Creating Purpose with Setting Intentions

by Courtney Smith, LPC

Floating by day by day without any direction? Living without purpose in what you do? When we don’t stop to smell the roses, we can miss moments to appreciate what’s going on around us. As cliché as it is, what the saying really is getting at is bringing more intention to your awareness. Focusing on setting intentions can help us create more purpose in changes we want to make, in our day-to-day interactions, or redirecting our attention to a helpful place.


Intention setting is a part of mindfulness. There’s that word again! When I first start working with clients, I’ll ask what they know about mindfulness. Most people are not exactly sure what mindfulness means. Mindfulness means being aware purposefully in the present moment without judgment. Check out our last blog for more information about being present. Setting intentions helps keep us on track with mindfulness and supports bringing awareness to our needs.


We can use intention setting with basically anything that you’re wanting to accomplish. It could be noticing opportunities of gratitude or counting the moments to cherish. Or paying attention in class, work, or conversations with friends. It may look like intending to set boundaries in your relationships, getting into college, getting more sleep, or exercising. The list can go on and on.


So how do we do this? Ask yourself or heck even write down these answers:

1.    What is my intention?

2.    What I am doing now that is not working?

3.    What will I accomplish?

4.    How will my life or overall well-being be better by setting this intention?

Come up with at least 2-3 answers to questions 2-4. The more, the merrier! Here’s a way that you can see how this works:


Intention: I intend to notice the more enjoyable aspects of life.

1.    What am I doing now that is not working?

a)    I continuously feel stressed and overwhelmed.

b)   I don’t notice when things are working or feeling happy.

c)    I don’t give myself the time to appreciate what I do have in my life.

d)   I’m often complaining to my friends and family?

2.    What will I accomplish?

a)    I will feel less stressed and overwhelmed.

b)   I will not overlook enjoyable moments.

c)    I will be more grateful.

d)   I will not place as much value into negative information.

e)    I will improve my relationships with other people.

3.    How will my life or overall well-being be better by setting this intention?

a)    Feeling happier with my life

b)   Enjoying my experiences with myself and other people

c)    Finding more balance with the difficult and pleasant moments

As you start practicing setting intentions, I encourage you to be patient, gentle, and understanding with yourself. Whenever you notice that you are doing the opposite of your intention, just notice it (“I noticed I was not focusing on my intention.”). Quiet that inner voice that tells you, “Oh boy, here you go again!” Be compassionate that you are doing something different.