Starting your yoga practice or sitting down on a cushion to meditate, we have all heard the phrase set your own intention. Yet, if you are like me when I started my journey into wellness, you don't quite grasp the full scope of what an intention is outside of it being a positive affirmation at most. I am here to debunk intention setting and help guide you on your own everyday practice of setting an intention as you wake up in the morning, altering our perception and setting our best selves forward from the start. When life seems heavy, setting an intention can be that grounding tool that reaffirms where we are in life and what we want to take away from it.
So, what is an intention anyway? While we may think of an intention as a goal; it’s not that. In today’s modern world where our achievements and benchmarks in life are so often hoisted up on a pedestal, it is sometimes easy to get confused.
3 Differences Between A Goal And An Intention:
1. Goals are future oriented. They are meant to motivate us, but can also set the tone that what you currently have or are doing are not enough. This notion, or goal-oriented mindset discounts what you have in the present moment and can often leave you encumbered by striving to constantly achieve. This in turn prompts many individuals to live in fear of failure. Focusing too heavily on a win/lose scenario can saturate your thoughts and can explain why sometimes we fall short at seeing resolutions through.
An intention, on the other hand, is focused on the present moment and is an affirmative statement of what you have already attained or how you are living.
2. Goals are external achievements whereas intentions are about your relationships with yourself and with those around you.
3. Goals serve as a destination or the end result. By setting an intention you are living each day independent from attaining some outcome and are satisfied and attentive in the here and now.
One of the key factors muddying the water is that there is not one precise way to set an intention, but a good way to start is to set aside time for reflection and when applicable, writing those thoughts on paper.
What Is An Intention?
This is the most challenging part of the practice of starting something new, getting clarity on what it is and isn’t and how to go about actually doing it. While stated before, an intention is not a goal, it is easy to liken them to one another.
For me, intentions are more like values or passions. They can be core values or statements of affirmation. They’re less about the destination (goal) and more about helping you to make choices or better navigate life’s challenges when they appear. They are more about who you are and not what you want to be.
Here is an example: Say someone wants to switch out coffee in the morning because they haven’t been feeling well when they drink it.
GOAL: I want to quit drinking coffee.
INTENTION: I nourish my body with ingredients that make me feel vibrant and alive.
Do you see the difference? Goals have the potential to be failures, while intentions reserve the right to try again, to make a new choice that supports the growth or manifestation of the intention in your life. Your intentions are your roadmaps guiding you along the way, and the goal is the final destination, the peak of the mountain, but offering no insight how to climb it. The idea is that intentions are easily integrated into your life and reflect your values which are easy to live by and may change in different periods of your life.
Intention setting has the capacity to change your outlook and ability to manifest the life you wish to live. It is so easy to let a day, a week or a month go by unconsciously living from one moment to the next, but when you set an intention, you are activating your receptivity and putting out to the world that which you intend to make real. Before you may not have always nourished your body with healthy beverages but by the sheer act of setting the intention you are more mindful and aware of what you consume hence making better choices.
Setting intentions is not solely geared toward tangible, physical attainments, it’s also about how you function internally, your internal wealth and abundance. Your wellbeing and sense of grounding can be heightened by the simple act of taking note daily of your growth and those things that matter most.
Where To Start
When you wake up in the morning take a few minutes to just lie in bed awake. Recount the blessings which you are grateful for in life. This positive outlook sets the mood and can roll over into setting a forward-moving intention, that state-of-being or activity you want to embody during the day. Start living it right away. Whether that be looking for ways to be kind to others or setting the intention of living life from a place of abundance or curiosity. Set the intention and work on making it an affirmative action throughout the day, week or month that ultimately becomes you or is attracted to you. Everyday is a new opportunity for growth.