Setting an Intention: Just One Minute a Day to Guide Your Life


Mornings are crazy. After the alarm goes off every second is precious and every minute seems shorter than the next until you reach the finish line at work. As someone who makes my lunch and plans my outfit the night before, I fully understand the time crunch that happens before 8 am on a weekday.

However, I leave a minute, or sometimes just 30 seconds, to set a daily intention.

Now for those of you who just cringed, I used to be right there with you. I am terrible at meditating (read: I can’t do it) and I even struggle with relaxing enough to participate in a yoga class. The idea of setting a daily intention sounded cheesy and just … not practical. But after attending a leadership conference focused on identifying values and using those values to guide daily work, I started slowly coming around to the idea.

At the leadership conference I was surrounded by people who were almost all at least ten years older than I am. At first this was pretty intimidating, but I was soon pleasantly surprised to find that almost no one in the room had their life figured out either. They had more experience than I did and could share more stories, but they were still having the daily struggles of what job they wanted to have and how they wanted to be remembered.

This made me feel good for two reasons: the main one being that I definitely don’t always have my shit together since these 50-year-olds let me know they didn’t either, and the other being that we had each other as a resource to create tactics that help to not only get through life, but make the most of it. What came out on top? You guessed it – setting an intention.

First things first, an intention is actually a very practical feature of life, defined by Merriam-Webster as, “the thing that you plan to do or achieve; an aim or purpose.”

Intentions can be long-term goals, but a daily intention focuses on a brief period of time, making it more likely that you will achieve it and can be a step to obtaining a larger goal.

A daily intention can be found in a variety of ways, but what works best for me thinking of what I have to do during the day as soon as I wake up, and how I can make that connect back to my core values of strength, achievement and relationships.

Intentions don’t omit spontaneity, but instead guide it. It allows you to be empowered in your decisions because you know what matters most, so the choices all lead to you values. This helps with achieving larger goals, and feeling more guided on a daily basis.

An intention can be as simple as, “I want to feel courageous today” or a little more detailed, “I want to kick ass in a workout.” Instead of having an ominous “I need to lose x amount of pounds by August 20” goal, an optimistic daily intention that relates more to having an awesome and productive day than a far-off dream can change your perspective on life.

A few quick tips for setting your intention:

  1. Set it at the beginning of each day – You never know what side of the bed you’re going to wake up on, so take one minute right when you wake up to make a mental note of your intention.
  2. Be positive – This is the kick-start to your day, so make it great!
  3. Evolve – We change all the time, so you goals should grow and develop too. Have them focus on your values, but adapt to what is going on in your life at that time.
  4. Keep it short term – You can still think of the big picture, but divide it up into smaller, but more powerful, sections.

Do you set a daily intention? How does it impact your life?

Let us know!

Mindfulness Think & Feel

About Catherine Toupin

Born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, Catherine is a proud graduate of two great Midwestern schools: the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Notre Dame. After receiving a degree in English and Communication, Catherine chose to take a risk and teach teenagers in Florabama for two years. Living in a location with warm weather year-round rekindled Catherine’s love of long outdoor runs (and of relaxing on a beach). Catherine has since taken a Meeting Planning job in Chicago, and though the views are slightly different, she still enjoys runs along the lake shore path and being outdoors as much as possible.