My 4-Step Intention Setting Process!
Hi friend, you may know by now that Monday is my favorite day of the week… I love a fresh start! New opportunities are always available to us (not just each week, but each moment!), but if we aren’t approaching these fresh starts with intention, they aren’t bound to do much for us… That’s why each weekend I set time aside to explore and set a specific intention for the upcoming week.
You may have set an intention before for a particular project, or day. Some people set daily intentions, or before workouts/yoga practices.
An intention is simply defined as a person’s “aim or plan.”
There’s nothing particularly new or dazzling about setting an intention—but I have found that this simple tool can make all the difference in my thoughts, approach, efforts, feelings, actions and results—depending on how it’s done!
More often than not, our minds are wandering (true story). The only times our minds are not actually wandering is when we intentionally pay attention.
So, intention is key to pretty much doing anything. A lot of the time, we end up doing things all day long without really being tuned into why—we just do stuff because we’re supposed to (or because we should).
Of course, all of us have to get that “stuff” done, but our experience of those things and our perception of our day can be completely different when those items are approached with intention.
If you’ve heard people talk about the importance of knowing your “why” with a goal—this is what we’re getting at.
So how do we set intentions to show up with intentionality and purpose?
My method goes something like this:
1. List upcoming challenges.
First, I make a list of any challenges I can anticipate showing up during the week (or you can do this for the day). Of course, we can’t predict most external circumstances, but there are some things we know—like our schedule.
For me, some of the predictable/known challenges on my upcoming weekly list might look like:
- Getting ready for a big presentation.
- Having limited time for myself due to the schedule that week.
- Preparing for a paper that’s due for school.
- Having to wake up extra early each day to get everything done for work and school.
- Not having time to do my regular workout routine.
- Having to interact with a difficult person.
2. What are some things that would support these specific challenges?
Once I have some of those challenges on paper, I can explore some tools/words/approaches that may offer support for those challenges (individually, or combined), such as:
- Getting enough sleep.
- Not planning too many additional daily things.
- Anticipating being flexible and having to change things last minute.
- Setting time aside each day to ground and be present.
- Not volunteering to do more than I can (setting boundaries).
- Having a routine to keep me on track (that I can approach flexibly).
- Prioritizing grounding practices to start the day off with and come back to as needed.
3. Synthesize your findings!
Seeing these challenges and options for support laid out in front of me, I can start to make some connections to narrow in on something that would help me get through the week that I can come back to—an intention!
Most of the issues in this week revolve around a lack of time. This is common, but during weeks like this where my days become so packed, I know it’s going to be important for me to keep these things specifically in mind:
- Flexibility. I can anticipate that things will not go according to plan and will likely have to change. I can prepare to go with the flow.
- Being present—this includes remembering to take a breath, as well as paying attention to what’s happening and being able to focus.
- Prioritizing self-care such as sleep, healthy choices, boundary setting, and personal time.
4. Sum it all up and set a custom intention.
Now I have all of the information I need to set a custom intention. Something that combines everything, like “Be flexible, breathe, pay attention, and focus on health and self-care” sums it up, but is long and tough to remember—there’s too much going on!
Instead, I try to sum it up into 2-3 words that I can remember for the week:
Custom intention: Breathe & Flow
These words remind me to be flexible and present, and even subtly nod me in the direction of movement. Of course—all that matters is that I understand the meaning of this custom intention.
I’ve seen people provide “lists” for intentions, and while words can provide inspiration, it is the process of setting the intention that will make it valuable to revisit. These 2-3 words mean something to you specifically, and something different to you based on the context of your week and needs, than they would mean to me.
“Breathe & Flow” likely won’t provide you the same support that it will me—because it’s MY custom intention.
I usually write my intention on a paper or sticky note and keep it on the fridge, on my computer, or set an alarm each day to remind me to revisit it.
Of course, you can try this 4-step intention setting method for a day as well, anticipating any challenges and options for support—I do this sometimes on days I know will be especially hard to manage.
But I find weekly intentions very supportive and powerful, because they’re an opportunity for me to check in on the weekend, mentally prepare for the week, and tune back into myself all week long.
Have you tried intention setting before? For days? Weeks? What’s worked and what hasn’t?
Light and love,