Setting Intentions

A new year, some intentions and voices, voices, voices!

I wrote out some intentions for the new year recently. This is something I normally mean to do but, somehow, never get around to doing it. So, this year on New Years day, which happened to be a new moon in good ole “get her done capricorn,” I was finally able to complete my task. In fact, I ended up with 19 intentions for 2014. My intentions ranged from things like, “go barefoot more often,” to “travel more and write a novel.”  My partner wrote out hers as well and we decided to mail our intentions to ourselves and then open them next December. Seems like fun, right. Or does it?

Do setting out intentions for the year to come cause you stress? Do you feel overwhelmed by the idea of putting down on paper what you ‘intend’ for your year to come? Do you have the intention to set out intentions but never seem to be able to do it? Ever wonder why?

I’ve been working this one out for years both personally and with clients and thought it might be helpful to hear a few thoughts I’ve collected on the subject. I’ve found that there are a couple of big obstacles to feeling successful with your intention setting.

Obstacle #1: THE SET-UP

It’s not always what you say your intention is but what you do with what you say that can mean the difference between feeling successful or feeling like a failure. Remember earlier I said that one of my intentions for 2014 was to write a novel? Well, I’ve had that same intention for a few years. And, guess what...still no novel.  So, a “set up” here would be to hold this intention over my own head all year, beating myself up periodically over the fact that I have not written the novel, or maybe not even been able to start writing it. It’s a big thing to write a book so my demons could potentially have a lot of ammunition for self-abuse here. It’s a trap to allow your good intentions for yourself and your life to become a whip for your demons. What to do?

Try to have a personal understanding with yourself for each of your intentions. So for me, my understanding about writing a novel is to simply “work towards” this novel. I’ll be happy if I simply feel I’m putting effort towards my novel. Perhaps I spend time at the beach thinking about it. Or maybe I begin a daily journal focusing my thoughts on the novel itself. Or, I could actually sit down and write some chapters. Whatever the case, I know if I am allowing time in my life for the novel to come into my present time reality, I’ll feel successful and that I’ve honored one of my intentions. If it helps, you might say “work towards writing a novel” as opposed to “writing a novel” when setting the actual intention for yourself. They are your intentions so you can be as specific as you like.

Another one of my intentions was to go barefoot more often. I probably won’t be able to go barefoot everyday, even living in Key West that one’s a stretch. But I can simply “remember” to go barefoot more often...kick my shoes off and feel a deep sense of accomplishment and connection with the earth. Intention setting shouldn’t be a set-up for failure but rather a way to feel connected to yourself. Hold your intentions lightly and be easy on yourself around what and how you accomplish them. 


It’s crucial to make sure that your intentions come from your heart, not your ego. You can always tell an ego based intention by the way it makes you feel. Do you feel restricted by it? Do you feel like in order to be successful with your intention you need to be able to check it off your preverbal “to do list”? Do you feel the thought of accomplishing or not accomplishing your intention weighing heavily on you day after day? If so, you may be meeting this particular intention with ego or, simply realizing that it was your ego that set the intention in the first place.  A heart-felt intention will cause you to feel happy, free and expansive. 

For example, one of my intentions was to take a new route to work more often this year. I live on a 1 by 4 mile island so getting to work doesn’t take too long. However, there are many ways to go from point A to point B here in Key West. And, honestly, I can get really set in my ways and just put my car or bike on auto-pilot while making my 5 minute jaunt to work. Now, my heart is happy to go to work, I love what I do, but my heart really wants me to be more in the moment, each moment. So, my intention of taking a different route to work allows me to be more present on my way to work. It allows my heart to open because I’m in the moment, on a new street, perhaps seeing a new garden or a new person to say “hi” to. If I’m enjoying my ever-changing surroundings, my heart is happy and expansive and I’m feeling happy and expansive because I’m more present in my own life. I’m also putting out good vibes which will allow others to expand with their own happiness. I can tell my heart made this intention by the way it makes me feelwhen I’m doing it and by the effect I have on others when I’m doing it. 

Intentions can be a time to abuse yourself or a time to love and nurture yourself. You get to pick. it’s all in the view and it’s a good opportunity to listen, really listen, to what part of you is speaking. What part of you is making and holding the intention? Is it ego or is it your heart? I feel that true success can come only from and with your heart. So, let your heart set out some intentions for your year to come. Allow these intentions to enhance your life and hold them lightly.  

And, as always, may all beings benefit!

Angie Arkin, January 2014