Setting daily intentions is a powerful way to clarify who you want to be, how you want to spend your time, and what you want to offer to the world. When we craft intentions, it helps us zero in on what we want more of in our life. Moreover, positive intentions can help us take action with self-compassion rather than the sense of pressure that goals create.
“Intentions set the stage for positive growth and change, because we’re making a choice to pay attention to something we deem worthy,” says Kristin Wilson, MA, LPC, Newport Academy’s Chief Experience Officer.
What Is an Intention?
An intention is a motivation or road map that guides us toward where we want to be. Daily intentions can support you in cultivating a positive outlook and bringing more focus and clarity into your day-to-day life.
Living an intentional life can also be a way to get closer to your dreams. Rather than setting goals for where you want to go, creating intentions shifts your attitude and mindset toward how you want to be. Hence, being intentional can help you be your authentic self.
Examples of Intentions
Intentions can focus on anything that matters to you and supports your well-being. Teens might set positive intentions to be kinder and more forgiving to themselves. Or they might focus on how they relate to others. Hence, their intention might be to connect more with a sibling or to bring positivity to their interactions at school or work. An intention can be specific, such as taking a walk outside every day. Or it can be general, like seeing the good in people.
Kristin Wilson’s daily intentions focus on being more present in her life. To foster those intentions, she does daily meditation, yoga, and journaling. “This helps me reflect on the moments and people I’m grateful for,” she says.
How to Set an Intention
To be intentional, ask yourself what 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, phrase them not as goals but as positive statements that encapsulate what you want to create. State your intentions in the present tense.
Goal: Exercise more.
Intention: “I intend to move my body to build strength.”
Goal: To be more thankful for everything I have.
Intention: “I intend to see the good around me.”
Goal: To eat better.
Intention: “I intend to have a healthy relationship with food.”
Try visualizing your positive intentions, which has been shown to increase success. For example, for the intention “I have a healthy relationship with food,” imagine what that would feel and look like. How would you notice it in your everyday life? What choices would you make as a result of that intention?
Write down your intention and put it where you can read it throughout the day as a reminder. Return to it regularly to reconnect with the meaning and motivation behind it.
Tips for Sticking to Positive Intentions
Psychologist Richard Wiseman, author and professor at the University of Hertfordshire, studied the success of New Year’s resolutions. As part of the 2007 study, he tracked 3,000 people and discovered that only 12 percent of them achieved the goals they had set for themselves. Further, Wiseman examined what the successful people had done differently. Here’s how to use his research to manifest intentions.
- Rather than setting daily intentions based on what you think you should do, think about what you really want to bring into your life.
- Apply your intentions to daily actions that are easily achievable.
- Share your intentions with people in your life who will support you.
- 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.