Intentions – A mental state that represents a commitment to carrying out an action or actions in the future. Involves mental activities such as planning and forethought.
As a lover of personal development, setting intentions and learning how to set intentions that best serve you is a good skill to have. Especially with the new year coming up, knowing your intentions can help with achieving your goals.
You may be wondering though, “Aren’t goals and intentions the same thing?”
No, they are not.
Goals are a desired result that a person or a system envisions, plans and commits to achieve: a personal or organizational desired end-point in some sort of assumed development which is different from an intention.
I’m currently writing a post on how to set goals you can actually achieve, so stay tuned for that!
Anyway, I recently won a planner from Sheila, and this planner provided a good distinction between setting intentions and goals for the month.
This distinction can be used for establishing intentions for the year.
I’m going to separate the process of setting intentions for the year into smaller steps. Simple steps.
- Understand your values.
- Set a word for the year.
- Take it one month at a time.
- Live out your intentions every day.
- Forgive yourself if you stumble, because you’re human.
I have a more specific process of how to set monthly intentions because those types of intentions are ones that will shift throughout the months since you will be constantly growing or dealing with something new at the time.
Monthly intentions help you achieve the yearly intention you set out for yourself. But they can also help you develop in other parts of your life where you just want to better yourself, that are not necessarily part of the yearly intention journey. If you’re interested, read more about how to set monthly intentions here.
For yearly intentions, I give you 5 steps so that you are able to learn how to make a yearly intention.
1. Understand your values.
Rather than overwhelm yourself with the intentions you’ll be giving yourself every month for 12 months, you need to think of one word that can represent what type of person you want to grow into to.
But before you can even choose that word, I want you to understand what your values are in the first place. To understand where you stand will help ensure a solid foundation for the process of becoming the best version of yourself. So some quick journal prompts or questions to ask yourself are:
- What kind of person do you want to be known for/as?
- What types of qualities does that type of person have?
- Why do you want to be known as this type of person?
- Values and qualities are not the same thing. Values are “a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life” and qualities are “a distinctive attribute or characteristic possessed by someone or something.” That being said, what kind of values are needed to develop or strengthen these qualities you want to have?
- Do you want to be known to be the best version of yourself, or do you want to be known as someone who is liked and approved by others? You have to make sure you come from a place where you are thinking of yourself, what makes you happy, and what makes you believe life is worth living.
After asking yourself these questions and digesting the answers you have given yourself, you should have a better grasp of what your values are. Knowing what you hold dear to your heart is important to keep in mind, as your actions should reflect your values. When your actions and values do not align, it will be difficult to get through conflicts and struggles you find yourself in. This may not make sense right now, but we can go through an example to better understand what I’m trying to say.
Let’s say one of your values is family, more specifically, having good family relationships.
Now, why is this a value of yours? Probably because you love your family and want to have a good family of yours in the future. (See, wanting a good family of your own in the future is a goal, not necessarily an intention)
To achieve this goal, you have to have the proper intentions set in place. You need to have something deep within your head and embedded within your subconscious mind to guide you throughout the process of achieving your goals. So then comes the question… how do I determine an intention that can help me achieve my goal?
Well, this can be a long-winded process, but to simplify it, ask yourself why you have this goal. (Yes, it’s a lot of asking “why” but if you don’t ask yourself this simple, one worded question, it’ll be difficult to understand your purpose wanting to achieve your goals.) And let’s say your answer in this example is, “I want to have a good family in the future because this is the relationship I have with mine right now.”
At this point, you have clarified your “why” to the goal and can now establish an intention you must commit to in order to achieve the goal. You know that you have a good relationship with your family now – well, do you know what makes it a good relationship? What are you doing that’s making it a reality?
There could be multiple answers to this question, but let’s say what you do is have conversations with them at the dinner table. You are present with them when you eat together and having deep, meaningful conversations that improve the quality of your relationship. An intention you could have for the year, in this case, could be.
“Be present with my family love them unconditionally.”
But wait Eril, that was super anti-climatic. That just sounds like a goal.
Again a goal is a desired result, but an intention is a commitment to carry out an action. See it more as an ongoing goal if you’d like, but the intentions you set are the foundations of achieving your goals.
2. Set a word for the year.
After understanding your values and setting an intention, you can do what I personally do and choose a word that can represent this intention you’ve presented.
Present. Now. Love. Today. Family. Cherish.
These are a few I thought of for this example since the emphasis is on family and cultivating a relationship of unconditional love and presence in their lives. I also see it as living in the now because this present moment is the only one that exists, so cherish it.
So, there you have it. You have an understanding of your values, a set intention, and a word that can represent that intention.
3. Take things one month at a time.
Is this clear? Take your intention for the year one month at a time, because it’s not set to happen overnight. It’s an intention you want to embody all this year, so that you can become a better person and ultimately achieve your goal of having a good family in the future. The steps you take now to be present with your family and unconditionally love them will translate into something beautiful when you have your own children.
4. Live out your intentions every day.
Again, this isn’t an intention that will happen overnight, nor will you reach the intention by the end of the month. Take your time, be gentle with yourself, and live slowly. Live to your fullest every day, but live with peace and a steady pace.
5. Forgive yourself if you stumble, because you’re human.
If you happen to stumble and there’s a day that you aren’t present with your family because something else is troubling your mind, that isn’t a permission note to beat yourself up. In times like this, you have to learn how to forgive a slip up and love yourself too. Loving yourself will enable you to reground yourself in your values, remember your intentions, and get back on track to living them each and every day.
Yearly intentions are a beautiful thing that I’ve personally the past two years.
A post on the past two years plus my intention for 2019 is coming up soon as well. There, you’ll be able to see a real life example of my intention setting process.
However, I believe that regardless of my example, you already have the answers to how to set your specific intentions already within you. It’s just going to take some digging, patience, and love. Good luck with your process and share with me below what intentions you plan on making for the upcoming year!