If you’re here, you’ve probably heard of intention setting and are curious about how it works.
Can it truly impact your life, or is it just ineffectual self-soothing?
The good news is that setting intentions is a scientifically sound way to support good mental health.
Moreover, people who commit to the practice are more likely to set SMART goals and reach them.
Want to get in on the action?
If so, keep reading — because today, we’re unpacking the ins and out of setting intentions for the day.
What Are Positive Intentions?
Positive intentions are assertions set in the morning that help guide you through the next 24 hours.
The goal is to cement the desired outcome, and the operative word is “positive.”
The word “intend” is powerful. Unlike “plan” or “try,” intend announces a certainty of action backed by fixed motivation.
Ideally, intentions should not be rooted in negativity. It’s important to say what you will do instead of what you won’t do.
For example, instead of going with, “I won’t be lazy today,” go with, “Today, I intend to be active and work hard.”
Practically speaking, intention setting helps:
Signal your desires to your subconscious
Keep you optimistic
Align your best intentions and actions
Ultimately, maintaining a daily intention-setting practice is a tool to help keep you focused, engaged, and optimistic.
What Are the Benefits of Using Daily Intentions?
Many people scoff when presented with the idea of adding intention setting to their daily routine. That sounds silly, they chide — and some may dismiss the idea as new-age mumbo jumbo.
In some ways, they have a point. Intention setting isn’t a magic formula in and of itself. You can’t simply think of something you want, and POOF, it happens. Intention setting involves effort. It’s a mental tool that keeps you focused on what’s essential.
That said, people who set daily intentions are statistically more likely to reach their goals and enjoy better mental health.
The science is complicated, but suffice it to say that human neural pathways respond to thoughts. The more you think about something, the more prominent the associated neural pathways become.
In essence, we are what we believe — and that’s not just a pithy statement; it’s a scientific reality.
Due to the link between neuroplasticity and mental health, intention setting has numerous benefits, including:
Increased harmony with the world and people around you
Better professional and personal direction
Improved confidence and positivity
Enhanced ability to erode perceived limitations and self-doubt
How To Set Personal Intentions for the Day
We’ve discussed what positive intentions are and why they’re beneficial. Now let’s unpack how to go about setting one for the day.
1. Start With a Stretch
Many people leave this part out, but it’s a critical part of the process. Not only does stretching feel great, but it opens up your energy meridians and releases feel-good hormones.
Stretching is a super way to start the day. Don’t worry about doing yoga poses if you’re a beginner. Start with what feels comfortable. Stretch your arms high to the sky; try to touch your toes (but don’t stress if you can’t); lean to the side.
Bonus Tip: Set a three-minute alarm. It’s long enough to get a good stretch but short enough to keep your morning routine moving along swiftly.
2. Tune-In to Your Intuition
The next intention-setting step is tuning into your intuition. Listening to your gut is frequently a good thing. Essentially, your intuition is a signal from your higher self, so listen to what it’s saying.
Some days are better for certain things than others, and your intuition will guide you on that front.
Bonus Tip: Try a few intuition affirmations on for size. For example, “I intend to engage with my family this morning for 15 minutes before leaving for work.”
3. Find Synergy Between Goals and Intuition
Now it’s time to think about your goals. Whatever intention you set for the day should consider intuition and your life goals.
Are you working on building self-esteem? Compassion? Focus?
Once you figure that out, pick an intention that speaks to both your gut and goals.
Bonus Tip: Jot down ideas on paper. Seeing everything written out can be helpful.
4. Set Your Intention
It’s time to set your intention. Pick one that feels most fruitful for the day and say it aloud three times. If you have the time, journal about it or do a 10-minute meditation to let it sink in.
If you figure out your intention before showering, ponder it while cleaning yourself in the morning, and convey the day’s purpose to the rest of your body.
Bonus Tip: The more you think about an idea, the more your brain will accept it as fact. So try to concentrate on your positive intention as much as possible in the morning to “set the mold.”
35 Intentions for the Day To Empower You
Looking for examples of intentions? Below is a list of 35 options. Some may work for you; others may not. Take what resonates and leave the rest.
Today, I intend to:
1. Be my authentic, generous, compassionate, awesome self.
2. Do the best I can with the information I have.
3. Be humble and listen before I speak.
4. Exercise compassion instead of skepticism and judgment.
5. Believe in myself and not listen to nay-sayers.
6. Follow my plan of action to the “T.”
7. Look for growth and learning opportunities if I fail.
8. Release what I cannot control and take responsibility for my thoughts and actions.
9. Remind myself that everyone has an inner life that I know nothing about.
10. Try new things, no matter how fearful I may be.
11. Prioritize love above all else.
12. Honor my feelings, whether good or bad.
13. Live like I’m a badass who knows it, without a hint of shame.
14. Be kind and gentle — with myself.
15. Stay true to my values and beliefs, whether standing with others or alone.
16. Set my own expectations instead of other people’s.
17. Do the hard work of facing my faults.
18. Exercise patience and try to learn from everyone with whom I come in contact.
19. Meditate, be mindful, and remove myself from messes.
20. Allow myself the rest I need.
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21. Confidently ask for a salary that matches my effort.
22. Look on the sunny side of the street.
23. Stand up for myself because I deserve respect.
24. Have faith in the fact that I am enough.
25. Let the little things slide — because, in the grand scheme of things, it’s all little.
26. Encourage my friends, family, and colleagues.
27. Ignore that which doesn’t serve me.
28. Be proud of myself.
29. Walk in my strength unapologetically.
30. Make someone I love smile.
31. Pay attention to my higher self rather than my inner critic.
32. Cling to every ounce of happiness and joy that comes my way.
33. Act as if I’ve already achieved my goals.
34. Prioritize my mental health by balancing my schedule.
35. Be thankful for the little joys life is constantly gifting us.
How To Create Your Own Positive Intentions
You can use pre-scripted intentions or develop your own to fit your exact goals and situation.
How? It’s easy.
First, think about your objectives and aims. Since you’re setting an intention for the day, focus on short-term goals.
Try to carve out 10 minutes to do a brainstorming journal entry. Think about the day ahead and what you want to accomplish — personally, emotionally, or professionally.
Once you have a handle on where you want your day to go, how you want to feel, and what you want to work on, right down a few words that gel with those goals.
Finally, craft a 5 to 15-word statement and write it down three times to cement the sentiment.
Throughout the day, if you feel yourself wandering away from your intention, repeat the words in your head.
Doing so will shut down ruminations rearing their nasty heads and keep your mind in the game.
Creating a daily intentions list is an easy and effective way to supercharge your life.
Trying can’t hurt, but if you don’t give it a shot, you may be missing out on an easy mindfulness tool that could significantly impact your life for the better. Give it a week and see where it takes you.