All that wide open space of time opening up in front of you. The uncertainty of what's to come can be scary, exciting, nerve-wracking, overwhelming.
To help shape what's to come, new beginnings are a terrific time to set intentions. A new beginning can be anything: the start of a new day, week, or year. If you follow astrological or celestial calendars, you might set your intentions as the moon moves into a new zodiac sign or during a solar eclipse. You might also set your intentions as you set off on a new journey--a new job, a new home, a new relationship, or an actual trip.
Now while I've heard about intentions for years, I didn't really practice them myself--until I wrote a blog about setting intentions for the new year instead of making resolutions. In that blog, I suggested that a good way to get in touch with your intentions was by creating a vision board journal. And, you know what? I stand by that. It’s a great idea, if I do say so myself.
After I posted that blog, I was itching to update my own vision board journal. So, I dove in. And I loved it. I loved being crafty and having an excuse to stay home while the wind whistled and the snow blew. I also loved getting in touch with my intentions, by going into the project without any preconceived goals to craft my vision board around. Instead, following the advice of various bloggers, I looked for graphics that spoke to me.
Once I felt as though I had enough graphics, I started sorting them into categories before pasting them into my journal. The process revealed that my intentions are primarily to live in love and in joy, to fulfill the wanderlust part of my spirit, and to make the most of every minute with my dog, Archie. Oh, and lemons. Every freakin’ magazine--whether about fashion, food and drink, travel, or other random topics--had lemons in it, and those bright yellow citrusy things spoke to me. Lemons are clearly my destiny.
But this process made me wonder: now what? Now that I know I want to live in love and joy (with lemons), what do I need to do to make that happen? And also: since journaling was instrumental in helping me discover (some of) my intentions, how can to use my personal journals to further this path?
What Are Intentions Anyway?
I’m still new to this whole intentions thing. For my other blog about them, I had to do a little research to try to figure out what intentions are, you know? Because some people seem use the word interchangeably with “goals” and that is not correct.
As I wrote:
Crafting Powerful Intentions
Christie’s explanation helped me a lot. But as I poked around the interwebs, I found Chandresh Bhardwaj’s blog at mindbodygreen. Chandresh gives specific examples of intentions. And not just random examples either. Nope. Chandresh lists 10 intentions that he says can help you live your most authentic life:
- I intend to manifest happiness naturally.
- I intend to respond first, and then react.
- I intend to witness Divinity in everyone.
- I intend to lead by example.
- I intend to be open to success and abundance.
- I intend to stop taking things personally.
- I intend to forgive others, and myself.
- I intend to love unconditionally.
- I intend to make meditation a more important part of my lifestyle.
- I intend to make someone smile every day.
I found having examples helpful even if some don’t feel right for me. Chandresh says that it’s perfectly okay to develop your own intentions, though, and he gives some valuable tips to do so. Namely:
- Keep it positive and in the present tense. Instead of saying, “I intend to lose 25 pounds by summer,” go with “I intend to live a healthy lifestyle that incorporates exercise, healthy food, and lots of rest.”
- As you come into your intentions, refine them so that they are constantly evolving. For example, you could start out with a broad intention such as “I intend to live in joy,” but if you’re struggling with how to achieve that, you could change it to: “I intend to live in joy by performing random acts of kindness. Making other people happy makes me happy.”
- Setting short-term intentions works best. We’ve seen this with resolutions. Staring down 365 days of going to the gym/practicing Spanish/committing to a no-spend lifestyle can be daunting! So daunting that we don’t even get started. Baby steps are often the best kinds of steps.
For more tips about how to craft your intentions in a meaningful, positive way, check out Duanita’s great piece on “Writing Effective Affirmative Intentions."
One final thing: always come to your intentions through gratitude. As Jessica Hagy points out over at The/Thirty, without gratitude, your intentions will come from a place of scarcity. A piece at Mind Fuel Daily takes things one step further. Gratitude raises your vibration level, and it’s that energy that will reveal your manifested intentions.
Using a Blank Notebook to Set Intentions
You can absolutely set intentions through meditation alone. But, since I’m blogging for Sohospark -- and because I’m a writer at heart who loves a blank notebook -- of course I’m going to focus on how to use your writing journals here.
There are several benefits to getting your intentions down in a writing journal:
- It gives you the time and ability to evaluate your intentions. If they aren’t quite perfect to start, you can keep fiddling with the wording until they are.
- Writing things down is a way to hold yourself accountable for follow-through.
- As Julia Malacoff says over at Shape, "The act of getting our thoughts out on paper helps you be less judgmental and more compassionate to yourself.”
- It helps you see the changes that are happening and your personal progress.
There are a few different ways that you can use a blank notebook to determine and craft your intentions. First--and I highly recommend this one because it’s fun and insightful--create a vision board in your journal. Go into this project without any preconceived thoughts about your intentions. Just collect graphics that appeal to you and then let those words and pictures reveal your intentions. Doing this project in a blank notebook instead of on a “board” has several benefits. If you're looking for tips and inspo on how to create a vision board journal, I have a blog for that!
Second, you could use guided prompts to explore your intentions in a writing journal. There is a great blog over at Lunarly that lists a number of helpful prompts. And, I found the three prompts that Molly Merson suggests at her personal blog to be pretty powerful:
- List 10 events or situations that were significant to you in the past year.
- What do you want to manifest going forward?
- What’s holding you back from manifesting your intentions?
Whatever form your intentions journal takes, why not choose a notebook that speaks to you? The cover of SohoSpark's Sunrise writing journal perfectly captures the essence of new beginnings.
Now that you have your intentions crafted and perfected, are they set? Not really. Setting intentions requires a little more work than simply figuring out what they are. You need to give the universe a little push in order to move things along. In a great piece over at Psychology Today, Diana Raab lists a number of ways to infuse your intentions with the positive energy they need in order to manifest:
- Revisit and repeat your intentions throughout each day.
- Commit to your intention by taking steps towards it. If your intention is to practice kindness, start incorporating random acts of kindness into every day.
- Meditate, and remain centered and grounded when considering your intentions.
- Track progress on your intentions in your writing journal.
- Put your intention out to the universe, which is especially powerful when you share it with others.
- Always think forward with your intentions, not backwards. As the saying goes: “Don’t look back. You’re not going that way.”
There you have it. You’re all set to rock your universe with your intentions. If you journal about your intentions--or have now been inspired to do so--I'd love to hear from you. Drop me a comment below.
Photo by Hannah Pap Roc on Reshot