The 3 Biggest Mistakes - Setting Intentions for 2021
There’s a lot happening around the world right now, but I already feel a fantastically high level of energy coming in. It’s just the perfect time to set intentions.
Today, we’re going to be talking about the three biggest mistakes people make when setting intentions for a new year. This type of article abounds on the internet during January and February when people are usually pumped about going back to work and taking better care of themselves.
I want to invest more in self-care this year.
I want to work full-time, while also having time for my wife and kids.
I want to do something challenging every day.
Do those sound familiar?
Trouble is, our intentions don’t always go as planned. I’d say they rarely go as planned, and you can probably confirm that.
Last year, December came and you were like “2021 is going to be my year. I mean it this time”. Maybe you haven’t, but some people have already rain-checked their intentions. Two weeks into the year and they’re already saying “well, 2022 is definitely going to be my year”. And it goes on and on…
But I understand these people. Here’s why.
Setting Intentions is Easy. Staying True to Them is Challenging.
For me, honestly, that happened all the time during my corporate days. I love talking about my corporate days because they were an equally challenging and blessed time in my life.
I had my intentions set, written down, and ready to go. But something unexpected always happened, something that challenged me and made me question whether I should stick with my intentions.
“Why did this happen?”, I’d ask myself. “My intentions are crystal clear, but I’m facing these same difficulties every year. There has to be a pattern in this.”
So here’s what I did: I started studying intention-setting patterns from myself and my clients.
And after piles of books, several live events, and online courses, I can finally name these mistakes one by one.
This article will be down-to-earth, unlike your typical motivational article. This won’t be a business coach Guru type of thing that will promise things that won’t happen.
Since I’m an energetic life coach, I’ll be talking about setting intentions from an energetic perspective, and how you can make your intentions effective by using your energy correctly.
How does that sound? Keep reading if you’d like to avoid the most common mistakes people make when setting their intentions--and get yours right on the first try.
Just one last thing, really quick.
Before we move on, there are two concepts you must learn to distinguish. Using these two interchangeably may be one of the reasons you can’t stick to your intentions in the first place.
Intentions and Goals are NOT the Same Thing!
Goals are plans you’ve set for the future. They can be long-term or short-term, and may or may not have a specific due date.
With goals, you’re expecting to reach something (a deadline, an objective) and you work towards it until you do. When thinking about goals, you should set your mind to the future, regardless if it's hours or years from where you’re at now.
Intentions, on the other hand, are daily practices.
Remember at the beginning of this article when I added three examples? One of them is I want to invest more in self-care this year.
That’s an intention because self-care is a daily practice. Notice how it isn’t the same as I want to invest in self-care so I can get rid of anxiety a year from now. It’s an intention because this person wants to feel better every single day, without looking to achieve anything specific. She just wants to feel great and love herself right now, and at every moment. See the difference?
Now, here are three intention-setting mistakes you should look out for:
Mistake #1: Not Knowing Your Heart’s Purpose (Kokoro-Zashi 志)
Let me explain. In Japanese, Kokoro (心) means heart, but not as in the organ. Instead, it refers to the heart as in our emotions and feelings. Kokoro-Zashi is a kanji I really love, which means personal mission--essentially, where our hearts are.
When we don’t put our hearts into something, it’s much easier to fall behind. That’s why knowing your Kokoro-Zashi is essential if you want to be ambitious and stay true to your promises. Having that Kokoro means that, whatever hurdle comes your way, you will fight through it no matter what. You’ll hold yourself accountable for it. It’s in your heart.
Back in my corporate days, I remember having to write a “review” of my previous year, as well as my goals for the year to come, and share it with my colleagues and boss. Looking back to the intentions I had not stuck with, I found out that they didn’t really matter much to me. I wasn’t holding myself accountable for them. There was no Kokoro there. So instead of facing the challenges, I’d just let my intentions crumble.
The solution: Take ownership of your intentions. Know that there will be drawbacks and that if you don’t make heart-driven decisions, you’re much more likely to give up on them.
Mistake #2: Setting Too Many Intentions at the Same Time
It’s natural to get over-excited when setting intentions. There’s so much we want to do!
But setting too many of them can overwhelm you and produce the opposite effect. I, for one, feel stuck when writing, say, a wishlist that’s brimming with intentions--some of which I know, deep down, I won’t have the time to invest in.
This, in turn, can result in frustration. What usually happens is: you fail to persevere with one or more intentions on your list, and your mind decides that “yep, maybe I’m a failure”. You’re not. You’ve just set too many intentions, some of them out of sync with your Kokoro-Zashi, and couldn’t follow through with them.
The solution: Write down your three biggest intentions for the year, intentions you will hold yourself accountable for. Focus on them. You’ll find that you’ll be much more productive that way.
Mistake #3: Not Internalizing Your Intentions
Are you using your entire body to internalize your intentions for the year? Or are you just stuck in wishful thinking?
I learned this one the hard way. Like so many people, I used to rely on techniques like journaling for setting intentions. I didn’t really do anything else, and guess what? My intentions weren’t as effective.
The key here is to not only use your brain when setting intentions but your entire body as well. Your body has 60 trillion (!!!) cells just waiting to be used to their greatest capacity. I teach about cellular power in-depth in my membership course--I even talked about it in a co-creating event held at the end of last year, which was very exciting.
You’ve got to understand that mind work alone isn’t enough. You’ve got to engage your body in the process because, think about it: whatever your intentions are, you need to feel energized and healthy enough so you can push through when it gets hard. And you won’t feel like pushing through if your body is exhausted. Your mind will instantly go “alright, time to drop the ball”.
That was a lot to take in. But don’t worry. Let’s go over the key takeaways to make your intention-setting a lot more solid this year.
- Pursue your Kokoro-Zashi. This way, it’ll be much easier for you to stay true to your intentions, no matter what challenges cross your path.
- Set three overarching intentions for the year. Avoid the frustration of setting too many intentions at once (and not sticking with any of them).
- Internalize your intentions, using both mind and whole-body work. If your body is out of energy, your mind will follow. Using the right techniques to stay healthy and energized will make sure your intentions are met.
In fact, if you’re serious about your intentions for 2021, check out my Energetic Vitality Assessment below, and find how you’re doing, energy-wise, in less than a minute.
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