The Power of Intentions
How are those New Year resolutions holding up? If you are killing it – great! But what we tend to see a lot of is that those resolutions fall to the wayside rather quickly for many people. Often the goal lacks specifics, is too broad, and does not include small actionable steps to help ensure success. Also, there is more to a goal then just creating it – how do you manifest it every day? We suggest thinking about beginning each day with an intention, one that you meditate on, journal about, or say out loud to yourself each morning and throughout the day. This can be a much more powerful practice than you may think!
Dr. Amy Salzman describes mindfulness as “Paying attention here and now with kindness and curiosity, so we can actively choose our behavior and who we want to be in the world.” So setting an intention is a form of mindfulness, and research is showing that setting intentions that support your goals yields much better outcomes. Imagine starting each morning with actively choosing your behaviors for the day ahead. What are your health and wellness goals, and how can you walk into each day with an intention around supporting those goals?
Starting with a vision
The starting point is creating a vision, and goals around supporting that vision. The vision is how you see yourself in the future – let’s say a year from now as an example. You wake up that morning and sit up in bed.
How do you feel – mentally, emotionally, and physically?
Why do you feel that way? In other words, what have you been doing this past year (remember this is a year from now) around your heath and wellness that has created this future you and how you feel?
How can this vision become the foundation for your goals?
I encourage you to take the time to do this exercise and really immerse yourself in the vision. It can be helpful to record what you are saying, or write it down as it emerges, so you can capture the vision. When I do this with clients, I take really detailed notes for them, so they can stay in the moment. The result of this exercise is a bigger vision of where you want to go and how you want to show up as your best self.
Goals that support the vision
The next step is to flesh out the goals, which I think of as the pillars, or the legs that hold the vision up. Sample pillars I commonly see with clients include:
Nutrition - obviously this is a key piece of our weight loss program
Organizing and decluttering
Connecting to nature
Regardless of the pillars, the smaller goals/steps within each goal are the actionable items. I could go into a whole separate blog about the importance of SMART goals, but that is something you can easily look up to learn more about, and I do recommend it. But in a nutshell, SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Action- based, Realistic, and Time Bound. It is key that the goals are something you can track your progress on!
How this connects to intentions
For today’s purposes, let’s come back to the intention. If we have a vision and goals, then the intention we set each day is the way we focus our efforts each day, or how we come back to our focus when the day is not going as planned, or we are feeling stressed. What might that look like?
Let’s use a weight loss example from a past client – we will call her Jane (not her real name). Her challenge was that the ultimate goal of losing over 100 lbs felt daunting, and this is where she tended to let her head go throughout the day. How can I do this? I always gain the weight back. I have that work event tonight and I know there will be so many temptations. I am having a crappy day and just really want to eat a box of cookies. I wish my spouse would not bring bread home. Sound familiar to anyone?
So obviously one of the pillars for Jane was nutrition, or more specifically eating for weight loss. She had a clear strategy and plan from our clinical nutritionist, who she had daily access to, and we helped her with ideas around meal prep/recipes, batching, and planning ahead. The goals were all really solid and detailed. All of this support was helping tremendously, but none of that changed the fact that her inner voice was her worst critic, and that would be a daily battle for a while.
So what did she do? We worked together to help her come up with an intention she could carry throughout the day and come back to whenever she needed it. She chose the intention of saying to herself “My vision for myself is possible if I make healthy choices today to support that vision.” And then she took that intention and came at it from multiple directions:
She would begin every day by taking a few deep breaths and saying this out loud to herself.
She would often write in her journal about how she would support her vision that day, or if at the end of the day, how she did support her vision that day.
She would say it out loud during the day whenever she needed to bring herself back to that intention, an intention that was at the root of all the hard work she was doing.
She even printed out her intention and taped it to her fridge and pantry, her computer, and her dashboard in the car.
And when she needed to change the intention a little, she modified it and kept going…until she hit her goal!
This was one part of a bigger picture of course, but she did reach her goal and she is still feeling amazing. SHE did that, SHE did all that work, and SHE eventually realized her inner critic had gotten much quieter. Does this mean that every day went perfectly, and she never slipped up? No! But the goal with an intention we connect with daily is not perfection, but consistency, and the ability to bring ourselves back to the focus…the vision of who we want to be. Jane would be the first to tell you that setting an intention she consciously connected to daily was critical for her, and she stills follows this practice.
Are you open to this process?
If you have never tried this kind of mindfulness practice before, maybe this is a good time to try it out. And if you want someone to walk along beside you during this journey, we can help you create the vision, the goals, and the intention during our health coaching sessions, as part of our weight loss program. This work is truly transformative in every way, and we feel privileged to be able to do this every day. We are here if you need us!
“Where intention goes energy flows!” ~ James Redfield