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Setting Intentions

Start your day off right with an intention.

Angeli Sivaraman
Angeli Sivaraman
4 min read
Setting Intentions
Photo Cred: Angeli Sivaraman (myself) York Beach, Maine; Taken June 2021

Table of Contents

You hear in yoga class to “set an intention”. But we don’t have to limit our intention-setting to just yoga class. Today we will talk about the importance of setting intentions.

What are intentions and why set them?

  • Intentions are a guiding principle for how you want to live life
  • Intentions help to put our ideas into powerful and aligned action
  • Intentions bring together our mind, body, soul, and heart to reach the highest expression of the life we want to live
  • Intentions help to increase healthy boundaries and let go of excess obligations, requests, and tasks
  • They allows us to immerse ourselves in the day or task at hand
  • It’s an important step in manifestation

Goals versus Intentions

Goals and intentions differ in that goals are set for the future and intentions are set for the present. While goals give us direction, intention gives us purpose. Without intentions, goals can make us hyper-focus on something we don’t have right now.  This can mess with our energy because it dwindles our power and makes us feel like we came up short. Without an intention to supplement, we might forget how far we've come. Hyper-focusing on goals can also blind us to the potential that could have been outside of what we considered.  Or worse, force an outcome was not meant for us. Sounds like hard work.

Intentions, set in here and now, help us stick to a process and allow us to be more patient, compassionate, and receptive to something beyond what we originally planned. An example is our daily meditation practice. If our intention is to sit daily, whatever happens in the practice (mind wandering versus not, length vs frequency, etc.) doesn’t really matter, as long as you showed up and gave it a shot. This carries the benefits two-fold because you set an intention and then released expectations. This opens us to receive whatever is meant for us in that moment. And this doesn’t have to be limited to meditation, it could be exercise, eating well, learning a new skill, etc.

Why is setting intentions at the beginning of the day particularly important?

This sets the tone for the day. Intentions can set powerful actions into motion and guide us to live our lives in the highest integrity. When we are intentional about how we start the day, it can help us gain control over the day instead of having the day control us. The impact of our intentions is not limited to us; as we bring conscious awareness to the downstream effects of our intentions, we can see our light emanate outwardly into the world.

How to Get Started:

Really, all this requires is a moment of quiet.

We can start by practicing a little gratitude, really just to relax us and open us up, then we can set our intention. Boom - so simple!  You are simply aligning yourself with something you want to embody. This could be 9one of many things: peace, love, presence, balance, connection, honoring yourself, you name it. It's important to keep it positive, and not use any negative terms (ie., I want to avoid xyz, "I don't want to be ___" etc.). Think about what you value and what you want to foster more of.  Setting intentions reminds us that are important co-creators with the universe. The energy we put out matters.

An example of my intention setting practice:

I wake up, and I thank my dreams for showing me what I needed to know or see. I love my dreams btw. I spend about 1-2 minutes being grateful for anything I can think of. Usually I thank my bed (it’s insanely comfortable), my dog Rocco (because he sleeps next to me), and Mama Earth for supporting me (literally and spiritually). Then I set my intention. Today I will be present [or insert intention here]. Then I go about my day. What happens after that doesn’t matter, but I took control of the beginning of the day, and I did my best.

In truth, you can set an intention anytime! Are you wanting to make more spiritual friends? Set that intention! Are you wanting to date more intentionally? Set that intention! Are you wanting to choose work activities that actually align with your interests (not just ones that drain you?) Set that intention! Make sure it's positive, and has no hints of negativity. Are you wanting to adopt a more healthful lifestyle? Set that intention honey! Are you wanting to be really present with your friends at dinner tonight? Set it and relax into it you powerful manifestor!

This practice reminds me of the book, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. His four agreements for living your most authentic and spiritually aligned life are:

  • Be impeccable with your word (set your intention)
  • Don’t take anything personally (release attachment)
  • Don’t make assumptions (use our best observer's mind)
  • Always do your best (just beautiful!): our best differs on any given day and that’s okay! This just ups the self-compassion here!

I believe setting intentions helps to adhere to these beautiful agreements and create a life you truly love.

Journaling Prompt:

  • What intentions do you like to set for the day?
  • What intentions would you want to set moving forward?

To close, setting an intention can be a simple yet incredibly powerful practice. It helps us focus our mind and guide us throughout the day. It inspires us to do our best and let go of the rest :)

Naturally, I have to finish with a Don Miguel Ruiz quote:

“Every human is an artist. The dream of your life is to make beautiful art” — Don Miguel Ruiz

Everyone have a great week!



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Angeli Sivaraman is a spiritualist, meditator, nature junkie, and dog mom. She is the creator of Sage Elephant, a blog about spirituality and wellness. She can be reached by email!