Many people have up-and-down relationships with goal setting.
Though setting goals can be awesome, goals can also be rigid. They can indicate failure as much as they indicate success.
A few years back I went into a new year without any big resolutions or goals. Instead, I set some intentions. They were more fluid and flexible. I would up seeing more growth in my life that year than any year before.
Intentions are powerful. And one of the best ways to set them, keep up with them, and see growth through them is by keeping an intention journal
How Do You Set Intentions through Journaling?
To set good intentions, you need a clear vision. Start with some soul searching. Then, choose a high quality journal and write your intentions down. Revisit your intentions daily, track your progress, and reflect in your intention journal.
But before we dive into creating your journal, let’s start by covering some basics.
What is an Intention?
An intention is a resolution in yourself and a message to the world about:
- Who you want to be
- What you wish to contribute
- How you choose to touch the lives of others
Powerful intentions are as expansive as you want to make them. You have the freedom and the power to become whoever you want to be. You’ll be amazed at how many resolutions or goals you’ll successfully meet when you consciously base them on your intentions.
What is the Difference Between Goals and Intentions?
The difference between goals and intentions is that goals are focused on results, while intentions are more focused on the journey. Both are focused on self improvement, but intentions are not about checking a box. It’s less black and white.
If you’re a big fan of SMART goals, cover your hears. Intentions are a little less concrete. They’re not so specific. Intentions are more fluid.
But let’s be clear: they don’t have to be mutually exclusive from goals. Intentions and goals can work hand-in-hand.
Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you want to become more hospitable. A goal might be: “I’m going to host 10 parties at my house over the next six months.” Specific, actionable, and with a deadline. This is a great goal.
On the other hand, an intention might be: “I’m going to become more hospitable over the course of this year.”
I know you productivity experts are twitching as you read this. “It’s not specific enough!”
And that’s true. But the idea is that intentions are less black and white. Setting goals can be hairy, tricky, and often defeating. Intentions are meant to be encouraging and lasting.
The goal of an intention is long term change. To better understand this, let’s talk about manifestations.
Setting Intentions for Manifestation
Some would say that intentions are all about manifestation. Manifestation is to an intentions like a checkmark is to a goal.
Once you’ve clarified your intentions, the idea is that they will come to manifestation in the future. If you want to be more hospitable, at some point in the future you hope to be able to say, “I’m far more hospitable than I was two years ago. This intention has come to manifestation in my life.”
You may be thinking, “That sound a lot just like a vague, long-term goal.” And again – you wouldn’t be far off.
But that doesn’t mean intentions are meant to be forgotten about. They’re meant to be manifested. And keeping an intention journal is a great way to keep up with them and hold yourself accountable.
How To Set Intentions that Get Results
There are a few things to keep in mind when setting intentions to help you get the most out of the practice.
Be as specific – but not too specific. You want to be able to say with confidence that the intention has come to manifestation. This doesn’t mean you have to write a 10-page plan with detailed steps, but try to avoid being too vague. For instance, “I want to become a better person,” is a bit too vague.
Write them down. The very act of writing it down makes it more concrete and real – which is a huge part of setting intentions. You’re not just thinking about it – you’re taking action and putting it on paper
Be flexible. An intention is fluid, and can change over time. For example, you may set an intention to become more hospitable, but find that your desire for hospitality comes from a desire to help others, not just to throw parties. That’s okay! Intention is about long-term change, so be open to where it takes you.
Be patient. Your intentions are not going to come to manifestation overnight. They may not even happen by the end of the year. Don’t set a deadline like you might with a goal. Enjoy the journey and be patient.
Be positive. Set positive intentions by focusing on things you want, rather than things you don’t want. For example, a poor intention would be, “I want to quit living in fear.” A better intention would be, “I want to be more courageous.”
Remember: intentions are not goals. They’re not meant to be checked off a list. Instead, they should be a guiding light for your life, something that helps direct your attention toward what’s important in the long term.
Examples of Intentions
For some, intentions seem far too vague. If you need help setting an intention for yourself, but you don’t know where to start, see if any of the below resonate with you:
- I intend to become healthier
- I intend to become more kind
- I intend to put more focus on others rather than myself
- I intend to become more grateful
- I intend to love unconditionally
- I intend to lead by example
- I intend to forgive fully
How to Make Your Intention Journal
Now that you have a good understanding of intentions, let’s get started with our intention journal:
- Set your intentions
- Write them down
- Reflect on your intentions and your progress daily
First, set your intentions.
As you start your journal, your first few entries should be all about your intentions. But how do you decide what intentions to set? Here are questions to ask yourself to help you decide on your intentions:
- What’s been on your mind / heart recently?
- Is there any area of your life you’ve felt is lacking?
- Is there anything you’ve been thinking you want to improve upon?
- Has anyone given you specific feedback recently?
- Are there any recurring themes you’ve recognized?
- Is there something that keeps coming up in conversation or that you can’t get off your mind?
Second, write them down.
In one of your first pages of your journal, write down your intentions. Write them boldly, in big letters. Feel free to make them artistic. As we’ve mentioned already, the act of writing them down is huge. Bookmark or earmark these pages, as you should revisit them everyday.
This can be in any type of blank journal you choose. Here are some of our favorites:
- Lemome Corked Eco Friendly Journal (I’m using this one currently – it’s a great deal at $13)
- Jumping Fox Design Journal ($15)
- Poluma Journal ($8)
Third, journal on your intention daily.
Set a time for journaling each day where you’ll “check in” on your intention. This will help it remain top of mind for you and allow you to keep up with your progress toward your intention.
Ask yourself how things are going. Consider events or moments where you started to feel your intention coming to fruition.
During this journaling time, you can follow specific prompts (see some below), ask yourself the same question each day, or just let your stream of consciousness flow. There’s no right or wrong way.
The most important part is that you’re revisiting your intention, keeping it top of mind, tracking your progress, and writing about it on a regular basis.
If you’re not sure how to journal about your intention everyday, there are some prompts below.
18 Intention Journal Prompts
Some people really struggle to just start writing. A blank page can be intimidating – and that’s okay! With your intention in mind, here are some journal prompts to get you thinking. You can follow the same one each day or mix it up.
- How do I feel today?
- How have you seen growth toward your intention today? This week?
- How have you seen regression?
- Has anyone commented on you / your behavior / your attitude as it relates to your intention today?
- What are you grateful for?
- Do you need to set any specific goals related to your intention for this week or month?
- What have I thought most about today?
- Have my thoughts been aligned with my intention today?
- How do I need to think differently?
- What do I need to do differently?
- Who do I need to seek advice or counsel from?
- What do I need to hear today?
- What has inspired me today?
- What has frustrated me today?
- Do I need to adjust my intention?
- What am I learning about myself on this journey?
- What am I learning about others on this journey?
- How far am I from manifestation?
Making an intention journal is a big step toward seeing your intentions come to manifestation. Don’t forget: be patient, be consistent, and be fluid. Enjoy your journey, and may all of your intentions come to manifestation.