All of our thoughts and behaviors are accompanied by an intention. Often, we don’t think about these intentions in much depth, and this can lead to frustrations. For example, poor relationships, unsatisfying careers, and confusion about our life's purpose.
On the other hand, if we are conscious of our intentions and take time to properly set them, we can increase our chances of achieving our greatest goals.
One of the best ways to do this is to write an intention statement, (or also known as a personal vision statement). An intention statement has some similarities to affirmations.
But what exactly is an intention statement, and how can you write a powerful one that helps you to change your life?
For example, written affirmations are often glossed over as though the process is intuitive. However, many people actually struggle with affirmations and intention statements.
This guide will walk you through what you need to know to write your very best intention statement, helping you to avoid the most common pitfalls along the way.
An intention statement is essentially a written expression of your intention. When you write something down, it forces you to reflect on how to express it. Similarly, it gives you the ability to explore what you really mean.
An intention statement can increase accountability, help you understand yourself on a deeper level, and (crucially) reinforce your belief in your own potential.
Good intention statements are typically brief, extremely clear, and inspiring. They often make reference to a new way of being rather than just a specific goal.
Once written down, they can be used as affirmations (i.e. spoken statements that you repeat to yourself or choose to display in prominent areas).
When writing intentions, try not to get too stressed out about the idea of “getting it right” (as this immediately imbues the activity with a kind of negativity).
Instead, view yourself as playing around with different forms of expression. Plus, give yourself permission to keep trying until an intention statement just feels right.
As you work on your intention statement, try to refer to the following seven tips that will help you get the most out of this type of self-development process. As we go through the tips, we'll also look at examples that you can then adjust to suit your own purposes.
Any effective affirmation focuses on what you want, not on the things you want to excise from your life. It's natural that you start thinking of things you don't want when you reflect on the type of life you want to create, but doing so creates an intention statement that includes negatives rather than positives.
For example, consider the common wish for financial freedom. You might be tempted to phrase that as “I will be rid of debt” or “I will no longer worry about money”.
However, better ways to phrase intentional statements like these include:
Similarly, think about intention statements that concern relationships. You'll want to steer clear of statements like “I avoid partners who are bad for me” or “I can move on from my heartbreak”. Instead, use statements like:
If you've already read about the Law of Attraction or done any manifestation work, you'll be familiar with the concept of “living as if”. The basic idea here is that if you speak and act as though you already have what you want, it's easier for you to actually attain that thing. Applying this to intention statements, you will benefit from using words like “am”, “can” and “feel”, avoiding words like “will”. Using the future tense makes your goal seem far away, rather than inevitable.
Examples of good intentions that take this tip into consideration include:
So, each time you try writing an intention, scan your sentence for words that suggest there's still a distance between you and the things you desire. When you find them, take them out and replace them with terms that indicate live engagement with your heart’s desires.
When writing an affirmation, you might end up thinking primarily with your head and forgetting the wisdom of your heart. Instead, you want to make sure that you write something that really captures the feeling of the things you want in your life.
Just like statements that use words like “am” and “can”, statements that focus on feelings will narrow the gap between you and what you want to achieve. In other words, they will keep you in the mindset required to determinedly create the life you want.
Although simple intention statements typically work very well, consider adding just a couple of adjectives that help you to evoke the relevant feelings.
So, a bold statement like “I am successful” can become:
Don't forget that you have the freedom to try multiple iterations until you hit on one that really captures your passion!
Another vital tip about word choice is to exclude “try”, “but”, “might” and “could” whenever you possibly can. These are all hedging words that don't really commit you to success and inject hesitancy and uncertainty into your intention statement.
For example, if you compare “I try to be positive, open and honest to” “I am positive, open and honest”, you can see the difference. You are focusing on merely striving or making some kind of effort, not on accomplishing the end goal.
“But” plays a slightly different role here, but perhaps an even more important one. Any time you add it into an intention statement, it more or less negates everything you've said leading up to that point.
Consider the affirmation “I spend an hour on exercise but first I get eight hours of sleep” only really commits you to the latter part (about getting enough sleep), not to the full statement of sleeping well and exercising daily.
When we talk about “beginning with gratitude” as you write your intention statements, all we mean is that you can create an even more powerful statement by briefly acknowledging something that inspires gratitude.
Try to keep it relevant to the intention statement, and both succinct and evocative at the same time.
There is strong evidence to support the idea that when you focus your attention on gratitude, the resulting positivity helps you to create the kind of life you want (and helps you to feel better in the process).
For example, to take an intention statement that is designed to address concerns about loneliness, you might have come up with the intention statement:
A statement that begins with gratitude could be something like:
At their core, the most powerful affirmations are always believable to the person who is saying them.
So, if there's something about your current intention that feels like a fantasy or like something unreal, look at how you can modify the wording to make the statement more credible in your eyes. Later, you can shift back to the stronger version you tried at the beginning.
An example way of modifying the statement to boost believability is to add “I am willing…”, “I am open to…”, or “My intention is…”.
For most people, affirmations and intention statements become more believable over time. If you have a history of putting yourself down or struggling with praise, you might just need to start out a bit more cautiously while you get used to the idea of your own amazing potential!
Finally, it's useful to not only think about how to design basic intention statements but also how you can turn your self-talk into productive, proactive intention statements. When we talk about “blurts” (a term originating in the work of Julie Cameron), we're talking about negative things said by your inner critic; things that try to stop you from pursuing change.
Often, these negative thoughts are outdated or entirely misleading, and when challenged they may disappear entirely.
The next time you have a thought like “I don't have the talent to succeed”, ask yourself how you can rewrite this thought as a positive, motivating intention. It could be “I have the talent to succeed” or “I achieve success through hard work”.
The former is simply the inverse of what your inner critic said. The latter is more like an argument against what that voice has said. However you approach this, the key is to take negative thinking as an invitation to positive thinking.