Life

Intention Setting Can Help You Understand Yourself On A Deeper Level

It's different from goal setting.
Writing down an intention forces you to reflect on who you really want to be, what your values are, and what you’re passionate about.
Writing down an intention forces you to reflect on who you really want to be, what your values are, and what you’re passionate about.

Welcome to HuffPost Canada’s (almost) daily guide to helping you pick up an easy, everyday ritual that can make your life a bit better, in a small but significant way.

Canadians are stressed out, anxious, and are feeling disconnected from each other. Every Monday through Friday, we’ll share a tiny tip to help you feel good. We’ve got your back.

Today’s habit: Write one intention a day.

For whenever you’re feeling: Like you want to inspire yourself, self-reflect, figure out your values, hold yourself accountable.

What it is: Intention setting is writing down your intention for that day, week, or month. The idea behind it is to focus on who you are in that moment and force you to reflect on what your values and passions are.

Intention setting is different than goal setting in that it isn’t focused on broader, long-term goals. Instead, the intentions usually involve smaller acts of self-kindness and personal development, and make reference to a new way of being. For example, a goal is “I want to drink eight glasses of water a day,” and an intention is “I nourish my body with ingredients that make me feel vibrant.”

Another example of a goal is, “I want to find a life partner,” and an intention would be, “I attract partners who treat me well.”

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How it can help: There aren’t really any rules around intention setting, but it helps if they are brief, clear, and inspiring, and you can do them as often as you like. The benefits of intention setting include:

1. They can increase your accountability

“Many people probably [set intentions] in their head all the time, but sitting down to write this out makes you more likely to follow through,” Andrea Gottlieb, a psychologist, told Shape.com. “Intention setting can help people be more present, more mindful, in their day-to-day lives. Waking up and thinking about your intention can be like a compass guiding your day, your week, your month.”

2. Help you understand yourself on a deeper level

Writing down an intention forces you to reflect on who you really want to be, what your values are, and what you’re passionate about. Maybe you’ll learn that you really value time with family and friends, or that you’re passionate about your creativity. Or maybe you want to feel more grateful about what you have in your life, or that you want to be open to new ideas and perspectives.

Thinking about these kinds of ideas will help you self-reflect and learn more about yourself.

3. Reinforce your belief in your own potential

In a way, intention setting is more useful than goal setting because if we don’t achieve our goals, for whatever reason, we often feel like failures. But intention setting actually builds us up, and makes us see that we have value and worth. You can’t fail at intention setting.

How to get started: Write down your intention(s); keep them small and achievable; keep the practice consistent (start with once a week or once a month, then gradually move to once a day); focus on your feelings; and start with gratitude.

Where you can do it: Anywhere you feel comfortable. Maybe it’s your bedroom, or a cafe, or the library.

How it makes us feel: Writing down our intentions make us feel grateful and more confident in ourselves and our abilities.

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And that’s your tip of the day.

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