were in in number 2, go back to that image of yourself. Stay in the present, if your mind wanders or keeps listing all blocks you have, try to simply notice your breath without judgement, where does the breath go with out trying to direct it and come back to your point of focus.
5. Keep repeating.
When you have found your focus, set your intention, you can write as many you can come up with. You will know when to stop, when your heart feels content and says ‘yes’. Remember intentions are not lists of things to do, they are more like,
what feeling do I want to have?
what core value or attribute about myself do I want to celebreate?
How do i want to achieve something, with ease with energy, with peace…?
What in my personality will help me to get to where I want to be?
How do I want to see my day today?
When you have the ones that make you feel ready and empowered, write them down and put them where you will see them so you can repeat them. The more you repeat them, the more you remember them and they inhabit your daily life and choices. That is what will help you to get to your goals and give you the energy to feel like life is easier and with more movement and success.
I have put together some worksheets to help you. Download them and see how they help you to build habits that serve you and your goals
At the begining of each week of my 4 week mindfulness class we make an intension for the hour and for the week. Build a habit during the 4 weeks while learning other simple and effective tools that will work in your day to day life. Give yourself a gift of time and support for your mind and body.