Forget resolutions and manifesting, intentions are the best way to instigate change, according to change coach Niamh Ennis
I feel the need to express my growing dislike for New Year’s resolutions.
I don’t believe I’m entirely alone in this and that this isn’t a reaction to the events of the past year, I’ve actually disliked them for quite a while, probably as long as I can recall never achieving any of them and living in a constant state of frustration and disappointment.
When I decided never to set another New Year’s resolution but replace it with setting intentions everything changed.
So what are intentions?
Well, your intentions are simply what you want to do; they’re your reason for your purpose. An intention is, at its heart, a guiding value for how you want to be and feel. It reflects, more accurately, how you want to live your life and just how you want to show up in the world.
When you ask yourself what matters most to you, think about what comes up for you. The answer to this could, in truth, form the basis for your most powerful intention.
When you align your thoughts about what is important, with what you want to create in your life, your intention appears. Possessing greater clarity around this provides you with the chance to reveal your own personal path from which you can go on to navigate your life.
However, do not confuse them with goals. For intentions to come to pass they must come from your heart. Their measure can’t be something tangible. Instead, they should evoke feelings, for example, “let go of the constant self-judgment and criticism of myself and others,” “forgive myself for not getting everything done” “let go of the fear of…” “open my heart to loving more”. Setting an intention is a way to bring your heart and mind into closer alignment.
Setting an intention at the start of your new year, on even on your birthday, or at the start of a new calendar month can be such a powerful practice because it’s the first step to truly embodying that which you want.
I’m aware that these days everyone seems to be talking about manifestation. I’m not sure when it got so “trendy” but rather than believing that in order to get something you just have to want it, I’d prefer if you took a more measured and realistic approach which is why I’m such an advocate of intention-setting.
How can I set an intention?
Remembering that your best intentions should come from your heart, it follows that your intention should also be closely tied to your personal values, thoughts, beliefs and how you view the world and your place in it.
Your intentions could be a clear and specific wish, or as simple as a word or phrase that you’d like to align yourself with, like “freedom”, “vulnerability” or “love of others”. Similar to setting affirmations, we should always try and keep the intention positive, so instead of saying “stop judging others” choose the intentions “open my heart more to others”.
Intentions are much more powerful when they come from a place of love and abundance than if they arise from a place of scarcity. When considering what your personal intentions are, promise me also that you will think firstly of what it is that you want and not allow yourself to be influenced by other people’s stories or their criticisms.
Ask these questions to help stretch your mind when beginning to set your intentions:
- What matters most to me right now?
- How do I want to show up in the world?
- What would I like to build, create, or nurture more of in my life?
- Who would I like to forgive in my life?
- How do I feel when I am my most joyful and happiest self?
- What makes me feel proud?
- Where could I spread more love?
- What word(s) would I like to align myself with?
- What fears/ doubts / limiting beliefs would I now like to release?
- What am I genuinely grateful for?
- What impact would I like to create in the world?
- What am I ready to release and let go of?
- What do I need to practice more of?
- How can I shine more and express my true self?
The final element when setting an intention is the belief in the power of magic. Of course, we need to show up and do the work, to set the intention and then take the practical steps necessary, but we also have to lean into the magic of the universe when waiting for them to be brought to life.
So this year instead of setting yourself up for more disappointment why not try this practice of setting intentions? Start small, come with your curious mind and open heart and as the great William Butler Yeats so beautifully put it, remember that “the world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grown sharper”.
Happy intention setting and Happy New Year one and all.
Niamh Ennis is Ireland’s leading Change & Transformation Specialist. Photography by Unsplash. This article was originally published in December 2020.