“Each decision we make, each action we take, is born out of an intention.”

Sharon Salzberg

You are either conscious of your intention or you are not.  

Each of these options can lead to very different outcomes when performing the same action and that’s why setting an intention for the year is critical.


This time of the year always prompts us to re-evaluate ourselves and our goals and what we want to achieve for the coming year. There’s often an energy shift that comes from the start of the year which signifies new beginnings and is typically when our motivation is at its highest.

The challenge though is to maintain the motivation to stick with the goals through to the end of the year, with only 9% people reportedly successful in doing this. But there is an answer to achieving your goals. The key is to set an intention.


What is an intention?

An intention is an inspirational and aspirational quality that focuses your awareness on how you want to achieve your goals.  An intention is unlimited (I can always be more compassionate) and helps you to stay grounded in your values, as you set about achieving your goal.  This is particularly important in stressful times, when your focus and behaviour may be challenged.  

An intention ignites hope which supports your resilience and wellbeing.  There is a host of experiments by scientists which show this to be true and is well documented by the Intention Experiment.

Let’s say you are a leader and know that the first quarter of this year will be challenging due to a restructure.  This will be an anxious and uncertain time for your team and you.  You can set a goal to implement the restructure as part of your KPIs.  You can also to choose to add the intention of doing so with compassion for yourself, your team and your customers.  

Can you see how the 2 options can drive very different personal and professional results?

Setting an intention will support your well being and motivation through times of difficulty for all concerned, making you more able to deal with the challenges, as they present.  It will also help you to grow your leadership skills, sometimes referred to as soft skills.

The goal is what you want to achieve. An intention is how you will achieve your goal.  


Why should I set an intention?

We are constantly challenged with stress.  To do lists pile up in every aspect of our lives making focus and motivation difficult, particularly when situations often change unexpectedly or there’s increased uncertainty.  It can feel like a never-ending treadmill where you are running hard but making incremental progress.

Connecting with your intention helps you to stay grounded in your motivation and values.  It helps you to be present with what is happening in this moment and cut through the clutter of rapid-fire thoughts to focus on the key activities that will move you towards your goal.


How and when to set an intention

Set an intention when you make your goals.  This can apply to all areas of your life, not just at work.  Keep intention front of mind and embed it into your mindfulness and meditation practice.

The start of the year is a traditional time to set goals so now is also a great time to set your intention.

However, to really embed the practice in your life, make a daily morning practice of living from your intention and last thing at night review your day and mentally list all the times that you acted from your intention.  This is a time to reconnect with and evaluate the extent of your alignment with your intention.  It’s not a time for mental self-flagellation or chastisement.  Tomorrow is another day and you will get another chance to live and work with intention.


So, what is your intention for this year?  How will you embed it into your life?