What is Intention Setting? An Activity Everyone Should Know



Every major breakthrough begins with a dream, the desire to do, achieve, or create something. Our dreams are the seeds we plant and our intentions are the magic sauce that makes them grow.

What is intention setting? Intention setting is a cognitive framework for consciously shifting your priorities and aligning your actions with your highest ideals about how you want to show up in the world. It is the foundation of living intentionally on a daily basis.

Intentional living is a popular topic right now and learning the simple practice of intention setting is a powerful tool for keeping you connected to your goals and your purpose.

In this post we’ll explore the basics of intention setting as well as some easy activities you can do on a regular basis to bring you closer to your dreams.

What are Intentions?

According to Dictonary.com an intention is:

  • an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result
  • the end or object intended; purpose

My interpretation is that our intentions are the inner dialog we use to guide our thoughts and our attitude. They determine the choices we make, which in turn influence the actions we take, and they ultimately shape our experiences.

“Your intentions create your reality.” ~ Wayne Dyer

In his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Deepak Chopra provides an even deeper explanation with The Law of Intention and Desire. He explains that in the quantum field everything in the universe is made up of energy. This includes us, plants, animals, etc. but it also includes our thoughts, feelings and desires.

From his perspective our desires are the energetic spark, they are the initial beginning, the potential of what can be.

He goes on to explain that whatever we focus our attention on is energized. So bringing our attention to our desires energizes the spark and increases the potential.

Lastly, he explains that our intentions are what transforms our desires into reality. He explains that when we set our intentions, they are sent out into the quantum field which he describes as a sea of potential or potentiality waiting to bring our desires into form.

Intention vs Goals

The terms intention and goal are often used interchangeably, but they are actually quite different.

Goals have a specific outcome, they are future focused. There is usually something measurable and tangible as the end result. We set expectations and milestones with goals and evaluate our progress as we work towards them.

Example goals:

  • lose 10 lbs
  • make $100,000 a year
  • be comfortable with public speaking
  • work less hours each week
  • exercise 3 times a week
  • volunteer 5 hours a week
  • learn to play the piano

Intentions on the other hand, are focused on the present. They are your mindset and your inner dialog you use to navigate through the world. With intentions the focus isn’t on a specified future outcome, the focus is on how you want to feel, approach and interact with the world and those around you.

Example intentions (based on the above goals):

  • I choose low calorie healthy nutritious foods that nourish my body
  • I am open to receiving money and financial abundance
  • My message is important and I’m open to sharing it with an audience
  • Making more time for myself reduces my stress
  • I exercise to keep my body healthy and feel strong
  • Volunteering connects me to my community
  • Playing piano cultivates my love of music

Importance of Intention

As mentioned earlier, our intentions determine our thoughts, our attitude and the actions that we take. Therefore, the importance of intention lies in being aware of what your intentions are and striving to align them with your highest ideals.

Whether you realize it or not – you’re always setting intentions.

Energy grows and expands around anything we focus our attention on. You may have heard the saying before, “energy follows thought”. Because of this, is it crucial to be aware of what you’re focusing your attention on.

I was a teacher for many years. I would often have students say, “I can’t” when learning something new. Typically my response was, “if you believe you can’t you are right. If you believe you can, you’re also right”.

This is great advice for students, but it is also great general advice for living. The universe, and the field of pure potentially, is always hard at work transforming our desires and intentions into reality. Our job is to make sure what are send it on a daily basis is what we truly want to manifest.

Do we send it our highest ideals, or do we send it doubt, apathy and fear?

What is Intention Setting?

Intention setting is the practice of consciously choosing our intentions. It involves evaluating and assessing what our values are, what our dreams are, and what our purpose is.

In relation to intentional living, it is about choosing the areas in our life where we want to be more intentional. It is about choosing how we steer our ship.

No matter what the life area is – health, exercise, financial, work, relationships, spirituality or play – it is about determining how you want to be, feel, and relate. Not only to yourself, but to others from moment to moment.

It is honing in on the mindset and the inner dialog for your journey.

Intention setting can also be a valuable tool for helping you achieve your goals. One way to look at it is to imagine what it would feel like to achieve your goal? Or determine the habits, routines or steps that are needed to achieve your goal and create intentions to help you align with those steps.

Using one of the examples from above, you may have a goal of losing 10 pounds. When we aren’t consciously focused on our intentions it is all too easy to set really bad ones without even realizing it. For example, you may tell yourself things like, “I have trouble losing weight” or “I can’t stop snacking”.

However, when we make the decision to consciously focus our intentions we consider the actions and habits that are needed to lose 10 lbs. So instead of going into it with a negative mindset unknowingly, we can set intentions that supports our goal like, “I choose low calorie healthy nutritious foods that nourish my body”.

When setting your intentions, a good way to measure if it is a good one or not is to simply repeat it yourself and assess how you feel. It should make your feel good and supported.

Test this by repeating the two intentions below and notice how different you feel as you repeat each one.

  • “I can’t stop snacking”
  • “I choose low calorie healthy nutritious foods that nourish my body”

Intention Setting Activities

Below you’ll find some intention setting activities to get you started.

Power Words

Using power words is probably one of the easiest ways to get started with an intention setting practice. It simply involves choosing a word to focus on and allowing yourself to experience how that word feels.

It’s something you can do on a daily basis, weekly basis or just whenever you want to experience the feeling of that word. This is a great exercise if you are working towards a goal. It can be a great tool for reconnecting you to your purpose or your reason for setting the goal.

Using power words is also a powerful tool, pun intended, for turning or steering your ship through rough life waters. Maybe you are making a big life change, working on a really large goal, or going through a difficult stage or phase in life, power words can be the reminder and the encouragement you need to keep your head up and stay focused.

Some example power words:

  • Generosity
  • Patience
  • Thankfulness
  • Solitude
  • Wonder
  • Joy

Daily Intention Practice

A lot of people like to carve out some time each morning for a daily intention practice. This typically involves considering the intention that will benefit you most for that specific day then taking a moment to set the intention.

The practice could be in the form of stream-of-conscious journaling which you start by asking yourself what feeling or mindset will benefit you most that day and then writing what comes to mind.

It could be a short meditation where you ask for guidance on how to align with your highest ideals for the day.

Regardless of how you choose to implement the daily practice, you’ll become better at connecting to how you want to feel, more self-aware of your inner dialogue, and better at shifting your mindset.

Visual Intention Reminders

Many people also do well with having visual reminders of their intentions in their environment. Similar to power word these can be a useful tool for realigning or focusing your attention.

  • Make a note and post it where you’ll see if often; on your bedroom mirror, on your wall, or even on the steering wheel of your car (I have a dear friend who does this).
  • Write in it on your calendar or in your planner (daily if needed).
  • Make it the wallpaper on your computer or phone (I personally love and use this one).
  • Save it as a note if your favorite note app or similar tool.
  • Create a vision board for it and hang it somewhere you’ll see it often.

Law Of Detachment

Lastly, I’m going to leave you with one other concept from Deepak Chopra’s book, The Law of Detachment. Once you have set an intention it is important to release it with gratitude and detach from it. Attachment isn’t productive and moreover it can turn into worry, anxiety, and a feeling of lack.

A gentle reminder, the field of pure potentially is always working to transform what you are sending it into form. You can obsess and worry and in turn get more worry in return or you can have faith that your intentions are manifesting your dreams.

“Nothing is, unless our thinking makes it so.” ~ Shakespeare

“The entire universe is a great theatre of mirrors.” ~ Alice Bailey

I hope you learned something new from this post or found inspiration or tips you can implement in your own life. If you tried one of the activities, or have questions or comments, please share below.


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