Setting intentions with heart
With the New Year well and truly behind us, it’s time to look to the year ahead. Sure, there’s still a lot of uncertainty and, after a dark and gloomy winter, it can be easy to feel stuck in a rut or that you’ve lost your way.
But, spring is in the air, and better times are just around the corner. And, if there’s something we can do to help us find joy and light in our lives, it’s to be more intentional.
What are intentions?
Everything that happens in our lives starts with an intention. It’s the power within us that allows us to fulfil our wants and needs, and influences our thoughts and actions.
Although you might think of goals and intentions as one and the same, we can distinguish between them. Goals are the results that you’re looking for; intentions are the energy you put into something. So, your intentions can take you closer to achieving your goals, but they’re more than just that.
They’re about who you want to be, what you wish to contribute to the world, and how you choose to touch the lives of others.
Why should we set intentions?
Studies have shown that living a purposeful life not only makes people happier and more successful, but can also lead to countless benefits, including higher job satisfaction, a longer life-span, and reduced stress.
Intentions are what give you direction. They allow you to recognise and focus on your values, to lead a more fulfilling life. This means you’re more likely to get excited about the future and make things happen – because how you feel inside will inform whatever you choose to do.
When is the best time to set a new intention?
We can fall into a trap of waiting for a ‘good time’ to make a change – a new week, a new month or a new year. But there’s no rule about when you should set an intention. What’s important is that your heart and mind are focused on working towards positive change.
In energy healing practices such as Reiki, both the client and practitioner will set intentions at the beginning of the session. This shows that there’s always an opportunity to start afresh.
Every sunrise and sunset is a new chance to begin.
How to set intentions
If you’re feeling a little lost, let’s explore how you can set an intention to help you move forward.
Reflecting on lessons from your past can help you to create a purposeful future. Reflection journals can help with this, but all you really need is a pen and paper.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How do you want to feel? Do you want to stress less? Be more energised? Creatively-fulfilled? Hold on to this feeling, and think about how you can go about reaching it.
- What makes you happy? When do you feel happiest? How can you be happy more often?
- What achievements are you proud of? How did you make these things happen? How can you make space in your life to achieve similar things?
These questions may help you to form one intention, or many. Reiki Master Julia Trickett says the key is to be inquisitive. “Meditate on why you actually want this outcome. The answer might be a feeling, such as to feel more independent or happier.”
2. Remain positive
Sometimes we can focus too much on negative aspects in our lives – things we wish to give up. But, Julia says it’s important to think positively. “Focus on what you want to achieve, rather than what you don’t want in your life.”
Welcoming more warmth and happiness into your life leaves less room for negativity.
Gratitude journaling can help you to be mindful of what you have already, which is essential to positive wellbeing. “Start the day powering up your happiness by considering three things to be grateful for,” says Julia. “Then, at bedtime, give thanks for three things to help you feel better.”
3. Break it down into actions
When you know what you truly desire, you can take manageable steps to get there. Think realistically about what you can do every day, and what you need to work on to achieve it.
And remember, you don’t have to do it alone. Julia invites you to be inclusive with your intentions – who can help you to achieve your goal? “Consider motivational help from books, podcasts or even a coach,” she says.
4. Check-in regularly
Don’t set all these intentions and then bury your list in a drawer. Review how you’re getting on regularly.
Julia encourages a harmonious approach to this. Rather than feeling that you have to check-in at the end of every week or month, look for more natural, spiritual opportunities to pause. “You can use the energetic influence of the New Moon for your intention setting and review dates,” suggests Julia. “Empower yourself by working with your own daily and monthly cycles – when you naturally have more energy.”
If you menstruate, why not line up your check-ins with your period? Our hormones can play a big part in our energy levels, so it’s best to work with them rather than against them.
5. Enjoy the journey!
Try not to become too absorbed in getting to that end destination. Remember, finding happiness is about enjoying life. And try to be patient.
“We tend to get frustrated with delays,” says Julia. “But, it’s all a question of balance in achieving your intentions with your family, friends, and health intact.”
Of course, there will be times when you don’t achieve what you wanted to – life happens, and things get in the way. But, throughout all of this, try to cultivate a sense of gratitude so you can relax and enjoy the journey.