It influences whether I will be productive or if I will remain unfocused.
It’s my key to getting what I want and hitting the goals I set.
It even helps in determining if I eat foods that nourish my body or if I just grab something because it’s quick.
What is it?
I begin the day by setting an intention.
Maybe you’re thinking that doesn’t sound very glamorous. But trust me, it is. It’s like having a super secret magic power.
Setting an intention for the day is like writing up a shopping list. It’s purpose-driven. It’s the way to make sure you get what you want. This is my secret to taking charge of my day.
You’ve grocery shopped without a list before, right? It’s hit or miss, at best. I know, I used to do it all the time in college. That’s why my refrigerator contents back then normally consisted of fast food ketchup packets, beer, pickles, usually a couple of out-of-date yogurts, and diet Pepsi. There was no plan — therefore the result was lackluster. Without fail, I’d spend the next week pacing around the kitchen, looking for food and not finding anything I wanted to eat.
When I got organized enough to start planning my grocery trips, I found I could actually create real meals from what I had in my kitchen.
That was always my goal. But with no planning, it didn’t happen. By taking a few minutes ahead of time to decide how I wanted my end result to feel — and then taking appropriate action — I could really create it.
It’s the same way with setting an intention for your day. Knowing how you want to end up feeling is the first step in making it happen.
Busy vs. Focused
Let’s get real here: I don’t always set an intention for my day. Some days I get busy and forget. Those are the exact days I end up at 5 pm wondering where the day went. As I replay it in my mind, I realize most of my activities didn’t match up to my true priorities. I usually note a loss of focus with lots of busy work, but few desired results.
How to Set Intentions in 5 Easy Steps
Intention setting isn’t difficult. You can set intentions for the day itself or you can set them around the key areas of your life.
This process can literally take less than 5 minutes. In fact, it can be done while you’re drinking your morning coffee. Write it out or do it in your head — whatever works best for you. If you’re ready, here’s how to do it:
1. Look at your what occupies much of your thoughts on any given day. Is it your work, eating habits, relationship, etc…? Let these natural inclinations help guide you to where you’d like to focus. This will usually ensure that you’re aligning with your natural priorities. If you don’t come up with a specific area of focus, that’s okay. Just focus on the day as a whole.
2. Then ask yourself, “When I come to the end of this day, how do I want to feel?” Examples of feelings may include: loved, joyful, peaceful, satisfied, elated, or whatever else feels good to you. Narrow it down to only what feels best to you. Then choose 1 – 3 of the feelings you are most craving.
3. Consider what activities could help you feel those desired feelings. For example, if you are in the process of writing a book — maybe sitting at the computer and writing at least 1 page during the day would create a desired feeling of contentment.
Once you’ve considered your activities, it’s time to narrow them down. Make a list of 1 – 3 activities to try for the day, that you think will create your desired feelings (from step #2 above). It’s important to keep the total at 3 or less activities. Any more, and the likelihood of completion decreases dramatically. And remember: 1 activity can create multiple feelings. For example, when I eat meals that contain primarily whole foods I feel proud, energetic, and happy.
4. Find a way to keep your desired feelings and planned activities front and center during your day. Perhaps put them on your calendar. Maybe set an alarm on your phone. Or use sticky notes. Find what works for you. But find something — because without follow-through, nothing changes.
5. Finally, here’s where the magic happens. Take what I call, inspired action. Perform the actions (from step #3) that will elicit the feelings you’re craving. Stay present in knowing that your current actions are creating the feelings you crave. Knowing the desired feelings are now on their way to you, practice feeling those feelings as soon as you begin taking action. By expanding the feeling in this way — you’ll find your actions begin to feel inspired as a result. That’s magic in my book!
Experiment and have fun with the process. See where it takes you.