Dr. Mary Mollway, Ed.D.
The Power of Setting Intentions
Happy New Year! it is the time of year when many of us take stock of the year behind us and make plans for the year that awaits us. We have all made the dreaded “New Year’s Resolutions” which usually last a few weeks until we drift back into our old patterns. That is normal as humans like sameness and change is HARD. I quit making resolutions a long time ago and instead focused on setting goals and intentions. But you say, “wait! Aren’t those the same thing??” Nope!
Let me elaborate. Goals are external, outcome-driven, and future-focused. Here are some goal examples:
Lose 15 pounds
Take a vacation to visit my cousins
Eat less sugar
Find a new job
Intentions, however, are PRESENT-focused, INTERNAL, and focus on how you want to FEEL. How do you want to experience the world? Show up in your life? Feel on a daily basis? Here are some intention examples:
Today, I look for ways to help others
I am grateful for the good things in my life
I am worthy of being treated with kindness
I am a powerful woman
Today, I speak to myself with kindness
Why does it matter? When we create an intention, it actually changes our brain. Our pre-frontal cortex lights up like a Christmas tree. Since it is the conductor of your brain “orchestra”, it gets the message of “I will speak to myself with kindness” and tells the rest of the brain to play together nicely because this is what you are doing. Our thinking matters. In fact, our thinking changes our environment and sometimes those around us. No, really. Have you ever heard of the law of attraction? This “law” states that positive thinking brings positive things into our lives and negative thinking brings negative things into our lives. So, if you set the intention that you are going to have a great day, you will. If you get up and decide it is a terrible, horrible, no-good, bad day, you are right and it will be. The power of intention in a nutshell.
How do you go about setting intentions? I like to set daily intentions while I am driving to the office or drinking my morning cup (ok, CUPS) of coffee. Get into a quiet space, take a few deep breaths, close your eyes if you aren’t driving, and think about how you’d like to feel that day. Here are some keys to creating good intentions:
State them in the present tense (for yearly intentions, these can be future tense)
State it positively (“I speak to myself positively” as opposed to “I won’t speak to myself negatively”)
Write them down
Keep them where you can see them
Intentions can be daily, monthly, or yearly. Need some examples of yearly intentions? Sure!
This year, I will stay connected to nature
This year, I will stay committed to my personal growth
This year, I will find joy in the small things
When we change our mindset and set our focus on our internal state, it changes how we show up in the world, work toward our goals, and interact with those around us. It is POWERFUL!
Here’s to a wonderful new year! It will be. That’s my intention.