If you’re noticing this January is not quite like other Januaries, and you’re feeling the more reckless but also more empowered, “If not now then when?” feelings of someone who has been through a significant long-term event, then grab onto those feelings to enter into the year, embody life differently, and enjoy the idea of being in the driver’s seat with your life. By using this time to set some power intentions, let them hold you accountable, and approach them with reasonable, measured focus in 5-minute increments, you can bring them into existence and have incredible outcomes to show for yourself. Use the prompts below to start your intentions for the year today!
The Mindset of Setting Intentions
All of those who espouse mindset as the best way for a person to see progress and change talk about setting intentions.
Resolving to do things in the new year is nice, but the only way to make those resolutions or any intention stick is to make them real, physical, and permanent, and the only way to do that is to write them down.
Words exist to give ideas shape, and when we write words in comprehensive units (sentences), we’re bringing those sentiments into the physical world, and therefore making them real. Where it’s harder to put stock in something that can’t be seen, it’s a lot easier to look at something that exists in physical form and know it to be true because we can see and touch it.
Intentions fail more often when they reside in thought as they’re thrown into your mind’s general spin cycle where they are easily lost.
Keeping them in the form of thought also adds to your psychic burden. When people awake at 3 a.m. to ruminate on things that are bothering them, the best and most salient way to make them real is to bring them out of the bingo ball cage of your brain and onto the page.
Gretchen Rubin talks about this in her excellent interview with finance writer and money coach Melissa Houston on her podcast Think Like a CFO. Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, talks about how when we ruminate, we’re effectively stuck, but if you sit up, grab a pen, and let the thought out and onto the page, you’re releasing it from your brain and alleviating your mental burden.
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James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, says one must have a written plan for how to effectively implement an intention.
An implementation intention sweeps away foggy notions like “I want to work out more” or “I want to be more productive” or “I should vote” and transforms them into a concrete plan of action.
The simple way to apply this strategy to your habits is to fill out this sentence:
I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].
Write it all down, make your thoughts linear and clear, make them real, and set your intention.
Writing Down Intentions for Accountability
People make lists to focus their attention on the most important items they need to do. These lists remind us to do these things, but they also cut through the mental clutter and focus our attention on what we need to do.
In this way, we make write our reality into existence through our intentions. Once you have your list, it crystallizes your intentions and they become the reality of meaningful action.
Lose the Grand Gesture in Favor of the Tiny 5-Minute Effort
People get overwhelmed in a hurry when they think about their large-scale goals in broad terms. I want to run a marathon. I want to write my novel. I want to renovate my house.
These large actions contain almost innumerable small steps, but to look at them in a great sweep is what causes most people to freeze.
We get hits of dopamine from accomplishing goals, however small. I say be a dopamine hunter! Enjoy the little gestures: I emptied the dishwasher- (yes!) I cleaned a counter (That’s the money!) I wrote a whole page! (I’m killing it!)
What’s great about these micro-gestures is you can bear in the back of your mind that each one adds up to the larger intention. If you write one page a day, you’ll get an entire novel, memoir, or business book in just over 7.5 months. If you read fifteen minutes a day, you’ll read between 15-20 books per year
If you read 15 minutes a day, that’s 5475 minutes (91.3 hours) per year, equating to 18.25 300-page books
Toni Morrison wrote Sula “in her head on the subway between her home in Queens and her job in Manhattan.” When she put the ideas into writing, it took her two and a half years to get it done. No stranger to work, when she wrote her first novel, The Bluest Eye, she awoke at 4 a.m. every day, while being a single mother of two. Bit by bit, she wrote. Today, she is revered as one of the greatest writers of all time. (This excerpted interview of advice from Morrison is excellent).
Even if you jot down a sentence while you wait for your coffee to brew, that sentence is a gateway to a a personal essay, a blog, a story, or your book.
You can write the small intention to see success knowing each step you take leads you to the larger intention and achieving your goals.
Intentions Are Positive and Fruitful
When you write your intentions, you’re focusing on what you will do. There’s no dwelling on why you can’t reach your goal. Again, focusing on what is as a concrete gesture, rather than what isn’t (the money, time, fear, motivation, confidence, etc.) helps you see your possibility as possible.
If these past two years have shown me anything, it’s that waiting to do anything or to feel happy about achieving goals is useless. Time is precious. Self-care is necessary. Realistic expectations, a nurturing approach, and lots of love will allow for passion to take hold and emerge. And from there, you can make great things.
Writing Your Intentions: Prompts
It’s an alleviation, a joy, and even fun to set intentions. It makes all we want to do possible. For every reason we may want to do something and then ruminate and worry over why we can’t do it or why it wouldn’t work out, someone out there with similar life circumstances as us is writing down that same intention and then doing it.
Tip: keep a journal on your nightstand. Grab it first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Take 5 minutes to free up the bingo balls from the cage in your head, make your intentions real by writing them down, and see how you rise to meet the challenge. *Be sure to handwrite; all the science points to there being a direct line from the muscular work of handwriting to activating brain activity and memory retention much more powerfully than dictating or typing into your phone or computer.
1) What 10 things are you going to make happen this year?
2) What creative endeavors will you embark on or do this year?
3) Why did you chose the things you wrote for #2? What about them is appealing?
4) What’s one thing you’re afraid to do this year that you thought but didn’t write down in #1 or #2? (ooh, this is a good one, isn’t it?)
5) What about it scares you?
6) What would happen to you if you tried it?
7) If you were to dip your toe into the cold pool, what tiny 5-minute effort could you do to start #4 in a very low-stakes non-threatening way that would make you feel powerful and productive?
8) What 5-minute effort would you do after to follow the effort from #7?
9) What do you want to be this year?
10) Congratulate yourself with gratitude: write yourself into existence by enjoying the goodness in you and all you have given to others, done in the world, and accomplished. Make a nice long list of things you are grateful for you in yourself.
By writing your intentions, you are giving them life, the chance to manifest, and your chance to become everything you are meant to become.
Happy 2022. I wish you all you wish for yourself.
Even with the best of intentions it’s often challenging to see how to lay them out in order to make them a reality. Contact us any time to talk about your work and how we can support you and help you reach your goals.