What I Learned From Setting Intentions Every Month

By: Carli Ashley

One of my resolutions for 2019 was to set intentions every month this year. I also made the resolution to, at the end of every month, reflect on how well I had stuck to those intentions, what worked and what didn’t, and use my reflection to help me lay out the next month’s intentions. I can proudly say that I have stuck to this intention every month so far, and what it has taught me is something I never expected would happen. Here are the things that I have learned from setting intentions every month since the start of 2019. 

Organize and focus your priorities

After planning out my month I look at the appointments, social commitments and other commitments I have to do that month. This is when one of two things usually happens; I either get extremely stressed out because I realize I have too much on my plate, or I get too comfortable in an easy month and accomplish nothing productive. The latter rarely happens with two jobs, trying to start a women’s collective, a side hustle, social life, and a fur baby, which makes it all that much more likely for me to take advantage of a light month and want to binge watch Netflix shows I’ve already seen (ahem, Suits and Friends) for days. 

Once I started setting intentions after looking at my obligations, it allowed me to refocus my energy and get my thoughts organized in a productive way. I have always loved being busy but I also don’t function well on little to no sleep or without a routine in place. So, knowing how I function, what I need to function at my best, and what my consistent top priorities are, I can write down my intentions for that month and reflect on them as needed which ensures I go into the month with a vision of what I want it to look like, how I want to feel and what I want to accomplish. Often, my intentions will be something along the lines of “take time for myself”, “take a relaxing bath instead of a shower”, “spend time outside”, “make time for my relationships”, etc. Other times, my intentions are specific and more focused towards a goal, such as, “spend money consciously”, “reward my body with the rest it needs”, “remember that fitness is a journey”, etc. 

photo: Rodion Kutsaev

photo: Rodion Kutsaev

Take pressure off yourself to be perfect

I have grown to like the word “intention” better than “goal”. I find when I make goals, I put pressure on myself to make sure I accomplish them and if I don’t, I usually end up being more critical on myself than I’d be towards anyone else. For example, the earlier example of my fitness intention of, “remember that fitness is a journey”, versus “get to the gym for 20 days this month” removes the option of failure. Life shifts and things happen, and the second option leaves no room for this, while the first option reminds me that even if I don’t accomplish the idea of what I wanted my fitness to look like that month, it’s not the end of the world because the process is a constant journey. I end up being a lot easier on myself if life doesn’t permit me to get to the gym one day and I’m more open to embracing an active lifestyle compared to feeling like a failure if I don’t lift weights and break into a sweat at least 4 times a week. I could say something similar for all my money, social and personal intentions.

No one can be on all the time and in today’s social media driven world it is often instilled in us that if we aren’t working two jobs, creating a side hustle, getting a six pack, giving love to a forestry of plants in our apartment, entertaining relationships, and making time for personal growth, then we are failing. Part of being a boss of your own life is recognizing when to say no and when to compromise, and understanding that perfection doesn’t exist. Making sure you have intentions at the start of every month will help you to organize your priorities by importance, that way you’re not stressing about reading three books when you really should be concentrating on something more important that month. 

Get rewarded by what you were able to accomplish

Reflecting on the month has become so much more rewarding since I started setting intentions. Instead of just planning and maybe throwing in some loosely thought about goals, now when I look back at the intentions I set at the end of the month I can feel proud of myself, even if I just tried to do one of the things on my list. It’s also easier to recognize what worked well, or what may not have served me at all that month. I have learned more about what I really need in my daily life and what things I’m really indifferent about. If I feel like one of my intentions didn’t get as much attention as I would have liked I will reflect on why I want to give it more attention next month and I’ll move it onto the next month’s intentions list. It’s nice to look back at my month and say that I tried my best to maintain these intentions over the past weeks and if I feel that I didn’t pay enough attention to something then I can just continue with keeping that intention in mind for the next few weeks.

Creating and reflecting on set intentions puts me in such a positive headspace at the start and end of every month because I know what I want to focus on that month.

My mental clarity and self-growth has also shifted tremendously since I have started documenting my intentions and reflections. I know that no matter what social media, other people around me, or the tiny voice in my head is telling me, I am doing the absolute most that I can do and reminding myself that any small success is still a success. I have started to be more kind to myself on a daily basis and recognize that I am not failing just because I may not accomplish everything on my to-do list.

You can track your intentions daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly by writing them down, creating a note on your cell phone, or whichever way works for you. Cater this tool to suit your needs and lifestyle so that it serves you in the absolute best way possible.

Carli is a young professional from Toronto, Ontario. She is passionate about feminism, the law and the arts. She is supportive of anything inspiring, motivational and inclusive. In her spare time she loves to read, write and explore the outdoors with her dog, Opal. Carli hopes that her contributions to Seek Minimal will inspire people to be more accepting of themselves and others.