What are Intentions?
Intentions are commitments and guiding principles that you can carry with you in your mental toolbox to choose your perspective on reality and how you show up in the world. They are clear statements that you make on a daily basis to keep you focused on the desired outcome. Intentions act as a guide for your decisions, attitude, emotions, beliefs, thoughts, and daily habits. Every aspect of your life can be guided by your intentions if you create them thoughtfully and maintain your focus on them. In this article, we will dive into how you can properly set intentions to see significant impacts on your life and overall well-being.
Why are Intentions Important?
Since intentions can act as a guide towards your ideal outcome, they can create massive shifts in your daily life. Without intentions, we often tend to conform to our external environment and go through the motions without deliberately making choices for ourselves. If you do not have personal intentions that keep you focused, you may find yourself feeling scattered and unmotivated.
Intentions keep you in alignment with your desires and goals by providing a structure that you can base your decisions and actions around. They allow you to make conscious choices about your current reality and keep you productive by reminding you of what is important to you.
Intentions allow you to connect with your inner world and navigate a path to get you exactly where you want to be. Since we are surrounded by distractions, temptations, and the opinions of others daily, it can be easy to feel disconnected from ourselves. If you start the day with a clear vision that comes from within, you can utilize it as a guiding light when distractions come up.
One of the most important benefits of setting a clear intention for your day is that it keeps you accountable. For example, if you are trying to stay active and exercise daily but have no clear intentions on where this will take you, you will be much more likely to skip out on the small stepping stones like going to the gym that one day. Intentions keep you in alignment with your short-term or long-term goals because you understand that the smaller daily steps will guide you along a successful path.
How to Set Intentions
Below are a few strategies that you can use to identify clear intentions that align with your unique vision and your most authentic self.
1. Ask Yourself Questions
If you are having a difficult time creating a clear intention and are not sure what you want to accomplish, there are tons of prompts and questions you can ask yourself to allow your intuition to come through. Here are a few examples:
- What are some things you are passionate about?
- What do you find your mind wandering to frequently throughout the day?
- Are there any aspects of your life where you feel out of alignment? Disconnected? Afraid or limited?
- What does your ideal life look like? (Be descriptive)
- What motivates you? When do you feel most alive?
2. Write Down Intentions in a Journal
There is overwhelming evidence that proves that writing down your goals, intentions, and visions makes you more likely to succeed. In fact, a Harvard Business Study found that participants who wrote down their goals were 42% more successful than those who just thought about them.
When you write down your intentions, you are able to hardcode them in your brain and look at them as a constant reminder or commitment to yourself. Seeing your intention on paper also allows your brain to read it over and visualize it in your mind.
3. Create a Daily Mantra
A daily mantra can be very powerful for remembering your intention throughout the day when distractions arise. A mantra can be a few words or a phrase that triggers your mind to remember your intention. Saying them out loud a few times per day can be very powerful to stay committed. When you notice yourself thinking of negative thoughts or limiting beliefs, replace them with your mantra to keep yourself in alignment.
Meditation while thinking about an intention you are committing to can be extremely powerful for visualizing your goals. When you have a clear intention and can visualize where it will take you, your subconscious mind will naturally lean towards decisions and actions that are in alignment. Meditating after setting an intention will allow you to make space for connecting to your inner world and keep you mindful and present throughout the day.
Examples of Intentions
Below is a list of intentions and related actions that you can use to help guide you when setting your intentions. Read each intention and notice if anything speaks to you. You can then alter them to get specific and clear on how they can guide your own life and your daily choices.
- Connecting with others
- Call a friend
- Text a friend to tell them you are thinking of them
- Set up a date to meet with a friend you haven’t seen in a while
- Make eye contact/smile at a stranger
- Connecting with yourself
- Lean in and analyze thoughts as they come up
- Make space for meditation and silence
- Put time on your calendar for self-care
- Spend less of your time on your devices to allow time for thought
- Write in a journal daily
- Staying Calm
- Guided meditation when you first wake up
- Listen to peaceful music
- Notice the breath
- Deep breathing in the morning
- Nature walk
- Staying Focused
- Make a to-do list for the day before starting your tasks
- Pick three important things to accomplish today and check them off as you go
- Put your phone in another room for an hour of the day
- Make time each week for goal-setting (long-term and short-term)
- Being Present
- Go for a mindful nature walk
- Mindful body scan (here is an example)
- Eat each meal mindfully and away from distraction
Intentions and the Five Koshas
The five koshas, or layers of being, have a direct correlation with the intentions you set for the day. You can leverage your intentions to tend to each of the five koshas which will align you with the highest version of yourself. Below are examples of intentions that can help you make choices based on each kosha so that you can show up for yourself feeling empowered, confident, and healthy in all aspects of your life.
Annamaya (physical self):
- Staying Active
- By committing to some form of movement each and every day, you will naturally feel motivated to exercise over time. Remember Newton’s first law of motion: “A body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion.” Staying committed to your physical health will keep you productive and will positively impact the other koshas.
- Eating Healthy
- Eating to nourish your body with fresh and unprocessed foods keeps you connected to yourself and gives you the energy you need to perform in all aspects of your life. When you tend to your physical layer of being, you will also feel better mentally.
- Incorporating Breathwork
- By incorporating a breathing exercise into your morning routine, you will notice that you naturally feel more energized for the day. When you focus on controlling the breath, you are better equipped to handle situations and stay calm when things occur in your external world. Staying in control over your breath is crucial for mental clarity and reducing stress.
- Making Space for Silence
- Allowing yourself to truly sit with your thoughts is one of the most powerful things you can do to improve mental health. With time in silence, you can process your emotions, identify your priorities and desires, and release limiting beliefs.
- Detaching from Thoughts
- We often attach a feeling or emotion to everything we see, think about, and our daily actions. While this can be important to guide us, it can leave us feeling out of control and drained. By practicing non-judgment, you can take the driver’s seat and be in control of your thoughts. You can analyze your emotions and thoughts from an outside perspective to identify what is serving you and what is holding you back.
- Showing up in Authenticity
- When you set clear intentions and understand your unique desires and passions, you can shape your actions and thoughts around your most authentic self. This means making decisions for yourself and rather than trying to fit in with society.
Staying True to Your Intentions
Staying true to your Intentions is what allows you to consciously shift your reality and see massive transformations in your life. This means sticking to the commitments and promises you make to yourself and following through with the actions you are taking towards your goals. An important way to keep yourself accountable is by journaling at the end of each day to reflect.
Your reflections can include where you felt in and out of alignment, the things you accomplished that day, and where you are most proud of yourself. This will keep you connected to your inner world and motivated to take on the small stepping stones throughout each day.