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 I’ve decided to ditch my resolutions for good and spare the disappointment.

Instead, I traded 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 was 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—it’s an embodiment and through our thoughts and feelings, we’re prompted to take action or we can simply be. Whereas, goals are specific, actionable and have an outcome.

For me, I feel 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.

Now, let’s explore my process for how I set powerful intentions.

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 for turning your visions into their tangible form. It’s important to get clear so that you can align yourself with what you want to create and the energy you want to draw into your life.

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 perfect for where you are right now.

03. Set intentions from a positive space

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

If you’re not sure how to do this, or you’re not feeling positive or peaceful right now, start by acknowledging the blessings that exist in your life right now and focus on the abundance you already have (no matter how small or insignificant it may seem). This is what you can, harnessing the energy of your highest self.

04. Keep it simple

The simpler they are, the easier it is to focus your attention on embodying the energy. Another way to do this is to focus on a word or phrase. For example, bringing my attention to the words: “flow”, “abundance” or “source connection” can help me channel the energy or the person I need to be to draw that energy in and bring in new thoughts and ideas to help me create this. 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 your thoughts and feelings with what you want to create in your day.

Upon waking, visualize your ideal day then think about the actions or energy you can channel to make that your reality. Intentions aren’t about automatic motions, they’re about making conscious choices that align with what you want to create and who you want to be.

You can also 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, 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 and 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.—sometimes it’s a daily or an hourly process. I let me inner guidance guide the way.

““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?