Goals are measurable and achievable, but intentions create the foundation to support your goals and align your life according to your priorities. Your intentions remind you about your priorities and how you want to live your life from that place of awareness. This isn’t something you can only do on January 1st like a New Year's resolution, you can actually take stock and set intentions any day of the year, whenever you need to adjust your current path.
How Do You Set Intentions? Here are 5 Simple Ways
1 - Assess the Present and Learn from the Past: Assess where you are right now. Do you feel stressed, unappreciated, rushed? Do you feel you are spending time with the people that matter most and creating memories from a place of intention? Try this short reflection exercise: Think about what got you here, acknowledge your past and learn from it. If you look at the undesirable things that happened, what intentions were you living from at that time? People pleasing? Hanging on to something that is dead?
2 - Create a Vision of the Life You Want: Visualize every detail of how things would be, and how you would feel if you were balanced, happy and in harmony. Where you want to be and who do you want to have in your life? How will you spend your time?
Write down what a perfect day would look like for you and set the intention to live from the same feeling of that place, even if your daily life right now is nowhere close to where you want it to be. You can do this by making a list of situations you want more of, and situations you want less of. For example, more lazy afternoons on the weekends, less time with people who stress you out. More space for relaxing in the morning, less rushing out of the door and driving fast to avoid being late.
Take it a step further and write down how to cope with stressful situations that you can’t avoid. Even within those situations, there are some elements you can control. You may not be able to change how your loved ones talk about certain people, but you can control how you respond to them, which could prompt them to adjust their behavior around you.
Write it down – what can you control, what can’t you control? How will you prepare and deal with it in the moment?
3 - Select a Word or Short Phrase That Matches Your Intentions: You can select a phrase or one word to remind you about how to live a life according to your intentions.
For example, when you feel yourself getting upset with others, and your intention is to have harmonious relationships, you can write the word “harmony” in different places to bring your focus back to your intentions.
Intentions can also be in the form of phrases that remind you what you want, in the form of I will, or I do.
“I spend more time around people who motivate and encourage me”
“I spend my free time doing things that refresh / re-energize me”
“I will practice self-care on a weekly basis”
“I will focus on the big picture with fitness and get back on track if I have an off day”
"I intend to pay more attention to my feelings and moods so that I can have a happier relationship"
How to Effectively Use Your Intentions
4 - Write About Your Experience and Track the Changes You Made to Organize Your Life According to Your Intentions: Write down what you want, the obstacles, and what you will do to manage the situation. Then track it, but don’t criticize yourself. Use it to see what throws you off and how you recover.
Keep track of your day and ask yourself, does your day match your intentions? Does it reflect your priorities? Write down a few sentences about your day as a way to gauge your feelings: For example, “I got a lot done today, but I felt stressed, hungry and overwhelmed”, or “I had so much fun today, I got to have nice long dinner with my friends and I feel happy and recharged.
5 - Reflect on what is working (or reflect on the negative and positive that results from these changes) and adjust as necessary: Do a weekly review of your schedule and see if the activities line up with your intentions. Are the changes in alignment with your intentions? Are you doing more of what you want to do? If so, how are you feeling? Awareness helps you live intentionally, so if you periodically review how you spend your time, you will be able to quickly get on track and live out your intentions.
Soon, setting your intentions will be a habit, and your goals will naturally follow!