Setting an Intention

For many of us, mornings can be a hectic time of the day. We are off to the races when our feet hit the floor. This morning, I had a dozen emails to answer and this essay to finalize before I finished my first cup of coffee. We get so caught up in life and our responsibilities that we never take the time to check in with ourselves. Setting an intention for the day is a great way to stop and check-in.

In my last essay, I wrote about the differences and similarities between prayer and meditation. Prayer is speaking, and meditation is listening not only to the voice from outside but from the voice inside. Meditation is that time to look at what is happening inside ourselves. You can read more about that here.

What is an intention? An intention is an aim or a purpose you plan to achieve. Intentions can be long-term or short-term, but intentions need to be specific and actionable. It’s nice to set an intention to lose weight or read more, but that is not specific enough. I intend to lose 10 pounds in the next month, or I intend to finish that book I started by the end of the week. Specific and actionable.

Setting intentions allows us to live our lives with purpose and helps us become more present with ourselves and our relationships. Long-term intentions are great, but focusing on a daily intention will keep us in check with ourselves and allow us to be more mindful during the day and focus on the kind of energy we want to attract and put out into the world.

But I want to take setting an intention to the next level by saying that the intention we set should be for the greater and higher good. Our life’s goal should be to live to our greater potential. We might not know what that is, and finding our potential is what the journey is all about. So the intentions we set, the energy we put out and attract, should always be focused on the idea that this is for the greater good of me and all. We will talk more about the greater and higher good in another essay.

So, how do we set an intention?

Setting an intention should take no more than five minutes and should align with your values and goals. The intention can be a guide to help you through the day as you make decisions. The intention is a reminder of your daily focus and check in at the end of the day.

Intentions can be written down or spoken. For example, if you keep a diary or daily planner, either written or electronic, you can write your intention as the first act of the day, so when you open your calendar or diary, it is right there.

 Begin by writing “Today I intend to …”

Think about these questions:

What kind of person do I want to be today?
What attitude do I want to have toward other people?
What do I need to commit to to live a meaningful life?
What do I need to focus on to achieve my goals?

Here are a few examples of daily intentions. Use these as a guide or, if it fits with your greater and higher good, use them.

Today, I intend to:

Stay focused on my to-do list
Be present in the moment
Stick up for my own beliefs
Listen to my intuition and let it guide me
Enjoy my creativity
Be intentional and organized with my work
Open myself to new possibilities without shutting myself down
Stay in my heart, not my head
Prioritize what matters most
Embrace change in all forms

That last one can be a real challenge!

After setting the intention, ask yourself why this intention is essential. What bigger goal or value is this connected to?

There are a few ways that will help you fulfill your intention. I mentioned writing it in your diary already, but you can also write it on a sticky note and put it on your computer screen or something you look at throughout the day. Set a reminder alarm on your phone and change the alarm name to the intention. Set the alarm to go off at the time of the day you are most prone to lose attention. Take a few moments to meditate on your intention. Repeat it as you are conscious of your breathing to set it in your mind.

At the end of the day, take a few moments to reflect on your intention. Did you uphold the intention? If not, do not feel bad; write down a few ways you can improve for tomorrow. Remember, this journey will take many roads with twists and turns, and there will be good days and bad. We set an intention, not as a way to beat ourselves up but to look towards improvement and seek our best selves, and live to our higher good.

Start small, and build each day.

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