Intention Setting for the New Year
Let’s not rush our intention setting for the new year. Let’s start now, allowing ample time to ruminate over what we’ve learned in 2020, what brought us joy in the hardest days, what we’d do differently if we had the opportunity, and how we might show gratitude for the experiences that grew us to this point.
Intention Setting vs Goals vs Resolutions
There are as many different ways to approach change-making as there are hopes for what those changes will bring. As a first step, let’s look at the meanings of intentions vs goals vs resolutions.
- Intentions are defined as a thing intended or an aim, and at times even indicate the healing process of a wound. They refer to something we begin now, in the present moment. They have more to do with the way we approach and choose to experience life rather than a specific outcome desired in the future.
- Goals are the object of a person’s ambition, the desired result of one’s efforts, or the destination of a journey.
- Resolutions are firm decisions to do or not do something.
So let’s say you set a resolution or have firmly decided to be healthier in the New Year.
As a way to ensure you keep that resolution, you set goals. They may include going to the gym a certain number of times each week, changing the way you eat, drinking more water, reducing stress, and getting more sleep.
Your intentions are what already lay beneath your resolution and goals, creating the desire to get healthier. The intention setting highlights what’s prompting you to make changes and guide your attitude toward the experience. Maybe it’s that you want the energy and emotional control required to parent at a level that feels good to you, be more involved in your child’s life and confidently pursue new opportunities for the good of you and your entire family. Overall, you just want to feel better.
In setting your intention, you would state these things positively and in the present tense, similar to an affirmation. Examples of these foundational intentions might be to:
- Imbue confidence.
- Radiate health and joy.
- Live abundantly.
- Genuinely enjoy this phase of life with my children.
For the remainder of this post, we’ll focus on the intention setting portion. It’s the most mindful piece of growing and achieving new things. Taking time to uncover your intentions first empowers you to write resolutions and goals you are genuinely connected to and deeply driven to achieve. It makes your goals make sense!
Guide to Setting Intentions
It is important to remember as you go through the guidelines below, that intentions are not goals or resolutions. Goals and resolutions hinge on the outcome. Intentions place your heart and soul at the helm and determine just how you plan on experiencing the growth or how you want to feel along the way.
This guide to setting intentions asks you to consider 3 powerful ideas.
1. Set Intentions from a Place of Wholeness
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.”
~ 2 Corinthians 5:17
You are a new creation in Christ, and are continually being transformed into a person that reflects God more perfectly, one degree at a time.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
~ 2 Corinthians 3:18
Your intention can be one guiding word or a full sentence.
World wisdom teaches that intentions and affirmations should be said in a positive manner and in the present tense. Not “I will be peaceful”, but “I am peaceful.” Or even more boldly stated, “I am peace”, which is to say I radiate holy, divine, unshakable peace. Taking a minimalist approach, your intention may simply be, “Peace”.
So as you consider the driving force behind your goals and resolutions, follow the verses above and behold the glory of God! Sit quietly and consider what God is working within you and what has already been done to prepare you for this season.
Christian meditation provides just the right balance of focus on the Word and silent communion with God. Whether you’re just getting started or continuing a long-standing guided Christian meditation practice, I’d love you to join me each week!
SUBSCRIBE for weekly encouragement to seek God in every aspect of your holistic wellness and carry out your intentions in every season!
Detach from Outcome
As you connect with your intention, it is important to detach from outcome.
Your goals and resolutions cover the production side of making changes. The intention provides guidance for what will remain in you regardless of the outcome.
With the resolution example of getting healthy and all the supporting goals of how one would achieve this objective, the coordinating intention should be something positive that will remain even on the days you miss the mark. If you skip the gym, drink more coffee and wine than water resulting in less than phenomenal sleep, you’ll still be spiritually complete in Christ. And you’ll still hold the intention of living with abundant energy and being present in the moment. The goals will be something you can come back to tomorrow, but the intentions remain no matter what.
Holding your intention in place will help you get back on track with your goals and resolutions more efficiently. Instead of seeing them as a burden, you’ll begin seeing the tasks as keys of value and purpose. Rather than being the means to an end, they show up as cyclical support, birthed from and feeding into abundant life.
Trust God with the Details
If your intentions are lived daily, regardless of your progress, trusting God with the details grants you supreme security and stability as you sort out the heart and soul of intention setting. Being honest with God about what you really want and putting a focus on your driving intentions opens your eyes to the opportunities already in place.
As you see opportunities to actualize your intentions, you’ll begin seeing that the desires of your heart are already aligned with God’s purpose. It will also become evident that you’ve already been given everything you need to live out your intentions.
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. ~ Psalm 37:4
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. ~ 2 Corinthians 9:8
In this way, setting intentions from a place of wholeness, detaching from outcome, and trusting God with the details doesn’t feel foreign or hocus pocus. God is with you in spirit and in truth, which is why this practice resonates so deeply. Trust God and trust the process!
Intention Setting Meditation
This intention setting meditation gets you started by finding your security in God rather than your performance or circumstances. Find a quiet space where you’ll be uninterrupted, and let’s get ready to meditate!
