There’s no such thing as a wrong time to begin 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!
3-step Guide to Setting Intentions
It is important to remember as you go through the guidelines below, 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 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!
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2. 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.
3. 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 send out Holistic Faith Meditations just like this each Monday to everyone on my Subscriber list. There’s also a Weekly Meditation Playlist to keep you grounded in Christ as you navigate your week. I’d love to include you in that list!
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?
- What characteristics of God were renewed or revealed in you, and how do they influence the way you experience life and approach the new year?
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!).