How to Set Intentions That Last
Updated: January 13, 2023
By Brooke Weber, Pretzel Kids content writer
You might have heard of the practice of setting intentions for your life, but do you know what intention-setting means?
According to Mindful.org, meditating with intention involves choosing a path you’d like to go down and aiming to arrive at that place. This is different from setting a New Year’s Resolution.
For example, you might try to set an intention that you’re going to have a good day today. Even if the day doesn’t go quite as planned, you’ve still started your morning out with a positive outlook in mind. Read on to learn more about intentions and how to set intentions that last.
Where does the phrase setting intentions come from?
Deepak Chopra states that the idea comes from the text of the Upanishads, a Sanskrit text that makes up the fourth layer of the Vedas, the foundational texts of Hinduism (though not all Hindus follow the Vedic texts by any means). The Upanishads interpret rituals and bring together the philosophical ideas of the earlier Vedas. They were compiled between 500 and 700 BCE and are made up of knowledge passed down from teachers to students through conversations when studying in the forest.
Chopra says that the Upanishads included discussions of intention-setting: “You are what your deepest desire is. As your desire is, so is your intention. As your intention is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”
In the mainstream yoga world, intention-setting is now understood as a way to bring an added sense of awareness to your everyday life. Read on to learn how to set intentions that last.
What do you want to focus on? You can set intentions around anything, from having a positive outlook on life to accepting mistakes you make while knitting, and anything in-between. Have a specific activity you love? Try to enjoy, even if other things in your life seem chaotic or difficult. Have a big project due at work? Decide to delight in the process when you set intentions. You never know, it might make the tough parts a little easier! Start thinking of all the opportunities you have to change your thinking about a certain aspect of your life.
Record it all
It’s all well and good to think up ideas for intentions, but writing things down gives them a sense of weight and importance. Turn your intentions into sentence form, like “I will find the fun in my work today,” or “I will celebrate all my wins, big or small.” It’s like a mini-commitment to yourself – by recording your hopeful intentions, you’re telling yourself that you will actually try and implement these thought patterns into your life!
2. Start with the little things
If you’re having trouble brainstorming intention-setting ideas, we totally get it – it can seem overwhelming! Start small. Do you begin your mornings with a cup of coffee? Set the intention that today you’re going to enjoy and savor every drop of that latte! When you do this, you’re actually being mindful and encouraging yourself to become aware of the things you might not ordinarily notice. Once you’ve got this down, you can start thinking about entire days in a positive and mindful way!
Even the tiniest of intentions count. Deciding to become more aware of the world around you and the life you’re living is amazing, and you can and should recognize that! Encouraging yourself will only help you set bigger and bigger goals in the future. If you like the way your bite-sized intentions are affecting your life, then stick to them! It’s up to you.
3. Set aside a regular time to be mindful
As with so many things in life, creating a routine really helps establish any habit you’re trying to form. If you’re setting intentions for the day, try to carve out a specific time each morning when you can take five minutes to yourself and focus on the things you’ve written down. If you’ve only got five minutes between when you wake up and when you need to start getting ready for work, that’s enough! Try to do this at the same time every day – set reminders on your phone or write sticky notes if you need help remembering. If you are setting intentions around an activity, try to give yourself a few minutes to get into the right mindset. That way, you’ll associate that activity with positive thoughts every time!
This is self-care time for yourself, and that’s okay
With the focus on productivity that’s so ingrained into our society, it’s sometimes hard to allow yourself to practice self-care. When you first start to set intentions, you might have thoughts about tasks you could be getting done or other responsibilities in life. But you are important, and so is your mental well-being! If setting intentions helps bring some brightness into your life, especially during these tough times, then that’s great. Don’t try to shove that voice in your head away, but accept it and maybe say to yourself, “I will enjoy doing something for myself today.”
4. Practice other mindful activities
Intention-setting pairs extremely well with activities that encourage mindfulness. You can meditate, knit, exercise, paint, listen to your favorite podcast – whatever puts you in that self-aware mood. These activities can really help lead you towards leading a more thoughtful life. With all this extra awareness in mind, you can have an even clearer path for your intentions to become reality!
Why not become a yoga instructor?
One amazing mindful activity to try is yoga! It offers not only stress relief and increased focus, but also increased balance, strength, and flexibility. Sign up for a class if you’ve never done yoga before, and get the whole family in on the benefits of yoga by enrolling the kids in their own yoga class!
If you’ve already got the basics down, you can turn your love for yoga into a career by becoming a certified kids yoga teacher!
If you’re looking for a side gig, part-time job, or full-time job, you can become a yoga teacher online from the comfort of your own home! This way, you’ll get all the health benefits of yoga, including increased awareness and mindfulness, while helping your students do the same. What could be better than that?
Brooke Weber is a Pretzel Kids content writer.