I share Christian meditation and mindfulness tips, weekly encouragement, and other practical tools for seeking God first in every aspect of holistic wellness in my Christians Taking Inner Stillness Into the Busyness of the Everyday Facebook Group. It’s a vibrant and candid community and I’d love to have you there. Check it out!
Intention Setting Exercise
Pulling together everything we’ve learned on the importance of intention setting, it’s time to put it into action! Grab your journal and favorite pen. Find a quiet space and settle in for some beholding of God, heart surrender, and transformative growth.
- Consider your personal experiences this year. What challenges did you face?
- What brought you joy in the hardest days?
- What would you do differently if you had the opportunity?
- How might you show gratitude for the experiences that grew you to this point?
Sit quietly and hone in on your answer to #3. Within this desire for different, lies a lesson learned and the key to a guiding word or desire. Use this in your intention setting.
Remember when setting an intention to make it positive and present tense. Detach from any outcomes and trust God with the details. Use this intention setting guide to communicate honestly and clearly with yourself and with God. Pray over your intentions and invite God into each day.
Be flexible and know that your intentions will evolve over time. Don’t place any expectations on how long this intention will last. It could be altered a bit when you bump up against similar but new intentions as your shorter-termed goals are reached, carry you through the entire new year, or change completely as often as daily!
Pin this post and return whenever you begin to feel stagnant in your drive or desire, either towards your goals or in your desire to go deeper with God. This intention setting guide will be here to help you regain your footing!
He gives me the agility of a deer; he enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain.
~ Psalm 18:33 (NET)
Any hints at your guiding word for the new year or what intentions you will set? Share below and inspire others (including me!).
Thank you, Sweet Sister. I’m not really a goal setting girl, but found this helpful. Practical and not overwhelming. Even better, I found this a good blend of goal and God! So often He can get lost when we set personal goals! Thank you for your faithfulness and love 💞 Hey, this was also my first meditation. Grateful I made the time. Love you ❤️
These are wonderful tips. I need to be more intentional in setting my goals.
Thank you for this post. I’d never really thought of intentions as different to goals or resolutions before. Setting goals has never resonated with me. I’m more likely to build a routine or habit. Your post has helped to clarify these thoughts going into the end of an unusual year.
I have never liked setting goals so I liked your way of setting intentions. I liked your perspective on this. Thanks for sharing!
Love this so much! Thank you for sharing all of these! Full of loving reminders and wisdom.
Thanks for the idea to start planning now. Usually, I do it last minute and rush. I will spend the next month in prayer and preparing before I set my goals. I will do the same for a word and verse for 2021. Thanks
This would be such a good activity to do as a group. I might do this with my ministers wives at my church. I love the idea of it. Especially like how you define intentions and goals accordingly.
A really inspiring post! I am so productivity-focussed and hardly ever set an intention about how I choose to experience life. One of my pastors often reminded us that, more important than the goal is the HOW we get there. God is less concerned about WHAT the do for him, rather he cares about HOW we do it – in love, joy, perseverance, patience and so on. Thank you for sharing!
I learned so much from this post! Thank you for explaining the difference between resolutions, goals, and intentions. It makes so much sense to start with our intentions! I also will practice detaching from the outcome and giving the details to God. Such good stuff!
I love that idea of intention vs goals! What a great distinction!
It is so important to be intentional in our walk with God, to take time to pray and plan. We won’t accomplish our purpose by accident. Loved how you differentiated between goals, resolutions, and intentions. Blessings!
Thanks for this helpful post! I love how you broke down the 3 words, goal, resolution & intentions. My favorite part is releasing details to God & your meditation guide!
Intentions, decisions, and resolutions – really appreciated understanding the difference between the three. 🙂
Rachel I love this post so much and truly loved your guided meditation video. So much truth packed in this post. When I thought about question 3, I realized I need to revisit my intentions from a few years back when God gave me the word “Delight”. He gave me the word ‘Blessed’ this year and wanted me to not be so focused on the finish line but declare myself blessed before the process began. I felt like your post spoke to me on that level too and was much needed this morning. Thank you so much for all your writing, very inspiring to my heart and soul!
That is the best! I love that God is giving you a focus word for what’s already been done. It’s such a bonus knowing that blessing will continue as you lean in and are shown more depth on God’s nature & desire to bless those who believe! Makes me giddy for you & all you’ll learn! Can’t wait to read all about it. 😍
I also want to share with you that just last night my women’s small group met by Zoom to chat words of the year. It was fascinating to hear a recurring idea that going in, many of us chose a word or believe it was given to us as something to strive for. We partnered up with God, but took them on more like a goal. Throughout the year, it was realized how much God was revealing about that trait of his own character. And of course in seeing this IN God, we could see it in our identity THROUGH God. Huge “aha” for me! So intention setting and word selection gained a lot more depth through them & you! Be blessed, sweet friend!
I love how you approached this topic! Especially when you wrote about detaching from the outcome: “The intention provides guidance for what will remain in you regardless of the outcome.” And the journal prompts are perfect. Thank you!