So you've spent time in self-reflection or meditation, integrated the past year and are clear on what your commitments and visions are. Now what? Explore three simple steps for grounding your intentions and bringing them to life.
New Year Intentions
Even with all the added emphasis on setting intentions and making resolutions for the new year, we will undoubtedly break some of them, re-commit, re-assess and even set new intentions for visions that are currently unknown. There is nothing wrong with changing course from time to time, however, unless you want to perpetually flap in the wind it’s important to have a clear direction and that begins with clear intentions.
If you already feel unwaveringly clear on your intentions feel free to skip this next part and go directly to the list of tools for bringing your intention to life. If you are still in a process of inquiry or are open to deepening your process, read on.
Not All Intentions are Created Equal
We have all been there before. Sitting down with a journal and pen or over a keyboard, envisioning what we want to create within the next year...or the rest of our lives. After a few moments, the list is feeling pretty long and perhaps even burdensome. Especially when the list contains things we aren’t really committed to accomplishing. Do I really want to put in the work to become a fire spinner this year? Perhaps I should pursue an MA in Psychology instead?
In order to set powerful intentions, first, you must narrow it down to the things your heart is really calling for. Then add a few healthy doses of practicality, time management, and reasonable expectations. However, in order to discover the things your heart is really calling you to do, there has to be a process of discerning the real gems from the rest of it. Separate the wheat from the chaff, to use an old-world analogy.
Self-Inquiry is Key
Getting clear about our true intentions can start by asking ourselves a few fundamental questions and being willing to listen for the answers. Feel free to bring any of these prompts for self-inquiry into your meditation practice. If you don’t have a meditation practice, now is the best time to start one. The key is being patient enough to listen for the answers, as opposed to letting your mind mechanically respond. Silence is golden: from silence something profound and unexpected always emerges. Here are a few questions to ask during your process of self-inquiry.
Where am I setting my intentions from?
What is the voice of wisdom trying to tell me?
Who am I really?
What am I committed to?
What are my gifts and talents?
How can I serve others?
Don’t shy away from spending adequate time in self-inquiry and reflection as you set new intentions. Although it may feel like you just want to get the ball rolling, the time you dedicate early in the process will likely pay off later. It may even help you avoid wasting time that you would have used pursuing something that wasn’t fully aligned in the long run.
Ground Your Intention Into Reality
Once you’ve heard your heart’s call, now it’s time to heed it. Here’s how to bring your intention to life—or “ground it into reality” as we say at Joan of Sparc:
Write Your Intentions Down
Journaling is the first step to crystalizing your vision.
Once you have your list of clear intentions and have already removed anything erroneous or out of alignment with your true calling, spend some time journaling. Envision yourself living out your intention and write down what you feel, what you see and who you are with. Don’t grasp onto the vision; just allow it to unfold in your imagination from a peaceful place. By writing something down you are taking it out of the conceptual realm and into the material realm. This is the first step to materializing your vision.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Re-Assess
Distinguish between your true intentions and your egoic aspirations. There is a difference and you know the truth by the way it feels.
Does your intention involve amassing money, getting someone specific to fall in love with you, or becoming famous? If so, you may consider reflecting on what you think you will get in those scenarios (for example a sense of fulfillment and security, love, accomplishment, etc.).
You may want to reassess and allow your vision to unfold from within as opposed to trying to create what you think you want. The tricky thing is that sometimes even the most well-intended aspirations might be hiding a secret thread of egoic self-interest. We’re not saying that is “bad” per se, only that you may not want to deal with the consequences of those kinds of intentions.
3. Speak Your Intentions Out Loud
Connect with a close friend or family member (preferably a good listener) and share your intentions.
Hearing yourself speak an intention out loud can help you further distinguish whether they are your truest intentions or whether you aren’t really that committed to them. If you discover that speaking about your intention feels inauthentic, its an opportunity to bring it back into a process of self-inquiry until you feel more clear.
Allowing for ample self-reflection in the process of intention setting and visioning is empowering. Ultimately, setting intentions can be a playful and enjoyable process. It can relieve the sense of powerlessness, or anxiety about the future while simultaneously creating a framework for upgrading your life.
Surrender: The Ultimate Teacher
Remaining flexible and unattached while pursuing your vision is a recipe for lasting fulfillment in the present moment and into the future. You know you have found the right intention when it makes you come alive in a new way.
Even if your intention is absolutely clear and aligned with your highest calling, you may still have to walk through the mire of uncertainty.
Bringing a vision to life is not for the faint of heart. You are bound to be shaken and stirred up, dropped upside down from time to time, and even experience confusion about whether it is really what you want to be doing. In staying committed to an authentic process of self-inquiry, a clear intention will help you persevere through any difficulty that arises.