How to Set Powerful Intentions That Actually Work
Written by Christoffer Kaltenbrunner
Here's the truth: I used to be a goal addict.
I was constantly chasing measurable results. At one point, I even tracked my days in a sophisticated Excel sheet. My life was about crossing things off from a never-ending todo list.
I needed a change, so one day I decided to shift my focus from goals to intentions. It's a subtle change, but it made me both productive and happy.
While goals bring our attention to the future, intentions pull us into the present. So how can we make the most of it?
The Power of Intentions
If you're not familiar with intentions, you can think about it as a guiding principle that you want to structure your life around. Rather than focusing on the destination, you focus on the journey.
Another way to think about it is as a compass. You know in what direction to go, but the rest is up to you: There are many different tracks to take -- they all lead to the same destination -- but it doesn't really matter what you choose since the journey is what is important.
What makes intentions so powerful is that it brings mindfulness and purpose into your everyday life. It helps you to refocus, too.
How to Set Intentions that Work
Setting an intention means deciding on a specific direction. Sometimes it come easily. Other times... not so much.
Intentions can be set on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. For example, you can set intentions first thing in the morning and come back to it throughout the day.
You can always follow this simple three-step process to set intentions:
- Connect to yourself. Setting intentions starts with figuring out what you stand for by connecting to your values.
- Decide on a guiding principle. When you have figured out your why, you can decide on a principle that will guide you in your everyday life.
- Set your intention. Finally, set your intention by writing it down, saying it out loud or just keeping it in your mind.
You can come back to your intention any time during the day by checking in on yourself. If you easily forget to check in on yourself, try to place reminders around you: at your computer, your desk, on the refrigerator, in your phone... at all places you visit often.
Sometimes intentions become more clear after weeks, months or even years. For example, when I started Questionism in February last year I had a vague idea of what I wanted it to become. Instead of setting out a specific goal and a comprehensive plan to reach it, I decided to set an intention. Since I focus on the journey, I find it much more enjoyable rather than if I was chasing numbers.
From Goal-Oriented to Intention-Oriented
One easy way to become more intention-oriented is to translate your goals into intentions.
For example, if you goal is to lose weight and build muscle, shift your focus to making healthy lifestyle choices like walking and lifting weights. If your goal is to meditate for ten minutes every day, shift your focus to feeling calm and centered by practicing daily meditation.
By shifting your focus from goals to intentions, it's not about chasing results anymore; it's about living every moment.
Put It Into Practice
Intentions are a powerful tool when used right.
To get the most out of your intentions, try keep them short. By keeping your intention short you can use it as a statement you say to yourself whenever you get on the wrong track. For example, "I am calm, centered and focus" is a wonderful intention that also works great as a personal statement.
Also, try to keep your intentions positive. "Be calm" is better than "stress less." Keeping your intentions positive will carry over and bring positivity into other parts of your life as well.
And one last thing... As with anything with life, intention setting needs practice. Get into the habit of setting intentions first thing in the morning and you'll see why it's worth it.
Published on 2021-01-03