Mindful Mondays: Setting an Intention


F! feeling bad, let’s practice Setting an Intention!

Agency over Anxiety! Setting an intention is extremely helpful for going through the day more purposefully—you’ll be more proactive than reactive. You will also feel more empowered and confident, AND you are more likely to do what you wanted to do and notice that you did so.

Be careful, my overachievers, and keep your list of intentions short and accessible.


How

Setting an intention is best done in the morning. Some like to remain in bed and do this just after they wake, but there are so many other pockets of the morning for this. If you exercise or practice yoga, doing this right after might help. You can enjoy your morning coffee or tea or even go for your morning walk. Find a space in your routine to make this a ritual (rituals are important!) by experimenting with what works best for you.

  1. In your chosen space and time, find a relaxed posture.
  2. Take some cleansing breaths, melt into your posture, shake out any stiff areas.
  3. Close your eyes if you’re comfortable doing so—if not find a space to stare at across the room that isn’t another person…don’t be creepy.
  4. Ask yourself, “What is my intention for today?”
    1. What realistic tangible goal or task do you want to reach?
    2. How will you show up for you?
    3. How will you show up for others?
    4. When something difficult arises, what is your plan?
    5. What strengths will you use to provide the best space for yourself and others?
  5. When you are ready, open your eyes slowly.
  6. Take time to write down your intentions for the day.
    1. Writing down your intentions increases the benefits of setting them.
    2. You are welcome to write down your intentions the night before if you prefer.

Thank you for joining me for mindful Mondays! Let me know what you liked or disliked about this practice in the comments. Have a great rest of your week.


Why

Awareness

The act of setting an intention forces you to take account of how, when, where, and why you will engage in that behavior. It encourages you to commit to doing things that are realistic and doable. Further, it engages the phenomenon of the self-fulfilling prophecy, which is often labeled “manifesting.” Setting an intention to be kind activates the neural pathways in your brain that are responsible for kind behavior and you picture ways in which you are kind. Activation of the pathways primes that behavior, meaning it is more accessible than other behaviors for a period of time. It also strengthens the bonds along the neural pathway, which strengthens the probability of engaging in that behavior over longer periods of time—every time you imagine it and do it, the stronger those bonds get and the more likely you will do it in the future.

What’s even more fascinating, is that you will put yourself in positions to use that behavior more often, as well, even outside of your awareness in doing so. Your brain seeks out things around you that confirm the mood, belief, attitude you have in the moment. If you primed your brain for kindness, and are experiencing a desire to be kind, you will focus on things around you that evoke a response of kindness.

If you practice setting an intention on a regular basis as part of a routine, it becomes a ritual. Rituals are important for self-discipline, emotional regulation, and agency. Much like performers and athletes, the pre-activity rituals set a space before the day, so you enter into the day with your day-face on, prepared to address what the day brings. Rituals also work to strengthen the neural pathways that promote repetition of desired behavior.

Empowerment

Most of the time most of us move through our days and weeks reacting to what happens around us and to us. Reacting relies heavily on emotional responses in the moment that tend to leave out important information before responding. At the end of an unintentional day, you likely comb through your actions to figure out what you could have done better.

Setting an intention is a proactive technique for planning your day. When you move through a day with a plan, you remain aware of your commitments and take note of when you complete them. When we set intentions of staying focused, having patience, or being kind, it guides your behavior for unpredictable situations, as well. Having a list of completed tasks at the end of a day not only feels good, but it increases your sense of agency (reducing anxiety) by recognizing how capable you.


For more information about setting an intention, follow the links below:

How a Top Harvard Business School Professor Approaches Intention Setting

How Science Supports the Power of Setting Intentions

Self-Awareness and Setting Intentions

Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan


If you are interested in increasing your ability to regulate your emotions, move through the world more purposefully, and manage overwhelming anger and anxiety, consider registering for updates on upcoming programs and sign up for your free consultation.


Disclaimer: This content is intended for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for mental health treatment. It is important for survivors of abuse to find mental health professionals who understand trauma and abusive relationships. Please seek support from trusted and trained practitioners. This content is not meant to be used by anyone as diagnostic criteria. Permissions have not been granted for anyone to utilize this material as a source to make allegations about specific individuals. Any online content produced by Michelle Minette and F! All That Wellness Coaching is an educational discussion about narcissism which is a descriptive term for tendencies and behavioral patterns. Individuals with narcissistic features or tendencies do not necessarily meet DSM-5 diagnostic criteria. The terms narcissistic and narcissism are used as descriptions of tendencies and behaviors and are not meant as clinical terms.