One of the best habits that I picked up a few years ago was setting an intention immediately after I woke up. Rather than grabbing my phone or rolling out of bed, I take 5 deep breaths, acknowledge 3 things that I’m grateful for, and set 1 intention for the day.
My life has shifted so drastically by learning how to set intentions because I wake up and start my day in a positive way.
By learning how to set intentions, you will also find that you have more focus and your actions align with your values.
Most importantly, your intention-setting habit will help you get one step closer to achieving your goals and dreams.
Setting a daily intention takes no more than a few minutes.
In this post, I’ll explain more about what daily intentions are, why they’re important, the differences between goals and intentions, and help you with some examples so you can start today.
What is an intention?
Before you figure out how to set intentions it’s important to understand what they are.
Think of an intention as a road map or atlas that helps guide you towards where you want to be.
An intention can be:
- A tool to guide you through the day as you’re faced with decisions to make
- A reminder of what you want to focus on (because we all know how hard it can be to focus)
- A reminder to stay mindful throughout the day
Setting a daily intention helps me cultivate a certain state of mind, especially since I do it first thing in the morning.
Another intention that I set for myself at the beginning of every year is: “Let go of whatever does not serve you.”
So when I find myself ruminating about a situation and feeling frustrated, angry, or hurt about it, I remind myself about my intention of letting it go because the thought or situation is not serving me.
What is the difference between setting an intention vs a goal?
It’s probably not a big surprise to you, but I’m a big planner. I’m all about setting goals since I have dreams that I want to achieve in the future.
If you’re at a crossroads in your life, setting goals helps you overcome the transitions a little bit easier.
The best way to go about this is to use SMART goals that help you step-by-step.
Moreover, intentions support you to stay committed to those goals and steps because they help you remain focused and grounded.
Another way to think of these differences is that a goal is the desired outcome you anticipate obtaining in your future. An intention is a roadmap of your values to guide you there.
For example, if you value productivity, you would use SMART goals around how you would be productive around a project, whereas your intention would be, “Today, I intend to stay focused and avoid distractions.”
How to set daily intentions
A good way to figure out how to set intentions is to ask yourself questions and then use a journal to jot down your answers.
Here are a few examples:
- How do you want to feel during your day?
- What kind of person do you want to be today?
- What attitude do you want to have towards other people?
- What do you need to commit to in order to live a meaningful life?
- What do you need to focus on to achieve your goals?
- What do you envision the week to look like? Feel like?
- What do you want to cultivate in your life?
- What experiences or qualities do you want to bring into each day?
- What routines do you want to establish?
Once you’ve clarified your intentions, it’s best to state them as positive statements in the present tense so they grasp what you want to create.
For example, when you state a goal, you would say: “My goal is to exercise more.”
On the other hand, stating an intention would be like the following: “My intention is to move my body often, build strength and flexibility.”
See the difference?
How intentions help your well-being
Your intentions might change from day to day, or you might stick to one intention that you use daily.
However, one way to figure out how you set intentions is to consider that you’re prioritizing and making a commitment to yourself.
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Start your Self-care Journey.
Once you’ve set your intention, follow up and evaluate how it relates to your values, goals, and dreams.
In doing so, your intention will remain connected to a greater purpose in your life.
Something that has helped me better understand intentions is that it’s a promise that I make to myself daily. I use them as gentle reminders and guideposts throughout my day.
At the end of my day, I take a moment to reflect on my intention and celebrate what I achieved.
How do intentions help you?
When you are more intentional about how you live your life, it actually gets you closer to living the life of your dreams.
Rather than setting goals for where you want to go, creating intentions shift your attitude and mindset toward how you want to be.
Hence, being intentional can help you be your authentic self.
What are different types of intentions?
Remember that intentions can focus on anything that brings value to your physical, emotional, and mental health.
My top 10 intentions
Here are some examples of daily intentions that I’ve used in the past:
Today, I intend to:
- Stay focused and avoid distractions
- Stand more and sit less
- Stay grounded and present
- Listen to my gut feeling
- Listen more and ask strategic questions
- Be present and listen to my body
- Be proactive, not reactive
- Stay in my heart, not my head
- Prioritize what matters most
- Embrace change in all forms
Practicing mindfulness meditation in the morning is another activity I do to foster my daily intentions. This helps me feel relaxed, focused, and grounded.
In addition, I take a yoga class in the afternoon and limit my use of social media in the evening. All of these activities help me feel more attentive and whole.
Here’s how to make sure you don’t forget your intentions
It’s totally normal if you forget your intention or get distracted by other thoughts or tasks.
You’re human after all!
However, when you’re proactive about how to set intentions, you can remind yourself of them throughout the day.
Here are a few helpful tips to help you remember what your intentions are:
- Write it on a post-it note and put it on your bathroom mirror or computer screen
- Do a screenshot photo and have it as your phone home screen
- Immediately after you wake up say your intention out loud and repeat it throughout the day
- Set an alarm on your phone with the intention as the name for when you hit the afternoon slump
Before you go to bed, take a few minutes to reflect on your intention, how it went and what changes you’d want to make to it for the next day.
Do you now feel inspired to start setting intentions in your life? I hope so since they’ll undoubtedly help you achieve your goals and dreams.
Another way to succeed with your intentions is to share them with people in your life who will support you. You can also visualize the benefits of your positive actions and notice and appreciate those benefits when you experience them.
Keep a journal to reflect on your intentions and how they are taking shape in your life. When you experience a setback in your new routines, be compassionate with yourself. Every new day is a chance to start again.
What experiences have you had setting intentions for yourself? What worked well and what did you find less helpful? Please share your stories and comments below.