Jumping feet first into the day without a moment of pause may not be the best way to set yourself up for success. One of the quick things you can do instead is to start your day by setting a daily intention.
You might be tempted to discount intention setting as some sort of new age mumbo jumbo.
Not if you do it properly.
The truth is when you focus on something, it magnifies.
You know – if you start thinking about red cars all of a sudden it seems like there are a bazillion red cars on the road.
The fancy name for why this happens is frequency illusion, or the Baader-Meinhoff phenomenon. Basically, our brain tends to see things everywhere once we have brought them to our attention.
My mother used to call it:
“You get what you go looking for.”
Think of setting an intention as consciously choosing your day.
Instead of feeling like you are at the mercy of whatever might show up, you can create the kind of day would you like to experience.
Intention setting helps you proactively set the tone for the day with a meaningful & conscious focus.
What is an intention?
Let’s start with the basics.
An intention is a positive focus captured in an adjective or quality word.
It’s a declaration of how you want to show up in the world.
I like to call it your “beingness”.
Think of an intention as a powerful, positive and purposeful phrase that helps guide your choices as you go through your day.
Today I will be…fill in the blank.
You can also switch up the “be” word with another verb if it resonates better with you:
You get the idea. Essentially you are pairing an action with a quality or core value.
By bringing your awareness and intention to the day, you are more likely to make conscious choices in actions and attitudes as the day unfolds.
It’s important to remember that daily intentions are not goals or things to cross off your to-do list.
A purposeful intention is not to “get stuff done” even though we probably have a huge pile of stuff to do.
Instead intentions are a way to go about doing those things or interacting with yourself and others.
Daily intentions can also help with your mood.
If you sometimes find yourself waking up on the grouchy side, or overwhelmed with the busyness of the day, setting an intention can help you shift out of a negative mindset.
Let’s say you find yourself lying in bed thinking “there are way too many things to do today”, you can shift your attention instead to focusing on the most important priorities. Your intention then becomes “Be focused”.
Don’t underestimate the power of where your attention goes. It will magnify your experiences.
That’s why intentions focus on expanding more of something and not on hoping for less of something else.
In his book The Power of Intention, Wayne Dyer encourages us to access the power of creating what we want.
He says that the Wright brothers didn’t contemplate staying on the ground or Thomas Edison didn’t contemplate the darkness of things.
They focused on what they wanted to create not on the circumstances in front of them.
The same principle applies with your daily intention.
Focus on what you want to create each day.
Intentions are not magical incantations
There is no magic trick that happens when you set an intention.
Just because you take the time at the beginning of your day to focus on what you want to create does not mean everything magically falls into place.
You still might have a lousy day.
Things might still go completely sideways.
Lots of things will still be out of your control.
So why set an intention?
Well if you set an intention at the beginning of the day, you will have created a purposeful focus for how you want the day to go.
Then you have to line up your actions and thoughts throughout the day to make it happen.
That means that you have to remind yourself of your intention throughout the day and keep bringing it back into focus.
You are not trying to make something specific happen. You are simply focusing your attention on how you what to interact with whatever the day brings.The beauty of setting daily intentions is that you get to control what is actually within your control. You create a purposeful focus for how you want the day to go. Click To Tweet
The beauty of setting intentions is that you get to control what is actually within your control.
You get to be responsible for your own thoughts and actions.
So even if things unravel during the day, you will have a better chance at handling them in a different way. That’s much better approach than cruising through the day on auto-pilot.
Simple steps to creating a daily intention
Take a few minutes at the start of your day to set your intention.
You can do this before you get out of bed, or while you are having your morning coffee. Choose a spot that is quiet where you won’t be interrupted.
Begin by taking a few conscious breaths.
This allows you to settle yourself for a moment. Intentions come from your heart, not your head.
Then ask yourself one of these questions:
What do I want to create today?
What core value do I want to honor today?
How do I want to be today?
What personal quality will best serve me today?
Next write down your intention in a short phrase (2 – 3 words).
You could put it on a sticky note, or in your phone or on a piece of paper in your pocket. Choose something that is easy for you to look at throughout the day.
Here’s the important step:
Reconnect with your intention during the day. With endless distractions, it’s easy to set and intention and forget about it.
The key to your success it to revisit it and recommit so it stays top of mind.
You can always set an alarm in your phone to remind you, or post your sticky note somewhere prominent.
When things get busy and you get off track, or you become frustrated, irritated or overwhelmed, simply shift back to your daily intention.
Use those feelings as a signal to ask yourself:
Given today’s intention, what’s the most important thing for me to remember right now?
If I was being __________, what would I do right now?
Remember setting an intention and using it to guide our choices is a continual work in progress. We are human beings after all which means we mess stuff up regularly.
At the end of the day, it’s helpful to reflect on what difference your intention made.
Then tomorrow, begin the process again.