At the start of every new year, I’m always eager to make a change and determined to transform my life in a big way. Each year I set lofty goals (and usually don’t follow through) and that renewed “new year” energy starts to wane usually by mid-February.

Year after year I’ve made resolutions that just don’t stick so finally I decided to ditch my resolutions for good and spare me the disappointment.

Can you relate?

Instead, I traded in my resolutions for a word-of-the-year which became my guidepost guiding my decisions and aligning me closer to my goals and aspirations. Although I didn’t meet every target, I succeeded in other ways I could not have expected.

The biggest difference was instead of focusing on the actions I needed to take to reach my goal, I focused on the overarching theme which helped set the tone for my year. In essence, this is what an intention does. It provides an aim and a focus to help guide our actions and align our thoughts, feelings and behaviours with where we want to go.

Let’s break it down a little further.

Intention versus a goal: what’s the difference?

Here’s how I like to think about it.

“We embody our intentions; we execute our goals.”

Let me give you an example.

One of my intentions this year is to experience more flow & abundance and to feel spiritually connected. My goal, however, is to develop a 30-minute weekly journaling practice that’ll expand my spiritual growth & personal development. Can you see how my goal would be easy to measure and accomplish?

An intention is more like the seed; a thought that sparks a response to take action. It guides our decisions and keeps us focused whereas our goals are specific and actionable.

They go hand in hand.

You need intention (the conscious thought) and a goal (the active approach) to help us make our visions our reality.

Alright, now that you know the difference between the two, let’s look at ways you can set powerful intentions and activate them to help turn your vision into a reality.

01. Get centred

First, start with a meditation or a breathing exercise to help you get centred. A fully aware and conscious state will make your intention more powerful.

With all of the distractions in today’s world, it can be hard to know what you truly want which is why it’s important to tune in and listen to your own inner thoughts and feelings.

02. Get crystal clear

Clarity of thought is essential to turning your visions into their tangible form. It’s important to get clear so that you can align yourself with what you want and focus your energy and attention on creating it.

Take a moment to visualize what you want. Try placing your hand on your heart and asking your inner guide: what do I need to focus on right now? Trust that the answer you receive is your inner wisdom guiding your journey.

03. Set intentions from a positive space

It’s essential that we set an intention from a space of peace and positivity, not from lack, fear or desperation.

If you’re not sure how to do this or you’re not feeling overly positive or peaceful right now, a great place to start is gratitude. Acknowledge the many blessings that exist in your life already and focus on the abundance you do have (no matter how small or insignificant it may seem).

Harness the energy of your highest energetic vibration.

04. Keep it simple

The shorter and simpler it is, the easier it is to remember and focus your attention on. Another way to do this is to focus on the key elements. In my example above, the words, “flow, abundance and spiritual connection” really stand out.

These words help set the tone for my year and give me something to align my thoughts, feelings and actions with. It’s much easier to embody the energy of a few words than trying to remember a convoluted sentence.

05. Make it your morning ritual

Setting your intentions in the morning is a great way to align yourself and help you focus on what you want to create throughout the day.

Sit back and take a moment to visualize your ideal day, week or your entire life vision then think about the actions you can take to make that happen. Remember that intention is not about doing things out of habit, it’s about making conscious choices for ourselves so that we can take an active approach to create a happy, fulfilling life.

In addition to setting an intention and visualizing it, try repeating a mantra, affirmation or journaling to help cultivate mindfulness and keep your attention focused on what you want to create instead of the opposite.

06. Align your thoughts, feelings and behaviours

In order to activate your intentions, you must align your thoughts, feelings and actions with what you want to create and attract into your life.

Once you’re clear about what you want, then ask yourself: how can I align myself with my vision and bring it to life? What would embodying my intention look and feel like?

If your intention is to feel calm & peaceful, how do those words influence your thoughts, feelings and behaviour and help you experience calm & peace throughout your day?

07. Don’t force it

Release your intention to the universe without expecting a specific outcome. Trust that you’ll be given exactly what you need. Remain open to how your intention will appear in your life because remember—your higher-self always seems to know what’s best, even if it’s not clear to you right now.

Remain open to the experience (always in the present) and allow it to show up in my life in various ways. There are no forced outcomes or rigid expectations with intention, unlike goals where our focus is on the destination (a predetermined destiny that happens sometime in the future driven by an emotional desire to change).

I don’t have a rigid or elaborate process for setting my intentions—my process is simple: I simply tune into my inner wisdom and ask: what do I need to focus on right now that will bring me closer to the vision I have for my life?

It usually comes in the form of an immediate thought or feeling. I don’t question it, I trust that’s what I need right now. As the year progresses, I may move on to new intentions or change my original intent as I evolve throughout the year. I let me inner guidance guide me on this journey.

““Our intention provides our direction.””

Our intentions provide our direction. Get clear about what you want this year so that you’re always being guided towards it.

Everything begins in consciousness. By thinking it and feeling it, you are planting the seed of your desire but it takes persistent action to make it grow.

What’s your intention for the year? Are your thoughts & feelings reflecting your intentions?