Setting Daily Intentions – A Beginner’s Guide

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Setting daily intentions is something that I first heard about through yoga. Like many of us, I spent 30 minutes of my lockdown mornings with Adriane of Yoga with Adriane fame, stretching out, easing stress and anxiety, and getting some exercise. 

At the beginning of videos, Adriane often encourages you to set an intention for the practice. If I knew it was a harder session, especially one that was really going to work my abs, to be honest, my intention was often “to survive!” or “to finish the video”. Many of my yoga intentions also focused on stretching specific muscles that were stiff or strengthening my body. Sometimes they’d be to breathe more deeply or let go of worries. 

Setting daily intentions is a great habit, and it’s certainly not just for yoga. There are many benefits or setting an intention for your day, and it couldn’t be easier to do. 

Setting daily intentions. Typewrite with paper saying "be amazing".

What are Daily Intentions?

Most of us are good at goal setting for the day or a specific part of the day. We may even set intentions without knowing that we’re doing it. 

When I go for a run, I often have a goal or target. Sometimes it’s a distance or time which I can measure, but some days it’s to take it easy and enjoy the view, or to clear my mind. 

When I sit down at my computer, I like to set an intention of what I’m going to do, so I don’t waste time scrolling on social media instead of working. 

You might go into meetings planning to be forceful and confident and get your voice heard. 

You could think about how you want to approach a problem and the results that you want to get. 

These goals or plans are all like intentions. They help you to stay on track and give you purpose.

Setting daily intentions doesn’t mean that you can’t also have smaller goals that focus on a specific part of your day. In my option, there’s no such thing as too much preparation!

It just means that your day has focus. 

boy out of focus, mug in foreground clear, says "see the good".

So, Are Intentions the Same as Goals?

Intentions are like goals, but they don’t have to be measurable, which goals often are. Daily intentions are positive or powerful words, statements or phrases, which you can use to shift your mindset and get what you want from your days. 

I think of goals as being tangible. Goals are things we want to achieve. Intentions as more inward reminders. Intentions are who we want to be. 

They can be something you commit to in the morning, an assessment that you make before you get into bed, or a mantra that you use to power you through your day. 

lady outsides, hands in prayer positions, eyes closed, mountains in the background.

Are Intentions the Same as Affirmations

Again, the two are very similar. 

But while intentions, like goals, focus on the coming day (or other time frame) affirmations focus on the here and now. It’s the difference between “I will be kind” and “I am kind”. 

The Benefits of Setting Daily Intentions

The benefits of your intentions depend on what they are. 

Daily intentions can help you to get more done, be more productive, hit exercise goals, have more energy, be more confident or love yourself more, among other things. 

hands open opening flowers in heart positions.

But there are some more general benefits of daily intentions, whatever you set. These include:

  • Increased focus
  • More positive outlook
  • Gratitude
  • Intentions make you more mindful
  • Intentions can help you to overcome obstacles and problem solve
  • Setting intentions can make you more self-aware

The key to setting intentions isn’t setting them, it’s seeing them through. Having a positive mantra, such as “I intend to be positive today” means that you think about things differently, it changes your outlook and helps you to look at things more mindfully. 

If something bad happens, instead of getting you down, you repeat “I intend to be positive” before taking the time to look for the positives of your situation. Such a simple intention can put a different spin on your day, and your mood, which is why intentions are so great for our mental health.

woman at table writing in pad.

How to Set Daily Intentions

There’s no right or wrong way to set your daily intentions. Nor is there a limit to how many you should have, or how often you should change them. Your daily intentions are yours to set and use as you need. 

One way to set intentions is to sit quietly in the morning and think about the day ahead. Think about your to-do list, any challenges that you might have and what you hope to achieve. 

Think of an intention, starting with “I intend to..” or “I will” which will help you to meet your goals and have a better day. 

Some people use a daily intentions journal or app and spend a few minutes noting down their intention for the day. This can help if you want to look back at them later on, to assess how things have gone. 

"she believed she could so she did" written on pegboard.

Tips for Setting Intentions

  • Use positive language. “I intend to…” not “I don’t intend to..”. “I will” not “I will not”
  • Focus on the why. It’s easy to say “I intend to speak to myself kindly”, which sounds lovely. But why is that your intention? How will that help you today? Knowing why will help you to focus on your intention, and stick to it, even if something goes wrong. 
  • Make intention setting part of your routine – writing them down can help here
  • Make sure your intentions and goals are working together
  • Share your positive intentions with a friend, or on social media. It’s always nice to have someone to remind you if you need them, and sharing can make things seem more real. We’re always more likely to stick to something if we’ve told someone. 

Examples of Daily Intentions

Daily intentions are deeply personal and almost limitless, but is a Daily intentions list and some Examples of powerful intentions to help you to get started. 

I Will Speak to Myself with Kindness – We can be our own harshest critics. Be kind to yourself, and give yourself grace, whatever happens during the day. 

I Will Take Pleasure in Simple Things – This is a really good intention that helps us to find pleasure and joy in all of the small, simple and even mundane parts of our life. It encourages gratitude and appreciation, stops us from taking things for granted and boosts our mood. 

I Intend to Show a Stranger Kindness – Doing something nice for a friend is great, but showing a stranger kindness can be even more lovely. 

person making heart shape with hands in front of the sun.

I Will Practice Gratitude

I Will be Creative – This can mean anything from practising a creative hobby to thinking outside the box when you have a problem to solve. This intention encourages you to find ways to bring creativity to your everyday life. 

I Intend to be Positive All Day

I Will Practice Self Care

I Will Trust Myself and My Instincts

I Intend to Keep an Open Mind – If you know you have a challenging day coming up, this can help you to see things in a new light. 

I Intend to Try Something New or Learn Something New – Trying and learning new things sounds like one specific thing for your day, but you can bring this intention to many different elements. Read a new book, ask a friend how they do something, try a new food or podcast. Try to do something at work in a different way. 

I Will go with the Flow – Accepting that you can’t change or control everything can be very liberating. 

I Will be Compassionate

notepad, laptop and ear pods on marble counter.

I Intend to be True to Myself

I Will be Patient in Every Situation – Reminding yourself to be patient can relieve stress and help you to stop solutions. 

I Will Welcome Opportunities

I Intend to be Optimistic

I Will Let Go of Things I Can’t Control

I Will Make Someone Smile

I Will Spend My Time Wisely – and appreciate that wisely sometimes means resting!

2 pencils with words "shine bright" "dream love with"and "born to sparkle" printed.

Setting intentions can be extremely beneficial, there’s no right or wrong way to do it, and it can totally change your outlook without your having to do anything different. Why not give it a go?

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