One simple definition of an intention is "an aim or purpose, something you plan to do or achieve." An intention can also function as a commitment to yourself and to your well-being, as a guide, and as a reminder of what matters to you most.
The act of merely setting a daily intention might seem too simple or small to be effective, but there's actually a lot of power in determining and declaring how you intend your day to go.
It only takes a couple of minutes each day, generally in the morning, to stop and think about what you can do to meet your goals. So how do you start setting daily intentions? And what can you expect to happen once you do?
Benefits of Intention Setting
Gain a greater sense of control
Intentions are all about stating what you hope and intend to experience and feel. In essence, an intention-filled life is active, rather than passive, since it puts you in the driver seat.
When things aren't going your way or as planned, you can use your intent to avoid feeling helpless or like a victim. Instead, your aim for that day (or week or year, if you prefer) allows you to operate like a "conscious creator," particularly if you focus on the things you can control.
The bottom line is that intentions provide accountability and encourage you to live life on purpose. Having an end goal in mind encourages you to make thoughtful decisions and to change course when needed, instead of allowing others and your circumstances to determine your mood or your path.
Promote positive thinking
Intentions can help you to remain optimistic even when life throws you inevitable curve balls.
You're more likely to feel calm, cool, and collected once you've thought through your biggest goals and aspirations, since doing so helps to keep things in perspective and helps you to squash unwarranted fears.
Instead of getting stressed out over the little things, you can more easily keep your focus on the big picture. And when your actions align with your intentions, you'll also gain a greater sense of confidence, which in turn often leads to even more good things coming your way.
Improve mindfulness and gratitude
We're much more likely to pay attention to the outcomes of our behaviors and to be more present in general when we're working towards a specific task or purpose.
For example, if you’ve declared your goals precisely, there's a better chance you'll notice when little things go your way and push you towards meeting them.
If you tend to operate on "autopilot" and overlook the simple joys in life—or you find yourself worrying about the future or stressing over the past—then being more intentional is a great way to start living more mindfully.
How to Set Daily Intentions
The best types of intentions are said to be both "specific and actionable." So while vague intentions (such as "to feel happy and positive") might not be a waste of time, you’ll get more benefit by pinpointing specific desires and goals.
In addition to being detailed, it helps to create positive, empowering intentions rather than those that are negative or out of your control. So instead of stating, "I won't use social media today," you can state "I will spend any down time I have today reading an uplifting book."
According to experts, here's how to begin setting daily intentions:
First identify goals that align with your values. Pay attention to why you want something to happen: what are you hoping to gain or feel? Some examples of positive intentions include: "I will eat nourishing meals that lift my energy today," "I will stay present when talking to my kids," or "I'll practice patience when commuting to work."
Write down your intention every day and/or say it outloud. Research suggests that goals written down are more likely to come to fruition, since expressing them helps to add both clarity and accountability.
Intentions/goals are considered to be the most powerful and impactful when they are shared with others, which further boosts motivation to see them through. Consider writing your intention down on a post-it and putting it somewhere public in your home, or sharing your goals with a family member or best friend, or even on social media.
It's up to you how often you choose to create new intentions, but making it a regular practice will likely lead to the best results. You might set an intention every morning when you wake up, or use a nighttime journaling or meditation practice to help you identify areas of your life in which you desire to be more intentional. To keep things fresh, try to think about different aspects of your life when coming up with new intentions, including your relationships, career, finances, health, and leisure.